State of the Blog Address, 2009

This past Saturday the 11th marked the anniversary of my first post, which means that I have been writing this thing that I now confess to be a blog for a little more than a year.  About the time I began, someone told me that the average life expectancy of a blog was something less than three months, and there were perhaps ten inactive blogs for every active one , so I told myself that I would not begin writing a blog unless I could commit to it for at least a year.  At that point, I thought, I would take stock of what the blog had produced and decide whether I wanted to continue it.  The result of that reflection was interesting for me, so I have included it below:

1. As I wrote some time ago, I have found the medium of the blog to accord surprisingly well with the rhythm and pace of my life.  It is adaptable to the many ways in which my other roles distract and interrupt my writing.  I am able to write as a part of how I live in any case.  This has been nothing short of a gift to me.

2. The practise of the blog has come to function, much as writing papers did in school or as my personal correspondence did for some years after, as a way to respond to what I am reading and to articulate what I am thinking.  I need to write in order to think and in order to remember, and this space not only allows me to write in such a way, but gathers what I have written in a kind of archive to which I can easily return.

3.  The site of the blog has become a means for dialogue with some of my immediate social and intellectual community, though much less well than I had hoped.  Many of those whom I had hoped to engage through this medium have not found themselves able to respond through it, and it is a regret to me that my attention to the blog has caused me to reduce the amount of correspondence that I maintain and has therefore lessened the amount that I interact with some of those whom I appreciate most.

4.  In compensation, however, the space of the blog has also connected me with some people whom I did not at all expect.  I began with the thought that I would write for my existing community of friends rather than for the internet in general, but I discovered that, on occasion at least, the internet was reading along as well and was willing to receive what I was writing with the greatest hospitality.  In some instances, these responses have become the basis for ongoing conversations that I value very much.

5.  Writing the blog has encouraged me to write through other mediums as well, to write more often and more broadly.  During the past year, for the first time in my life, I can say that I probably spent as much time writing as I did reading.  This has taken me by surprise, and I am still adjusting to the expanded role that writing has come to play in my daily life.  I have always identified myself as a reader, and I have recently come to identify myself as a teacher also, but I have recently been confronted by the possibility that writing now plays as large a part in my intellectual life as reading and teaching do.  I am sometimes frightened by this.

6.  Writing through the internet has caused me to think more deeply about the nature of the internet specifically and about the nature of electronic media more generally.  The question of how we are mediated by the digital has taken its place among the several questions that regularly recur for me.

7.  The simple practise of writing, broadly, repeatedly, almost promiscuously, has also caused me to think more deeply about the nature of writing itself.  I am increasingly aware of the limits of writing, and yet I am also increasingly aware of how necessary these limits are for me.  Writing has become a way for me to mark, provisionally and tentatively, but also absolutely and authoritatively, above all paradoxically, the limits of myself.

There is probably more that I could say, but I will not.  What I have said already will suffice, I think, to explain why I have decided to continue writing in this way for a little longer yet.  Let us say, at least, though I will commit to nothing further, that I hope to be making a similar address next year.

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