Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Jeanne on the Well-Written Blog

By way of critiquing Camille Paglia's claim that the reading of too much journalistic language (including that found on blogs) is impoverishing the broader use of language among the intelligentsia, Jeanne writes ably about the more things on heaven and earth that Paglia's sweeping generalization appears to omit:

For me, writing a blog is an opportunity to let go of the kind of control I want when I write a story. I write relatively fast (probably slow for a blog writer, but fast in comparison to the way I write fiction), I let ideas hang rather than force them to conclusions they're not ready to find, I throw things together that I'm not sure belong together, and sometimes it works, and even though I don't know exactly what I just did, people understand what I'm getting at (maybe even better than I do myself), and sometimes I'm sure I leave you all scratching your heads wondering what in the world I was trying to say.

I'd call it a first draft, except that I never write the second draft, and sometimes that first draft has an impact that, for all its flaws, would be lost if I polished it.

This is all new. And nobody knows exactly what to do with it. Novels were supposed to destroy language, because no one would have the patience for epic poetry. Instead they opened all kinds of new possibilities for what you could do with language.

I'd be the last person to encourage anyone to read only blogs. But I wouldn't encourage anyone to read only poetry, or literary fiction, or academic writing, or anything else, either. Blog writers are still figuring out how to use the form -- some masterfully, and some thudding away.

It isn't poetry? Neither is a novel. Neither is an essay.

Judge it for what it is, not what it never attempted to be.

As a long-time writer and poet, and a short-term blogger, as well as someone who in his profession is called upon to write with great precision and an unwavering eye to the long-term effects of sentence structure and word choice (albeit as someone who just used the word "fuckwad" in a post), I find Jeanne's thoughts dead on, reflecting far more insight than Paglia's bombastic over-reaching could muster.

Like a poet, I have been known to blog with a dictionary by my side, even when I'm just yelling at congresspeople.


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