Why I blog

Here’s my list of reasons for blogging:

  1. Contingency. Blogging is a rather pure way of embracing contingency (chance). Like dropping a marble down a pachinko machine, I put a random thought out into the world and see what associations it provokes in me and anyone who might read and comment on it. Because I set no agenda for myself, on any given day there’s no telling what might catch my attention, or how a thought might percolate and lead to other thoughts. My blog is thus a living thing evolving in surprising ways. 
  2. Irony. I’m a Hamlet, and blogging gives me a place to stand astride the world and express my amusements, befuddlements, and doubts.
  3. Solidarity. Blogging is a way for me to practice the politics of humanity against the politics of disgust, cruelty, and authoritarianism (religious or otherwise). It makes me feel less helpless before the social forces that anger me. And the attentive reader will notice that my first three reasons for blogging mirror the title of a Richard Rorty book (Contingency, Irony, Solidarity ).
  4. Socratic dialogue. Socrates suggested that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who think that they already know the truth and those who are seeking the truth. If you think that you already know the truth you will engage in the rhetorics of persuasion to try and get audiences on your side, but if you are seeking the truth you will engage in dialectic (dialogue with others). Blogging gives me an opportunity to engage in both. When I’m persuaded of the truth of something, I might write a blog post expressing my opinion and offering supports for it, and when I hear from others in a thread at my blog I get the opportunity to engage in Socratic dialogue. I see Internet threads as a way to practice Socratic dialectic: a way of accelerating the acquisition of truths. Two heads are better than one.  
  5. Nietzschean aphorism. I see blogging as being in the family of Nietzschean aphorism. What I mean is that blog posts and aphorisms are like matches struck: they flare up, contribute light to a subject, then return to the darkness. A blog entry, like an aphorism, does not have the luxury of aspiring to permanence, as a book might, but it is still an act of the creative imagination. It does not pretend to encompass the whole of thought or existence, but it is a framing of it, from one point of view, however small, and for however brief a moment, before the beholder’s eyes.
  6. Soul catching in streams of light. After nearly two years of blogging, I’ve noticed that my blog entries have built up a kind of mirror reflecting my contingent soul’s motifs and obsessions. Put another way, my blog is a projection of a human persona in the form of pixellated screen light.
  7. Not my own personal Jesus, but my own personal Google. Blogging, by being stored on the worldwide web, becomes a form of memory retrieval. I can recall things I’ve thought and written about with a simple search.
  8. Free speech. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Walt Whitman would have loved blogging: it is a soap box on which individuals can have their democratic say.
  9. Value added. When I devote a post to what someone else says, or to a YouTube, I do not just point to it, but try to add value by putting a clever title on the post—or by interpreting, contextualizing, or arguing with what I’m pointing to. In other words, even when I’m assisting somebody else’s meme around the web, I’m doing so by adding value to it via my own self expression. I also like to find surprising things buried deep inside a long article or book that I might have read, and so bring that discreet and otherwise not widely noticed thought to the attention of others. 
  10. Holding a mirror up to humanity. Because it is not constrained to one subject, but free ranging, my blog is a small mirror held up—via my contingent and peculiar angle—on the human parade.
  11. Blogging is a way of practicing existentialism. A blogger is one who works with what is here now. She is the one who dances with words before a small audience on something of immediate concern to her. She knows that soon her performance on the stage will be dismantled and moved to another “city.” She knows that the audience will look in—as the crowds at the fair look in on the cage of Kafka’s hunger artist—and pass by quickly, seeking still more interesting spectacles. She understands the fleeting nature of what she is doing, and still she does it, and feels that she must do it. And because she is passionate, should she arrive again at the same situation (think here of Nietzsche’s notion of eternal recurrence) she would answer to the moment in exactly the same way, and write the same thing, hitting all of her lines as well as she could manage, without regret.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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