Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A self-absorbed blog post

Over at Reflections of a Secular Franciscan, Don is responding to allegations that bloggers are self-absorbed folks who delude themselves into thinking others want to hear what they have to say. Whenever I hear that argument from a professional writer, I wonder whether the author has really thought about their profession. Was Ms. Bronte "self-absorbed" when she wrote stories for her siblings? Mr. Tolkein when he wrote about "hobbits" for his children? Mr. Pohl and Mr. Asimov when they wrote for magazines with circulations of maybe a dozen people? (Most science fiction authors from the "golden age" started out their careers writing for low-circulation magazines produced by and for fans.) Sister Hildegarde von Bingen when she wrote about the mystical experiences she had?

Perhaps. Perhaps I am deluding myself that anyone cares to read about being the somewhat contemplative and spiritual pacifist daughter of a soldier. And yet, mine is a perspective that I haven't seen in any of the major outlets. Noone is covering those of us who love someone "over there" but feel that this has been wrong from the start.

And somehow, I feel that if I were to publish my thoughts on contemplative spirituality in any of the "regular" venues for such thought, I would have difficulty in my lifetime reaching agnostics, athiests, Catholics, Jews, Pagans, Quakers, and Episcopalians to name the folks whom I know to read what I write. And I would not receive nearly the level of feedback I currently get.

I realize that most people who subscribe to the self-absorbed-guy-who-never-leaves-his-parents'-basement theory of bloggers are thinking either of the "And today I got up and had a peanut butter and honey sandwich on sourdough for breakfast and then I met Jimmy over at the mall and we..." style of personal blog (which is usually really for keeping in touch with friends) or else the "And George Bush/John Kerry/whoever is a stupidhead who should never have graduated kindergarten" style of thing. But blogging (am I the only person who loves to blog but thinks the word sounds like something's wrong with the plumbing?) is an incredibly varied form of publishing. It includes both of the above styles, religious bloggers who use the format to discuss theology/practice/contemplative lifestyles/whatever, political bloggers who actually think about their subject, crafters who exchange patterns and reviews of tools and materials, and many many more. There are bloggers who write about living with various disabilities, and bloggers who write poetry. There are bloggers who write exquisitely, and bloggers who can barely spell. It's a wide world out there.

What I find particularly fascinating is the columnist to whom this opinion is attributed. I was unable to find the column referenced, but according to Don, this was published by George F. Will, who regularly publishes highly partisan commentaries on current events, like the exchange between President Bush and Senator Elect Webb a little while ago. In particular, his commentary on that event was widely criticized by many bloggers who pointed out factual inaccuracies and a heavily spun take on the incident. At least two bloggers even compared it to an incident during the first Reagan campaign where Mr. Will commented on a debate that he had helped prepare Mr. Reagan for using unethically obtained materials. If he did publish such an opinion, I can see where he might be a trifle miffed with the blogosphere. Aside from the challenge blogging presents to more established media (still not much. Most people still get their major source of commentary elsewhere.), liberal bloggers have pretty thoroughly skewered Mr. Will in the last month.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have written a great piece. You have articulated this subject about as well as it could be done. George Will made the comment about bloggers on "This Week.." yesterday with George S. and others on the panel. Blogs and bloggers like you have enriched my life so much because of your fresh ideas and your connection to soldiers actually serving in theater. I have found many bloggers to be very articulate and thoughtful writers who have much more to offer than much of the mainstream op-ed writers. Thank you for your work. Peace.

12/18/2006 3:30 PM  

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