So, let's say your co-worker writes something on her blog along the lines of: "Today was a bad day. My husband beat me again, and my tests came back positive." You see her at work the next day. You say, "Gee, Mary, I was sorry to hear about the bad news. Is there anything I can do to help?" and Mary says, "Fuck off! Mind your own business."
An hypothetical, to be sure, but similar things have happened to me. How are you supposed to react when people post things on their blog that are intimate, unflattering, or seem like cries for help?
This is clearly an instance of lack of any meaningful distinction between public and private. But what is it? The Blogic Sphere? A space in which, in effect, people can gossip about themselves, in which private (intimate) self becomes public (textual) persona - though not necessarily the same persona as in the blogger's other texts. A space in which one is invited to sympathy with a virtual subject who may or may not exist "in the flesh." In which desire for publicity (or attention), or even a distancing irony, may coexist with painful but apparently sincere (or at least sententious) self-representation?
"'. . . He who can write now, let him write now! And he who can write later, let him write later! And if you'll permit me to say what I think - without accusing anybody - I say the wounded, the thirsty, and those in search of water, bread, or shelter are not asking for poetry. And the fighters pay no heed to your lyrics. Sing if you wish, or hold your tongue if you want: we're marginal in war. But it is within our power to offer the people other services: a twenty-liter can of water is worth the Valley of Genius itself. . . .'
". . . The political conception of poetry has become confused with the notion of event, regardless of historical context."
- Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness, trans. Ibrahim Muhawi
Nonetheless, since it's happening in the blogosphere, it got me to thinking about how we (I) spend our time. A lot of us read blogs b/c we're avoiding more unpleasant tasks. Sometimes blogging is that unpleasant "task." In other words, as with most labor-saving devices, blogs may be beefing up our to-do lists - making us busier, more frazzled, etc. Or they may (can) be a relief or time-out from those tasks. (You can see where I'm going with this, right? If so, please tell me, b/c I don't)
But seriously, folks - what if we all agreed to blog no more than 100 words per day - that's 3000 words per month, 36,000 words per year. That's a lot of words - to write or to read. On top of all the others we're writing and reading. Blog bites.
A reflection: going slowly shows you how fast you have to go to keep from falling farther and farther behind.
At the end of July, I posted an entry entitled “The Same – Only Different,” a response to Robert Archambeau’s comments on unacknowledged similarities between the poetics of supposedly competing “camps” in Poetryland. It drew a couple of comments, and since I don’t have anything new to say, I thought I’d return to it. First of all, I referred to Allen Tate’s statement that “poetry finds its usefulness in its perfect inutility,” and blithely continued:
“All of which might be an interesting angle on Dale Smith’s SloPo. The purpose of slow poetry is to sever poetry from any vestigial links to the market economy – and to help its devotees to move in that direction. This is, however, not a desire to destroy poetry’s use value; quite the contrary, since the point is to produce an improved quality of life.”
To which, Dale Smith:
“I don't think there's anyway to isolate one's self from the global economy. That's not the point of slo poetry. . . . Slow Poetry like the other slow movements brings attention to the lines of transport and exchange, thereby giving people ways to reflect more accurately on how the exchange takes place.”
Point taken, Dale. I just wish it actually were going to make everything slow down. Can’t you do something about that?? I’m tired of reflecting. But I want somebody else to do it.
Reflecting is what I get paid to do, in part. That’s so “intellectuals” don’t do anything stupid, like political organizing.
The second comment came from Robert A. himself, who wanted clarification on this rather sententious utterance: “However, this is not the result of some Hegelian self-identity inherent in (or emerging from) the nature of things. It is the material genealogy of an idea – an idea that should be considered within the specifics of particular moments in the history of liberal-democratic/capitalist society.”
Here’s what I wrote him in an e-mail (for better or worse):
“About that last paragraph from the post: looking at it between quotation marks makes it seem like a really bad parody of early Marx. There was that bit at the beginning of your post re: your reading Hegel in grad school, over-against poststructuralism (or something like that), and since I was in part agreeing with what you had to say, I guess I felt the need to distinguish my position from an Hegelian one.
“I'm sure you know lots more about him than I do (it's been a long time since I've read Mr. H.), but I do recall a lot of talk re: reconciliation and unification of contradictions in the Absolute Idea - ‘the reunion of what has been parted’ - or differences' being like the flower, fruit, and leaves of the same tree (i.e., unimportant, when compared with the fundamental underlying sameness). Which means similarities represent the really real and the truly true. Or something like that.
“Anyway, I reckon I take a rather more pedestrian view of things than H. I'm looking for causal connections in discourse via specific people and words (and the interests they express). Hegel would probably say that this is the (apparent) victory of Understanding over Reason. I don't know. In any event, it seems to me that it's the result of specific people reading particular books in a given time and place (and, perhaps, identifying with the same social class or even clique). Whatever else a particular similarity may express - any wider-angle, metaphysical, or bird's-eye speculative view - I pass over in silence. That's all.”
All of which is rehashing an old hat, to be sure. But that’s what blogs are for, nays paw?
Speaking of which, I love the way that, when you mention someone in your blog, they get in touch. So if I were to mention the name “Monica Bellucci,” say . . .
For instance, you're mailing manuscripts or submissions in manila envelopes. You turn up those little metal tabs, lick the flap real good, then press down the flap to make sure it sticks. But your finger hits the little metal tabs, which turn out to be sharp as knives. Ouch. But then there's this red shit on your envelope. Uh oh. So you spend the next 30 minutes with a ice cube in a washcloth pressed tightly to your finger. In the meantime, somehow, you try to wipe away the blood, not expecting very good results (but you don't want the editor to think you're putting the juju on him/her), and amazingly, it wipes away, clean as a whistle! You manage to put a band aid on the finger (tightly) with one hand, and the bleeding stops. So now, no matter how many rejection letters you get (or no letters at all), you can still say, "Well at least I have my health!" And if that's not a happy ending I don't know what is.
Author of Things Come On: (an amneoir) (Wesleyan University Press’ poetry series, 2011), earth day suite (Beard of Bees Press, Dec. 2010), Of Some Sky (Bedouin, forthcoming), and Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan 2002).