Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blogging: passing along what's left

In an effort not to make blogging an exercise in navel-gazing I have started and quickly abandoned two posts about blogging over the past month. I am learning to embrace my ambivalence about my efforts here at Καθολικός διάκονος. Frankly, ambivalence is what powers this blog, well, and blogspot.

I am currently reading the first volume of Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, which is a book I have been meaning to read for 8 or 9 nine years, at least since I read Roger Kimball's Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age. Reading a section of the novel last night under the heading "Speculations on the Intellectual Bull and Bear Market," Ulrich, who is the man without qualities, that is, the modern, or one might even say, despite Musil writing the book throughout most of the 1930s, post-modern man with a bit more of a scientific twist, asks Section Chief Tuzzi, husband of his flamboyant cousin, the irrepressible Diotima, at one of the latter's gatherings in preparation for the seventieth anniversary jubilee of the reign of Austro-Hungarian emperor, Franz Josef, "Have you ever noticed...that an incredible lot of people can be seen these days talking to themselves on the street?"

He goes on to note, apropos of blogging, "There's something the matter with people. It seems they're unable to take in their experience or else wholly enter into them, so they have to pass along what's left. An excessive need to write, it seems to me, comes from the same thing. You may not be able to spot this in the written product, which tends to turn into something far removed from its origin, depending on talent and experience, but it shows up quite unambiguously in the reading of it; hardly anyone reads anymore today; everyone just uses the writer to work off his own excess on him, in some perverse fashion, whether by agreeing or disagreeing."

Not long ago, a dear friend asked her blogging friends, What need that you have does blogging meet? It is a good question, a very good question, even an uncomfortable one, which are the most useful questions to ponder. I readily admit to often being overwhelmed by reality, by my impressions of what I experience. I cannot remember a time when this was not the case. I remember growing up sometimes feeling like I was going to explode. I still sometimes feel full to overflowing. Blogging certainly helps me with this. It's funny, people ask me, Where do you find the time to blog? Unlike my other friend's meaningful question, this is not a question I find very meaningful because the things I write about are things that arise in the normal course of a day for me; even then, it is only one of the things, typically. I write about issues that arise from my experience, at work, arising from my pastoral interactions, my personal relationships, or my interior life.

My first year of blogging in earnest I would find myself asking, Why do I do this? What value does it have? Over time I came to see that the second question was lacking an object. For whom does my blogging have value? I ultimately concluded that if blogging does not have value for me, then it is useless. My friend's question aided me in clarifying this question and posing it anew, in light of several years of experience. It's also important to consider the context, that is, the experience that caused my friend to pose her question, namely that a friend of hers, who lived near enough to get together, took to posting about things, issues, that might better be discussed with someone, another person, someone who cares, will listen, etc. So, while blogging must have intrinsic value for me, it is not a substitute for my even greater need for others, for personal relationships, connections. et al.


  1. Below is part of a lengthy comment left by an anonymous commenter. It constitutes a post unto itself, which is why it appears in a truncated format- that and the fact it was left anonymously, which I always find a little problematic. It was given the title "Ambivalence." It bears noting that my ambivalence, meaning to be of two minds about something at the same time, does not result in confusion, but is an energizing tension.

    "It was less than 2 years ago when I questioned whether God would have me live longer or remove me from this earth also (... as I had recently seen the passing of those I loved). I didn't fear death but instead found myself feeling strangely ambivalent toward my own fate....

    "I can only imagine how bizarre my email presented itself. Lacking inspiration, direction, I had not written in many years. My words both awkward and uncertain were met with love and assurance. I began writing more and more. At times, I would consider stopping for fear that I might say so much that doubt of the incredulously of events would create an environment of disbelief. Yet, when I prayed to God for guidance I was left with such a fantastic sense of love/light that I could only trust this man more...

    "... I can't help but to think that blogging is any different than a movie. We aren't the ones who make things happen. I searched and prayed for years and years before unwittingly stumbling upon my path. In God's time, everything is possible. For me, church and peers weren't enough. I needed people much like yourself reaching out in more unconventional ways for me to find the doors to church."
    Without intending to be the least bit snarky, I’d have to say that for me blogging is all too conventional, which is why it is made up of what is left over.

  2. I like snarky. Be it yay or nay. Snarky was delightfully refreshingly real. I laughed aloud. Crazy as it may be, I still laugh. My post was just as you suspect: a post unto itself. I had been surfing... one page to another and happened by here. Something about ambivalence sparked. Before I knew it, words had been written which seemed to correlate with the original post vaguely, if at all...
    Choose to toss it or tie it in through conclusion. I wrote a conclusion and dropped it on your page. Snarky is great. It's real.
    Sometimes it seems there are so many rules applied -- expectations of being politically correct, civil, proper... that a conclusion is nearly mandatory and snarky can be interpreted as rude.
    I was reading last night. The binding, consistant agent/energy/pattern of earth itself rests within its rebirth/renewal. All things come, go and return again in some way. Conclusions seem more a transient resting place. Snarky, to me, was merely a reflection of that.

  3. Anyway, thanks for dropping by and thanks for sharing your experience.


God's love for us is tireless

Readings: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34 No doubt you've heard the saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...