Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I don't get as many comments as I used to. Sometimes I wonder if I have become boring or have perhaps occupied too much of niche with talk of the arts and history. Then, unexpectedly, I'll get a most welcome comment or two from a totally unknown reader and think, well OK, I have readers who really are out there.
I began a bit of a hunt this summer for bloggers who had dropped out of sight to see if they had come back to blogging as they had said they might in their farewell messages. These were people with whom I had great conversations that I came to value for their personal take on things, and from whom I learned a lot. And by a lot, I mean from the lives of men in their 80s with an enormous life perspective, and from men in their 20s who kept me connected to the pop culture and The New, which is very important to someone working in the arts with progressively younger and younger colleagues.
I found a former classical musician who left it all for the Law and settled in New York City (the connection between classical music/opera and Law is very strong, interestingly, in Germany where a large number of conductors and the great soprano Hildegard Behrens all had law degrees in addition to major music careers). I was particularly happy to rediscover a New Yorker I had followed from blog to blog years ago and from whom I had the recipe for what he called a "minimalist paella" that has become a staple of my dinner guest repertory. He's in Miami now, teaching (lucky students!) and wrote back saying he was happy to have been found.
There was a time before blogs or telegrams or phones or communications of any kind beyond the written word entrusted to a messenger (for the wealthy) or the postal service (for everyone). Writing letters was essential but also an art. People wrote extensively, kept the correspondence sent to them, and made copies of their own letters in reply. When they died, their correspondence was kept in the family, sometimes published if they'd been prominent in any way, or archived in a library to be accessible by researchers.
I began to think of blogs as the written letters of the modern world, self-archived at the blog site, including the responses of the blogger's correspondents. I know of several bloggers whose blogs have become the basis of books. As for research, when the history of the U.S. war in Iraq is written, I would be surprised if the blog of Salaam Pax weren't referenced, and the same is true for a number of international political and cultural blogs that have captured moments in history from personal involvement. These are prime source material, valuable documents.
Unfortunately, when a lot of the blogs that were important to me shut down, the only way to keep in touch with their writers was via Facebook where thoughts can't really be developed at length. Casual updating is easy, depth difficult or non-existent. Twitter is even more limited. I keep hearing that social media discourages, and may even eliminate, social contact. What I think it limits or even destroys is the expression and expansion of ideas.
What I love about blogging is that I use it as a diary for my children. That's why I started it in the first place. My kids will never read my Facebook updates or my Tweets so why should I continue with those.
I really do hate to see blogs vanish. I think if everyone considered them as journals and not try to get major attention, they would be much happier.
Your Friend, m.
I read your regularly; sometimes I don't leave comment as I can't think of anything really to say.
I too bemoan the passing of blogging - I suppose writing is just too much or too boring for some. Perhaps it is about time and effort.
I know how you feel, Will. You and Nicky are the only regular commenters on my blog which, sadly, has never been the "intelligent personal blog" I might have dreamy of when I started. There are times I wonder about continuing. But, I am nothing if not a creature of habit and I have been blogging for almost 9 years now - an astonishing realization, really. I feel badly that I do not comment as often as you do. Sometimes, as one of your other commenters wrote, I don't think of anything in particular to say. There's also the fact that I read most blogs via RSS feed which means an extra step for me to read your posts and I am nothing if not a proscrastinator - and a lazy one at that. Lastly, I don't use Facebook, never have, and probably never will. It seemed way to dangerous a medium for a closeted gay person trying to keep two sides of his life separate.