A Blog about Blogs: The Serpent Eats its Tail (G#)

Last week, I attended a lecture given by a scholar from NYU in which he discussed the so-called Enlightenment Period.  His approach to the subject was quite unique: instead of depicting the Enlightenment as a period when many a brilliant human being happened to be alive, he shed light on some of the basic things, such as infrastructure, coffee houses and the mail, which allowed the Enlightenment to happen.  This draws striking parallels to the time in which we find ourselves.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in two hundred years, scholarship looks at the co-called oughts in the same light: shall we call it an echo-enlightenment?

Modern mass communication is breaking down barriers at a disarming, sometimes uncomfortable, rate.  We regularly chat with people across Town, Province, Country and World, in real time (chat-lines, or, more recently, Skype) free of charge.  Cultures, however resilient and isolationist, are blending… cross-cultural sharing is free and easy.  Surely greatness will descend upon us… or will it?

I have recently become Blog-Obsessed.  I know, I jumped on that train rather late, but I am on it now… sometimes, I even get to wear the Engineers cap!  I have even applied to the University of Victoria’s English Department for Graduate studies, in hopes of studying such literatures academically.  I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a couple of weeks now.  This is what I have come up with so far.

First and foremost, blogs enable folk-writer types, who are generally ignored by publishers and, especially, by the academy (speaking broadly here, I am sure this is changing), to circumvent traditional power structures and to, quite simply, write!  This is the best thing since the printing press, as far as I am concerned, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t meet the same fate.

The audience for these blogs is almost limitless.  Anyone with a PC and an Internet connection can read and subscribe to such blogs… the world is the bloggers audience.  Surprisingly, however, there is a very strong local component to blogging as well.  For example, the blog sites I regularly visit are definitively local.  Prominent among these is Carey Mercers http://cloudofevil.blogspot.com/2009/05/roughing-it-in-bush.html , which I hope to study, in depth, academically.  It is a definitively Canadian, and more specifically, a West Coast, literature: it deserves to take rest, at home in the echoing halls of the English department.

It remains to be seen as to whether or not the English Department will rise to the challenge of not simply casting off people interested in the study of literary blogs to the Communications Department.  Let us hope they do.

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4 Responses to A Blog about Blogs: The Serpent Eats its Tail (G#)

  1. situationniste says:

    I attended one of those lectures, but, much to my disappointment, missed the Enlightenment one. I’m a big fan of the way he historicizes intellectual ideas. In the lecture I attended, he spoke for a few minutes on the converging factors that make significant moments possible. Walter Benjamin called it a constellation.

    I think you’re absolutely right – we live in an exciting time. In the world of literary study, so many things are changing that we probably won’t even see the real impact until much further into the future.

    Good luck with your application – it would be a pleasure to have you join the English Grad department!

  2. Jeffrey Puukka says:

    One of my professors was–at 17–a radio host on some talk program that aired long before I was alive. I found this remarkable: Seventeen!? But, as he told this story, he also reflected very bluntly. “Yes, I was working as a radio host at 17, but I didn’t say anything. I just talked a lot.”

    The world of blogging reminds me of the general message he (I think) was trying to communicate. Can you start a blog? Yes. Can you post and publish pretty much whatever you want to your blog? Yes. What does that mean in the end? Well, whatever it means, it’s seemingly not for the blogger to know or understand in their own real-time circumstances. It’s difficult to fully understand whether you’re saying something, as he put it.

    We don’t know who is reading our blog entries, most of the time. We don’t know why they are reading, how they found our blog, or if it matters to them at all. Is there a phrase in some paragraph I’ve posted that has thrown someone into an angry fit? Is there a phrase that has cheered someone up? Is it possible someone has learned something because of some string of words I’ve written and forgotten about? Or, does no one read my blog? Has anything I’ve posted made any impact on anything at all?

    Blogs, and blogging; a strange branch of the writing tree. . . I certainly wish you all the best as you study it.

    And so it goes. Turn on the computer, type, post, and join the world going by…

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