People might have used their blogs to post the best they could think and say. They could have posted 5,000-word critiques of their favorite books and records. Some polymath might even have shown, on-line, how an acute and well-stocked sensibility responds to the streaming world in real time. But those things didn’t happen, at least not often enough. In practice, blogs reveal how much we are unwitting stenographers of hip talk and marketing speak, and how secondhand and often ugly our unconscious impulses still are. The need for speed encourages, as a willed style, the intemperate, the unconsidered, the undigested. (Not for nothing is the word blog evocative of vomit.) “So hot right now,” the bloggers say. Or: “Jumped the shark.” The language is supposed to mimic the way people speak on the street or the college quad, the phatic emotive growl and purr of exhibitionistic consumer satisfaction – “The Divine Comedy is SOOO GOOOD!” – or displeasure – “I shit on Dante!” So man hands on information to man.
Why, when I read these kinds of articles about blogging, do I never recognize the blog world that’s being described? Does anybody out there who reads book blogs recognize what’s being described here? Why do I feel like the people who write these kinds of articles are looking at a different internet than the one I see?
Okay, sucky book blogs are out there, but — they’re not that hard to recognize and then avoid. And people do write great stuff, they do write long critiques, they do respond intelligently to the world. The main criticism here seems to be that book blogs don’t really talk about books and reading and ideas; they are all about publicity and popularity and making quick, undigested judgments on the latest new thing. I just don’t buy it.
I don’t subscribe to n+1 and I don’t know if the full article will ever appear online, but I am interested in trying to read it somehow. Or maybe I shouldn’t — I will just get more annoyed. (Do check out the Valve post; it’s kind of funny.)