Okay, then, I will.
“How To Blog” is very good.
I had ordered a copy of “Stiff” from Tony Pierce, of the BusBlog, and because there was some lateness in the sending, Tony threw in a copy of “How To Blog”, which also features many fine BusBloggings.
Why is Tony’s writing so pleasing? For one, there is the sense – even when he’s making crap up – that he’s leveling with you. There is a clear, loud honesty in his style – which may be an affectation, but I tend to doubt it. This directness is the great strength of blogging and Tony nails it.
The blog – whatever it is (it’s more than just a “web log”, we know that much) – is as close as we’ve yet come to a genuine one-on-one between creator and audience. You could say theater is capable of a similar thing, but you are still in a formalized setting, taking part in a ritual where one party sits and the other party – however intimately – performs a performance performingly. In the blog, the positions of audience and creator are always in motion. The blogger creates, the audience responds – an audience which includes other bloggers – and the blogger responds to that response. And the audience can be one person or, literally, a billion. If the normal human conversation could be raised to a high art and integrated with colors, sounds, and a kaleidoscope of supporting information, I guess that would be the blog. I guess that is the blog.
If you’ve listened to Tony P’s podcasts, you can hear his straightforwardness in the way he interviews fellow bloggers. Some of us would be – are – inclined toward self-glorification in a conversation, but Tony appears to be genuinely interested in what his interviewees are thinking and feeling and doing. God-for-flippin’-bid. Likewise, his blogging often has the ring of a guy genuinely interested in telling you the best stories he can tell right now, presenting the most useful facts about his life. The word that keeps rising to my mind is “generosity”.
I aspire to that kind of generosity. That straightforwardness. I come out of a writer experience where building an impersonal construct for the reader to examine (while the writer himself is out back having a cigarette) is an ideal. Sometimes this presentation of artifice leaks its way into my conversation – and, of course, into my bloggage. But that will change. I don’t know how. Or why. Or whether for good or bad. But it will change, because that’s just what happens.
The artist is traditionally a self-absorbed figure. When he can actually be in love with things other than himself, large wonderfulness may result. I tend to fall into the fallacy that the opposite of self-absorption is self-hatred – which is looney nonsense. Self-hatred and self-absorption are identical. The opposite of self-absorption is OTHER-absorption. I must learn to be more absorbent of others. I shall do dishes and muse upon my sponge.
Wait. Did I say “artist”?
Is blogging an art form?