Let Us Now Praise Not At All Famous Bloggers

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-08-13 12:00:00 No comments

Some of the best stuff I've ever read has been posted on blogs with a sum total of maybe five readers, myself included, and now that they are (regrettably) no longer updated probably have a sum total of zero. My Ghetto (last post: March 2013) had writing about popular music as good as anything I've read since Lester Bangs left the premises. Jaime J. Weinman's Something Old, Nothing New (last post: August 2012) had more to say about the popular culture of yesteryear than any dozen other blogs have to say about anything going on right now. They are two great ways to spend an afternoon reading.

The best blogging always seems to come from people who have narrow but intense interests. Such folks care very deeply indeed about one thing, and are able to unpack it until it fills the whole of the house. They have Something To Say, and they often also say it with wit and grace. Twitter posts may have the wit, but rarely the grace, and almost never the depth; the medium breaks down when you have something to say that requires more than a quick shout-out. And while snappy comebacks are fun, they're limited.

Blogging isn't dead, not by a long shot. It's just that it's moved off into the margins, where I think it thrived best anyway. You can't really develop your own ideas about things if you spend your entire time posturing for an audience that slams you in one millisecond and praises you to the skies in the next. You need space of your own to entertain possibilities that aren't going to get shot down instantly because some unpleasable buttinsky somewhere had a bad day.

On the other hand, bloggers who double down on being smarmy prats in the name of "self-expression" don't get far, either. Unfortunately, some of the blogs I once followed with great enthusiasm devolved into horrid examples of such lead-role-in-a-cage exhibitionism. One was an indie (not sure if he was self-pubbed) SF&F author who in time revealed themselves to be a reactionary prat, and who more than once threatened to close up shop because, get ready, nobody was replying to his posts in the comments. (If you can't do it when no one's looking, why bother?)

Much of my blogging on music and such in these pages was in honor of the best bloggers I've read who also talked about those subjects. I think maybe two or three times total I've come close to saying something on that level, and I also suspect one reason I haven't blogged much about such stuff recently is because I feel like so little of what I have to say on those subjects measures up now that I've seen how superbly others can write about them. It's hard to say "yes, this deserves your attention" but also say more than only that.

I always thought of the blogger as a curator — someone who communicates to the world what they feel like only they have come to know and speak about, even if it's not a narrow subject as such. Over time I came to feel the most valuable things I had to say were lessons I'd garnered from writing my books, and not my rather one-and-a-half-dimensional comments on this book or that movie. Curated inner experience came to matter more than curated outer experience. Most anyone could write a review of, say, The Matrix, but only I could talk about how my mispredictions about it before actually seeing it became creative fuel. And I say that knowing full well only I could write the review I did, but it matters more to me now that I find truly distinct things to say that aren't just opinionated takes on common cultural material.

Tags: blogging creativity