I’m tired of blog spats

I’ve been following the whole fight between n+1 and The Elegant Variation and the post and comments at The Valve, and I’m not going to comment on it much — don’t worry! — but it does make me think about what it is I’m doing here. Imani has a post in which she talks about having gone through multiple identity crises as a result of following this controversy, and I know just what she means. There’s nothing like a heated argument about what blogs should do and if they are any good or not to make a blogger feel all self-conscious and uncertain.

I’m particularly torn because I’ve read a number of academically-minded bloggers who wish that book bloggers in general would be more academically-minded and write something more like literary criticism than book chat, and since I’ve been known to write academic things in my non-blogging life, this kind of comment seems directed right at me. But you know what? I don’t want to be an academic blogger, and I’m interested in writing literary criticism on this blog only when inspired to do so, and I’m not going to if I don’t feel like it. And you know what? I don’t think all book blogs have to do the same thing, or even that one particular book blog has to produce the same kind of writing day after day. And I don’t get why those who don’t like reading book chat (which I love) feel the need to criticize those who do or the blogs that produce it. There’s a mean-spiritedness in many of the comments I’ve read recently that doesn’t make any sense to me.

But I said I wouldn’t comment much on this, and I won’t (I’m getting bored of blogging about blogging and you may be too). I think I need to go read.


Filed under Blogging

21 responses to “I’m tired of blog spats

  1. The mean-spiritedness was very off-putting. I felt positively squeamish at some of the flaming and is what I found pretty embarrassing about the whole thing. Feeling a little devilish I thought of following Roth’s idea of creating new names for certain kind of blogs, specifically my own, just so I wouldn’t have to wince every time someone thundered on what lit-blogs ought and ought not to be.

    Reading is definitely a good antidote.


  2. I think of my blog as a journal. It would be absurd if it was stated by academics that everyone must write in a journal in a particular way.

    I work at a library and we assist the students in learning how to scan and selectively read in order to see if a resource is right for them. Perhaps the academic snobs should realize that different people need different things and gosh darn it we all have our brains and can choose our own bookish blog excursions.


  3. Ha! I’ve been following the “n+1 vs. litbloggers” farting contest and the only thing I’ve learned is that the bloggers taking part in this certainly have fragile egos. Don’t these guys know that farting in public is annoying and embarrassing? Just stop.


  4. You said it! Enough already…


  5. The whole thing is so off putting. Are the people involved feeling neglected because it’s always the political and tech blogs that make it into the general news? Are they trying to be noticed? I just don’t get it. What I do know is that Brandon’s comment gave me a good laugh! 🙂


  6. Cam

    I’m glad I missed this spat. Isn’t there a corallary to the tv rule of changing the channel if you don’t like it? Not all books are the same, not all newspapers are the same, not all blogs are the same. How bland and boring it would be if it were, not to mention a limitation to freedom and thought. Luckily, the predictable end of one trying to impose certain cultural standards upon others is not the continuation of the status quo, but rebellion.

    One has to wonder if there wasn’t a bit of self-promotion here: n+1 metaphorically ran into a theatre and yelled “FIRE!”. Was there not some intent to stir the pot, to pick a fight?

    I agree with you Dorothy; I’m tired of it. Next, please.


  7. Edd

    While reading through the comments and having taken a curiosity look at the mud-slinging and mournful-wailing contest of overly narcissistic egos I agree very much with Cam’s comment.


  8. I missed this particular fight and I am glad. That is getting rather boring. I just want to get on with reading books and sharing the love of books with my blog friends.


  9. I missed it, too. That sort of thing makes me very uncomfortable, and I usually end up disliking everyone involved, so I’m glad I did miss spat. One of the things I’ve found so great about blogging is the variety in book choice and method of review. I love books that don’t merit anything more comment than “great entertainment.”


  10. Darn! I wish I could edit that last comment!


  11. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own happy little reading world that I completely missed all this. I’m not even sure I want to go and see what all the ruckus is about. Life’s too short to worry about certain things–at least for me anyway. I think I will just stick to reading my books and maybe blogging about them and chatting with anyone who cares to stop by. It seems there is quite a variety out there, so if something doesn’t appeal, just move on to something that does.


  12. I guess I missed the whole thing, but I’m glad I read your post and everyone’s comments. I’ve been feeling inadequate in relation to all of your blogs that I enjoy reading. I’m not much of a reviewer, but I love reading and I enjoy the community of book bloggers. Since nobody is going to pay me to do it, I’m just going to continue for my own enjoyment.

    Please note that if anyone out there would like to pay me, I am open to that option. 🙂


  13. Have people forgotten what “blog” means? Last time I checked, it meant “weblog” not “academic journal.” If anyone wants to get really picky, a “litblog” ought just to be a list, with possibly brief annotations, of what someone’s reading (but thank God it isn’t). When I need to do research, I’ll go to journals and other online resources for that. When I want to be lured into reading something I might have missed, well, you know where to find me.


  14. Imani — yes, a new name for litblogs! But, I don’t see that happening, I’m afraid. Maybe calling my blog a reading blog would be better. It’s about my reading, plain and simple. Or there’s Amanda’s “journal” option — if you think of a blog as a journal, it’s clear it’s not literary criticism or whatever else. Brandon, you make me laugh! Thanks Maggie, yes, now on to other things …. Stefanie, it does seem like people are arguing over a small piece of turf — but that’ often the way it is, isn’t it?

    Cam, you may very well be right about the self-promotion thing — they certainly got some publicity out of this. Edd, “mournful-wailing contest of overly narcissistic egos” — that’s good! Iliana, I think you should do just that (and the rest of us too). Jenclair, yes the whole thing makes me uncomfortable too, although I also find it difficult to stay away, unfortunately. Danielle, you are so right — it’s best to stay wrapped up on one’s happy reading world. I like knowing what others are saying, but sometimes … I’d rather not. Brad, you bring up a good point, that nobody’s paying us to do this — it’s really all about the pleasure of it. Emily, people are so quick to try to pin down what blogs are and what they should do, which is really quite a shame, because the variety in them is wonderful.


  15. The things I miss, I swear. I’m not even going to look this argument up. I’ve been reading blogs for much longer than I’ve been writing my own, and it seems like arguments like this crop up twice a year or so. Quite frankly, I don’t feel like any blogger has any responsibility to anyone but himself. Part of the problem is that some people have achieved some fame from their blogs, and now there are a whole lotta people who want to achieve similar fame and therefor go off on what blogs are really about. I mean, blogs are nothing more than public journals, and how you go about establishing your public journal is entirely up to you. Just because I happen to read about reading and writing says entirely more about me than it does about bloggers…I mean, there are celebrity blogs and news blogs and medical blogs and fashion blogs and the list goes on and on…I consider myself fortunate to have ended up with the small community I have, but at the end of the day if my blogging didn’t help generate and form my ideas I would stop. It is pleasurable and it is fun and for so many of us tied up in academic and other writing it is sweet release. The fact that some bloggers overestimate their own importance and institute arguments over the “quality” of blogs doesn’t effect our experience.


  16. Oh the endless spatting. Why must we argue about what blogs are for? Is it so terribly scary to just allow them to develop organically? I think the best thing about the web is that it is a free place. Freedom to do what you choose, freedom to visit other people or not, as the case may be, and free as in without payment or remuneration. That’s a fascinatingly new form of economy, so let’s just see what it brings, right?


  17. Bookboxed

    I was totally unaware of this and I’m glad! It sounds like self-definition and that often involves the notion that everyone should like or value what the originator likes. When I was a kid I liked the pick’n’mix counter. I didn’t always choose the same things and if I chose something I didn’t like I chose differently in future. There was always someone ready to relieve me of the ones I didn’t like anyway. Surely there’s enough room out there in blogland – a pick’n’mixer’s heaven. Down with the puritans.


  18. I also missed the spat and am glad of it. I like the freedom to let my blog grow and develop as I choose, to write about JM Coetzee one day and my hangover the next. I like the freedom to choose whose blog I read and why. The lack of regulation and standards is what makes it fun, and also increases the joy when I do read something well-written and considered (which, in this community, is often).


  19. I love your blog as it is.

    But I also kind of like conflict, as long as I’m not involved. Maybe that’s wrong.


  20. Amos, the truth of the matter is that I sometimes like conflict too, as long as I’m not involved, which is why I wrote the post at all. I should have just ignored the whole thing, but there’s a part of me that just can’t stay away …


  21. Dorothy, a great blog, a great topic.
    Really, the blogosphere is a place that I love for its overall decorum.
    Generally, people are very polite, especially if they are fellow bloggers. These know that any abuse given can very quickly turn to abuse taken. But the ensuing WARS and such? It is just really… unfortunate.
    Might I just comment upon a phenomenon I myself have noticed, and noticed profoundly, on my blog over the past two years or so, of nearly DAILY blogging?
    I have found that it is the people one KNOWS [personally] that are the most abusive and abrasive.
    This is why I tell very few people ABOUT my blog, plus, I use an alias.
    It is amazing that in THIS realm, one’s dearest friends can seem to display their own most wartiest appendages!
    This is what I have found to be the case.
    Perhaps I need better real-time friends? Or to actually meet more blogfriends?
    It is a mystery to me.


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