Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reparative blogging

Collin's entry titled "On Blogging" reminds me that I've done precious little meta-blogging during this month of daily blogging. (There was the blogging/ferret entry, but that was just something I snatched from Michael Bérubé.)Given my proclivity for just such a thing, I'm surprised.

Collin points to Craig Saper's "Blogodemia" article, describing it as

a nice extended reflection of what academic blogging might have to contribute to the production of knowledge

and adding that what academic blogging might contribute is
a question that has too many answers right now to be quickly or comfortably resolved.

Academic blogging, in other words, is potential. Not fixed. An intensity.

Nay-sayers, like the infamous Tribble, would fix it. Actually, you don't even have to be a nay-sayer to fix it. You just have to tend toward paranoid reading practices, practices which, as Eve Sedgwick describes them, are "closely tied to a notion of the inevitable" (Touching Feeling 147) and which place "an extraordinary stress on the efficacy of knowledge per se--knowledge in the form of exposure" (138). The paranoid critic assumes that blogging leads inevitably to exposure--and that the critic's job is to expose this exposure. To wake up the fools who mistakenly think blogging is "innocent."

And while there are certainly blogs that participate in the logic of paranoia, blogging as a phenomenon is unknowable. My compulsive meta-blogging may itself be something of a hold-over from my own intense training in paranoid reading practices, my own need to fix meaning. But what makes blogging truly a pleasure--and here I mean blogging as a reading/writing practice--is the surprise. The not knowing. And the productivity--the connecting, the adding.

Sedgwick offers "reparative reading" as a non-paranoid critical practice:

The desire of a reparative impulse . . . is additive and accretive. . . . [I]t wants to assemble and confer plenitude on an object that will then have resources to offer to an inchoate self.
. . .
What we can best learn from such practices are, perhaps, the many ways selves and communities succeed in extracting sustenance from the objects of a culture. (149, 150)

Additive. Extracting sustenance. Sounds like blogging to me.

Or, at least, sounds like what I like about blogging.

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