Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Battle of Carnival and Lent, or: Why Blogging Sucks!

In response to this:

Without taking away from the activities other left wing media and interest groups, I think the lefty blogosphere has managed to create something which previously did not exist, a sustained and consistent liberal perspective on and critique of American politics and media.
I worked up this really clever post, which for posterity's sake and my own sanity, I'm going to leave in a footnote* (veritable scholar that I am) and instead quote The Editors from their new book (which I will now have to download, as I'm too cheap to pay for the dead tree version. Hey, they made it big in blogging! Me, I'm still an envious "C"-lister. And if I'm not even on the "C" list, don't tell me; I don't wanna know.), because they are wiser and funnier than me, and besides, In satiro veritas (yes, I know it's basically pig Latin; it's a joke! It's the best in get around here, so shut up! Whaddya want from a "C"...okay, okay, "X" list blog?!):

Has this weblog changed the media in America? You bet it has. It used to be all about the news, and what the media thinks about the news, and what the media thinks about the media, and so on. Incestuous, cliquey, shallow, and fake. Now it's all about what I think about what you think about what the media thinks about the news. That's a major improvement. If we can just get rid of all that crap about the media, and the news, and you, it would be even better.
And, of course, it's all about the community!

Busey: What do you get out of reading weblogs?

The Editors: Reading them gives me a sense of community, and a sense of understanding that, yes, there are other people out there who are going through the same things that I'm going through, and thinking the same thoughts I'm thinking, and that everybody's kind of struggling with these things together. I think there's something about them--something timeless, yet timely, if you see what I mean--that separates them from other reading material out there. They center me, and they make me whole.

No, I'm sorry, that's what I got out of reading Sweet Vally High novels. I don't really read weblogs. Why would I care what a bunch of internet losers think?
It wouldn't be funny if it weren't true! Commence le guerre!


The evidence for this assertion [in the quote] is about as strong as the evidence that John McCain is a "maverick." Saying it, in other words, doesn't make it so.

Considering that long before blogs there were magazines such as Ramparts, which championed the environmental movement which even Richard Nixon had to accept (the EPA dates to Nixon's Administration); that Pacifica has been around since after World War II; that most of the changes in society prompted by the civil rights and anti-war movements of the '60s got by fine without blogs; that most of the changes in America today still seem goaded more by Bush and Cheney (the irony of "Be careful what you ask for, you might get it." Bush, it turns out, is a uniter.
He has united a country against him and what he stands for.), it's a bit presumptuous to think, on no more evidence than self-interest and self-awareness, that one is an essential pivot point of history, or a necessary cause of the "revolution."

Much of the radical change of the '60's can be directly related to the "button-down conservatism" of the '50's; and much of the '80's and '90's can be fairly attributed to a reaction to the '70's, where the excesses of the '60's overflowed. It's easier and probably more accurate to see American culture as reactive, but much harder to assign agency to any one institution as the necessary force on the lever of change. Did blogs instigate? Or did they merely facilitate?

Might as well ask if the printing press was the reason for the American Revolution. Personal essays spread the ideas of the Enlightenment (especially the importance of the individual, and individual experience) in the 18th century, but were they the cause of its acceptance, or merely the instrument of transmission? Instruments are important, but to confuse them with sources is to confuse cause and effect.

As Chou En-Lai reportedly said when asked his opinion of the French Revolution: "It's too early to tell." Who are we, then, to rush to a declaration that "Blogs did this!" Rallied the troops, yes. But caused the rally? I think not. And the only place the troops rallied? Hardly.
See? Risible stuff, huh? Truly worthy of inclusion in the canon of Great Thoughts of Western White Men. But lacking the ol' snap, the pizzazz, the je ne sais quoi, as we say 'round here, that raises it to the level of satire. Of course, that could be because it isn't satire, but merely dull, pedantic, and uninspiring whinging. Still, a high colonic for the mind; a rousing, sprawling, lusty chronicle of our times, sort of. Of just the caliber you've come to expect from a blog of this quality, huh? 'Course, it won't merit mention by the sainted Digby, like some people who will go unmentioned. But that's only because this blog does not lower itself to cater to popular tastes and passing whinging fads! We chart a new course, and dare others to follow! Straight on 'til morning! Or until we go over the edge, whichever comes first!

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