Back in Black

Quick Study has been grinding down to a standstill for quite some time, for reasons it would take a sustained essay on disenchantment with the internet even to begin to explain.

Looking back I am surprised to see even a couple of items here since the start of the month. They were distractions from grief. I barely remember posting them. We have had one reminder of mortality after another in this household lately. I'm not going into details because friends already know and who else would care?

But it's meant putting my scale of priorities up for close review. Blogging, here or anyplace else, has not been high on the list for a while now. Of late, it hasn't made the list at all. It requires a kind of sociability, however attenuated, that just hasn't been possible.

Sometimes, though, you have to fake it until you make it, and it seems like the time to attempt sociability again has come. At this point, I have barely any sense of whether this blog still even has a readership. Be that as it may, let me express appreciation to Jeet Heer for posting this -- and thank Eric Banks for announcing the book salon that I will be hosting Saturday at Firedoglake.

Also: I will be at Book Expo next week. It would be good to hear from friends who will be there. Let me stress the word friends. If you have just published the third in a series of novels about werewolf romance and are hoping I might write about it -- seriously, this is not the time.

I'm not encouraging you to come back later, either. It's just not going to happen. 
May 22, 2009 12:53 PM | | Comments (9)

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9 Comments

Scott,

Thanks to GoogleReader, I'm still here. Indeed, I suspect that you merely have a quiet, lurking readership among those of subscribed electronically. If you invest time with Quick Study, I guarantee it'll get some level of response. The question is this: Am I and those like me your target audience? Are we who you want to talk to? My problem is that I can't afford very much in the way of intellectual periodicals. Surely there are others like me, but with money, to support your work?!

- Tim

Like Tim, I have an RSS reader do my lurking for me. So there's no cost to keeping, as it were, the channel open.

Thanks, Tim, but the issue really is not economic. I make a living. Nor am I that concerned about building up traffic to this site.

On the contrary, what I find more and more off-putting is the implicit expectation of this medium that the writer ought to turn into a performer and a publicist. That has no place in my sense of purpose, so an aversion has been building up.

A few months ago a litblogger wrote something like: "The war between print critics and bloggers is over! We have much more power in influencing how books sell."

And I thought: "Well good for you, but I don't care about influencing sales. It isn't something that seems worth thinking about, and the whole 'print vs. blog' debate isn't either. To be read by smart and serious people more or less exhausts my ambition. But go right ahead and dance your little victory dance while I just turn away in embarrassment."

The notion of values that don't register in sales or hit-counts seems to go against the digital-populist grain. I'm not saying that anyone has to succumb. But there do seem to be certain norms to the ever-less-new media, and I don't want to adapt to anything without some degree of lucidity about doing so. Better late than never.

One of the things I love about blogging is that you're your own editor: nobody can stop you from blogging about what you want, when you want, how you want, no matter how much they think "you're doing it wrong."

And I can't imagine anyone who knows anything about this blog or your blogging .... neither 'habits' nor 'pattern' quite fit the bill ... expects anything other than random, quirky, etc.

Sorry about your difficulties.

Per Jeet Heer: "Intellectual life can be lonely and an academic is always lucky [to have] even a handful of readers who can understand what he or she is up to."

Not just academics. As your blogroll attests. And the readers who matter don't come with implicit expectations, nor group the blogs that matter with those that cater to such misconceptions. But the handful still come where there's something worth coming for. And frequency isn't at issue.

That said, many, myself included, share the disenchantment with sharing persistent ephemera (and with the internets: there's a reason they're plural now). It passes. Or modulates.

Scott wrote:

A few months ago a litblogger wrote something like: "The war between print critics and bloggers is over! We have much more power in influencing how books sell."

And I thought: "Well good for you, but I don't care about influencing sales. It isn't something that seems worth thinking about, and the whole 'print vs. blog' debate isn't either. To be read by smart and serious people more or less exhausts my ambition. But go right ahead and dance your little victory dance while I just turn away in embarrassment."

The notion of values that don't register in sales or hit-counts seems to go against the digital-populist grain.....

I hear you. The digital-populist norm seems to require incessant, ever-more-frantic dancing to remain relevant. And what counts as relevant within that norm seems to constrict as the years pass.

At the risk of being crankish, I'd add that populist seems too generous a term. At least Populists acted with some civic virtue when the creditors were screwing the debtors.

Yeah, there is something disagreeable about how the word has migrated, but now "populist" now applies to phenomena with no relationship at all to the old People's Party.

It is a way of characterizing certain rhetorical modes rather than any distinct ideology. My http://www.insidehighered.com/views/mclemee/mclemee241 ">column this week on the "conservative populism" of Little Orphan Annie gets into this some,

Yup, and it probably isn't worth contesting the term. A bit more of the original spirit (and aims) would be a welcome change.

Good interview. It reminds me to read Kim Phillips-Fein's new book on the history of modern American conservatism.

Scott, like the first few commenters, I too follow you via RSS. I have a lot of [read: too many] feeds in RSS, and I'm always looking to trim them down. Whenever I come across your latest work on Quick Study, however, I invariably see multiple posts affirming why I'll never cut the feed. Great work, thoughtful writing, and a sensibility that the Web could frankly use more of. So please keep on keepin' on.

Very sorry for your recent troubles. Hope things turn around for you shortly.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on May 22, 2009 12:53 PM.

Sic Transit Gloria was the previous entry in this blog.

A Consummation Devoutly to Be Wished is the next entry in this blog.

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