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Screw you, moron.
Which is why I am so pleased to share this article with you reminiscing about the golden age of ideas when writing in a “web log” got abbreviated by mental hamsters to “blog” and what that cost:
And don’t concern yourself with whether or not you “write.” Don’t leave writing to writers. Don’t delegate your area of interest and knowledge to people with stronger rhetorical resources. You’ll find your voice as you make your way. There is, however, one thing to learn from writers that non-writers don’t always understand. Most writers don’t write to express what they think. They write to figure out what they think. Writing is a process of discovery. Blogging is an essential tool toward meditating over an extended period of time on a subject you consider to be important.
Of course, this is the utility of any writing medium — whether it’s the act of physically writing something down, transcription from scribble to type, or hammering things out on your green screen George R.R. Martin style.
We used to be really good about this until Twitter came about and we discovered that most people could only think in bumper sticker.
Then came “big data” and the commodification of just about everything — up to and including giving away all your personal data in exchange for a “free” service that monetizes every inch of your existence — including your daily musings on the affairs of the world.
Frankly, I prefer a time where folks sat in coffee houses either playing chess or working on our little novellas while reading Infinite Jest — as if we could all be the next David Foster Wallace.
Today? Who even recalls why folks loved the man, what he meant, or why folks found some notions of resistance against onanistic culture?
Instead of ideas, art and poetry it all turned into self-gratification, likes, retweets, and chasing that ‘gram… or perhaps the democratization of information simply exposed us as the banal human beings we always were.
Either way, I think I preferred the blue pill.
Nevertheless, I do get the sense that I have lost my touch. I was a better writer 10 years ago in some respects — more confident, self-assured, ready to set the world to rights with thunderbolt in one hand and snake in the other. One supposes my twenty-something self and my thirty-something self would have gotten along famously, whereas my forty-something self (I have just recently been introduced to these ranks) would politely smile and nod.
Wiedenbaum nails it here. Previously, writing was an end. Today writing is a pleasurable end that — quite frankly — I tend to reserve for myself. Do I mind opining on current events and the things that interest me? Most certainly. Does it make me any money? Never has… at least, I don’t see myself becoming an editor at National Review or First Things anytime soon. Yet writing-as-meditation has nearly always been my style… to work out what I might think so that I can express what I actually think, or better still to express the parameters for what I might believe.
That’s valuable to myself even if it is not valuable to the world, right? Does it matter if it is a physical journal vs. a digital journal? Only in this one sense — my ideas and thoughts are exposed to criticism here in a way that Montaigne, Machiavelli or Erasmus might not have tolerated in their essays.
So welcome to the Republic of Letters 2.0. This is a good place to be, if anyone else is interested. Or not… it is all the same.