Tuesday, 6 January 2009
On Blogging 3: the politics
I used the impersonal third person pronoun quite deliberately then. Blogging is a question of ones. Websites become meeting places of potentially thousands of ones. But one is never exactly in a crowd, operating with the full dynamic of a crowd. It is not, in other words, a mob. I like that. People get excited, people say things they may or may not regret, people erect personae and pseudonyms to try out views and opinions. That seems healthy to me. The important thing is that they talk. When I first came across one of the most popular political sites, Harry’s Place, it seemed to me like a bar-room brawl. It was rough and rude. No one actually got hit. People could come and go there, like the ubiquitous Benji, and make contrary noises, but no one beat him up. It is only voices that are being kicked and punched. It is writing. Good writing is real, as I have said: the written existence, and the written existence should be able to take a beating. But even a written bar-room brawl quickly grows tedious. The writing goes out of the window. One might support (broadly) one side against another, but abuse is just abuse after a while.
Nevertheless there is a considerable amount of intelligence circulating in such places, at higher or lower temperature. I myself joined a website as an occasional contributor. The left wing Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War was Left as I understood, or rather liked the Left, in that it was clearly egalitarian and sprang from a kind of gut connection to what seemed to me passionate and worthwhile in the consciousness of the poor and the underprivileged. As the name suggests, it started as a reaction to something said by George Galloway about Christopher Hitchens. I am not a hero-worshipper of any sort but I’d take Hitchens against Galloway any time. Nor was I a supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It wasn’t so much that I was for them that I disliked the grounds and forms of rhetoric on which they were opposed. My favourite saying is the Simone Weil I have often quoted: Obedience to the force of gravity: the greatest sin. And in my field, the arts and humanities, there is a very strong gravitational pull. It doesn’t, of course, mean that the gravity is wrong, but it is always behovely to resist rather than going with the flow. Especially, or so I feel, for a writer.
Eventually of course one spends more time with like-minded people. There is local gravity everywhere you stand. One ought to resist them too, simply on the anti-gravitational or Groucho Marx principle of not joining any club that would have you as its member.
See, I have shifted through one’ and I’ to ‘you’. That ‘you’ is the sign of an emerging credo. The pronoun I have so far left unused is ‘we’. That is the pronoun I most distrust. Oh, how very much I prefer ‘you’ or ‘one’ to 'we'. Much harm comes of 'we'. One is simply stuck with ‘I’.