When did we, as a society, become so garrulous? Have we always been gossipers, schadenfreuders, busybodies and toe tappin’ whistlers-in-the-dark?
Oh, we can philosophize, delve into mystic depths, and we can be astute declarers of independence, no doubt, communing with gods and muses. But yeah, we’re gossipers too.
And it’s become easier to whine. The New Age has provided us with new mediums and platforms. And because there is often anonymity in our screeds, it often seems that the internet has just given people who have nothing to say another way to say it.
I run across profound inanities on Facebook and blogs everywhere, posts dealing with such trivialities as technically unhelpful refrigerator repair news, travel itineraries, and flat attempts at witticisms. I suppose I can be as guilty as any of these good-hearted quasi-philosophers of the mundane; they are not alone. We can be aggressively unapologetic, lamenting or praising something or other on our publicly shared To Do Lists. Others give vent to incomplete and unconsidered opinions. Interestingly I actually agree with or appreciate many of these posts, but conclusions become less palatable when they appear to have been arrived at by sloppy thinking and asserted with the vehemence of true believers. People I agree with are often sloppy, and others I do not in the least agree with display remarkably admirable exercises of logic.
(Which has taught me that, while crucial, logic by itself is not everything. But that’s a subject for another day.)
There are many other bloggers who are fun and/or rewarding to follow. Some are awfully (and purposefully) humorous, and others are observant and instructive. Many are just a delight to read, as a poem or a good book are delightful to experience.
It’s not easy being a responsible thinker or a practicing artist, or just a human being raising legitimate questions, seeking to get a bead on the various shades of reality, truth, beauty as well as dissembling and prejudiced conviction. Lord knows that I fail so repeatedly at the process myself.
So: why another blog?
Well, I suppose precisely because I so often fail at the process.
I remember reading somewhere — I no longer remember when or where, though I suspect it was in relation to an article in the National Geographic about the passing of the extraordinary naturalist and writer Aldo Leopold — that: It is doubtful that a man has thought deeply on a subject until he has written upon it. I think the quote was from some ancient Greek or Roman philosopher, I can’t remember who, nor have I been able to track its provenance.
Writing is related to speaking aloud, to conversation, only in writing you’re conversing with yourself. You expose yourself to your own cerebrations. Putting your thoughts into spoken or written words makes it easier to get a look at how good our thinking is, or how stupid or half-baked our opinions on other subjects can be. Writing, like conversation, is a testing and refinement of both what we think, and how we think.
Did I say that out loud?
And though others sometimes arrive at our conclusions before us, there’s always the chance that we might do it better, clearer, more expressively. The writer Paul Hogan wrote, “Everything has been said, but not everything has been said superbly, and even if it had been, everything must be said freshly over and over again.”
As a writer, blogs are also another opportunity to refine and hone our craft of self-expression. Practice makes perfect. It’s an opportunity to practice the discipline of saying what we mean, and meaning what we say. Know thyself. The wonderful science fiction author John Scalzi, who maintains an interesting and lively blog, says that he maintains a blog as literary exercise, to hone his tools and hoe the garden of words, to build a literary muscle memory.
So why another blog?
To practice, practice practice.
To learn the art of being awake.