Blogs, Form and Sense: A Compendium

Maybe in the early days of blogging the medium seemed poised to open new dimensions of creative expression, where all sorts of people could express anything from themselves to other stuff. In reality, human creativity is rarely marketable as such beyond the scope of individuals and small groups. It probably has to do with being a human myself, but from the proverbial birds-eye view people and their actions look less like unique liberated snowflakes and more like snow.

Now we know there is a finite number of genres available to the entry level blogger. What is less often acknowledged is that just like corporate news, each of these genres carry with them their own structural logic of representation, which manifests as their own built-in ‘slant.’

To stay objective, we’ll avoid immediate issues (like health care) and pick some old news. Here‘s a topical AP piece from last month:

UNITED NATIONS — Out of genocides past and Africa’s tumult a controversial but seldom-used diplomatic tool is emerging: The concept that the world has a “responsibility to protect” civilians against their own brutal governments.

At the U.N. General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pushed Tuesday for more intervention for the sake of protection.

“The question before us is not whether, but how,” Ban told the assembly, recalling two visits since 2006 to Kigali, Rwanda. The genocide memorial he saw there marks 100 days of horror in which more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates from the Hutu majority were slaughtered.

“It is high time to turn the promise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ into practice,” Ban said.

How does the blogosphere respond? I limit myself to blogs of the ‘left-of-center’ persuasion — whatever differences in ideology they may have are also differences in style. That, at least, is my working hypothesis.

The linkblog:

Unhappy Monday links:

– Think we’re out of the recession? Doug Henwood says think again.

‘Expert warns against advent of ‘Terminator’-style military robots.’ If you’re unemployed, don’t sell your Playstation — there may be hope for you yet:

The US currently has 200 Predators and 30 Reapers and next year alone will be spending US$5.5bn (€3.84bn) on unmanned combat vehicles.

At present these weapons are still operated remotely by humans sitting in front of computer screens. RAF pilots on secondment were among the more experienced controllers used by the US military, while others only had six weeks training, said Prof Sharkey. “If you’re good at computer games, you’re in,” he added.

Ender’s Game, here we come.

– In foreign policy news, the “responsibility to protect” doctrine has been getting more and more airtime. According to President Obama, there are “exceptional circumstances in which I think the need for international intervention becomes a moral imperative, the most obvious example being in a situation like Rwanda where genocide has occurred.”

As an on-again off-again pacifist, I’m deeply skeptical about any use of military force (particularly U.S.-led), but must confess not knowing nearly enough about the situation in Rwanda to make a sound judgment on that score.

– To compensate for your worries of U.N.-backed robot takeover, say hello to TOFU, “the ponderously eyebrowed robot fuzz owl with OLED eyes and some seriously rhythmic body jams.” Via (who else?) BoingBoing Gadgets.

The libblog:

I know we tend to stick to domestic politics around here, but if the Afghanistan/Iraq debacles have taught us anything, it’s that in this country we can’t afford to treat foreign and domestic policy as completely separate issues. The corporate media try to make it easy by chronically underreporting anything they can get away with, but this conditioned state of ignorance is unsustainable. The state of one affects the state of the other.

In the field of international relations, the issues of sovereignty and the right of other nations to intervene is a highly vexed issue. How do we legitimate ‘good’ uses of force, like Kosovo and Haiti, while preventing ‘bad’ ones, like Iraq? How do we reliably prevent acts of genocide, as in Rwanda or (arguably) Darfur, without risking the misuse of the same rhetoric for neo-imperialist purposes?

An increasingly important potential solution is emerging, known as ‘responsibility to protect,’ or R2P.

[here follow about 1,500 words of analysis of policy documents with links to the original pdfs)

In conclusion, a renewed liberal international order is our only hope. There is a real difference between a liberal, internationalist hegemony and an imperial, nationalist one; in fact it’s all the difference in the world. And we have the power to push our nation’s policy and culture toward the one and away from the other. Not just the power, I would argue, but the duty: religious fundamentalism and the Bush White House’s excessive response to it have shown us that universalism without tolerance is a recipe for global catastrophe.

I know I can’t speak for all of you on this one. It’s something that as liberals we need to discuss, and I urge you to get the ball rolling in the comments below. Keep it respectful, y’all.

The professional ‘expert’ as editorialist or someone who blogs under the assumption that their (usually well-respected) professional specialty gives them unique insight into events that often have little or nothing to do with that specialty:

…in my book, Twitsturbation Nation: How the Internet Generates Community, I made the argument that traditionalist notions of autocratic sovereignty would be the first major casualty of the Internet’s production of society from below, one narcissistic avatar at a time. Today, even the biggest figures in international leadership are keenly aware that Web access is changing the way politics works at all levels, from policy to advocacy, from elections to revolution. “You cannot have Rwanda again,” Gordon Brown said last month, “because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken. Foreign policy can no longer be the province of just a few elites.”

I don’t say this simply to brag about my foresight, but to make an important point about how attitudes change. Not long ago, the U.N. held a conference on the ‘responsibility to protect,’ a new doctrine that would set new standards for humanitarian intervention. In the past, even to attempt such a thing would have been immediately (and wrongheadedly) denounced as ‘imperialism’ by most liberals, and, post-Somalia, as sheer folly by realists. But we live in a different age. Life on the Internet is changing the way we think about the responsibility we have to one another, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or religious differences. How else could a stolen election in Iran generate such spontaneous support among the youth of its national enemy, the U.S.? It’s true that many suffering people don’t have access to the Internet, much less platforms like Twitter. But our imaginations have expanded to include them, and aid programs are not far behind. If this talk of responsibility sounds terribly old-fashioned, perhaps  one should draw comfort from another ancient adage: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The ‘literary’ editorialist or the blogger who, motivated by a frustrated ambition to be a novelist (successful novelists don’t have time for ‘real’ blogging, see below), attempts a form of online commentary that is literature in its own right :

“May you live in interesting times.” So goes the ancient Chinese proverb which is not a blessing, but a curse. And yet, even after the amused Western reader recognizes this, that ‘interesting’ retains its double edge. For we must admit that most suffering is not interesting whatsoever, even to the sufferers themselves. Suffering is common. Suffering is boring.

So it is almost surprising to the typical U.S.-ian solipsist (yours truly) to read about occasions like this, when serious policy thinkers debate in serious policy language the future of ‘humanitarian intervention,’ justifying the refocusing of the war machine with shocked, shocked descriptions of brutal, nay, genocidal violence still going on in darkest Africa. As if its persistence were in violation of some cosmic ordinance and not just the willfully impoverished cant of Empire, the Beast that rapes the already pillaged; as if the history of suffering had not already been printed in history books, academic journals, even (cough!) newspapers.

Though this is perhaps not so surprising: because politics is boring too.

And I, I struggle once again for inspiration, and the nerve (the blessed, unholy nerve) to write once again the already written.

The propagandist:

Another day, another insult to sanity:

[Ban Ki-Moon] advised limiting U.N. action under the ‘responsibility to protect’ concept to safeguarding civilians against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. He acknowledged the possibility of some nations “misusing these principles” as excuses to intervene unnecessarily, but said the challenge before the U.N. is to show that “sovereignty and responsibility are mutually reinforcing principles.”

This is the same old messianic language of imperial violence, rephrased to appeal to latte-sipping Hardt-Negrian shills. All states are on the verge of ‘failure,’ and can only be evaluated by external criteria. Never mind the totally negligible and contingent fact that some states are ‘too big to fail.’ People are suffering, dammit!

Far from a universal degradation of sovereignty, what this amounts to is the invisible justification of a few ueber-powerful states, based on two mutually defining concepts of ‘failure.’ Under this proposed division of governmental labor, a country like the U.S. has a ‘responsibility’ (entirely unrelated to its ‘excesses’) to ‘supply’ military force to nations that, whether because sanctioned by the U.S. or on the wrong end of the international ‘free’ market, are unable or unwilling to prevent human rights abuses. ‘Success’ means either a) all nations magically achieve the status of liberal capitalist states with their militaries outsourced to the U.S./U.N. or b) the U.S./U.N. ‘intervenes’ and punishes the evildoers.


I’d go into more depth, but Lenin’s Tomb has beaten me to the punch — make sure you check out these two typically awesome and well-researched posts.

One last thing: good to see folks getting disillusioned with Obama’s domestic politics, but his ideological misreading of Rwanda and tacit support for ‘R2P’ once again reinforces the obvious: that he’s just as firm a supporter of imperialist intervention as Bush, despite his pragmatic reservations.

Let’s keep fighting, y’all.

The Critical Theorist:

The following video clip illustrates a salient point I want to make about ‘the call’ to humanitarian intervention (periodically resurrected in mainstream political discourse despite frequent criticisms; for an example see the increasing popularity in policy circles of the odious ‘new’ doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’) as a standard ideological gesture, in Jameson’s terminology an ideologeme, “the smallest intelligible unit of the essentially antagonistic collective discourses of social classes.”

The sublime moment comes when we are told that “This is Reality” precisely because “We Have The Power To Change It.” The shift involved is purely anamorphotic, a shift internal to our own perspective: we cease to be the moral subject negatively threatened with a loss of reality in relation to the significance of its categorical claims and become this subject of transformative Power in relation to this (subsequent) representation of (the True) Reality alongside essentially Sublime objects. But this sudden shift in the phenomenological value of the image content becomes one of utopian positivity when and since it prominently features an anonymous, well-funded team of caring ‘peace core types.’ To follow Zizek’s reading of ideologically sublime objects, the paradox is hence that “pure difference” between the form of our moral subjectivity with its impossible categorical mandates and the real conditions of objective violence which underlie it as revealed by the ad’s negative perception, become the point of their greatest Truth, of their sublime Identity with ‘Reality’ through the supplement-object as the representation of the other ‘subject supposed to care.’ The starving African children become the Real of moral tragedy not because of the descriptive content their images are supposed to represent (that they are in fact in Africa which is in fact plagued by readily observable and structurally necessary economic and political instability) but precisely because they signify the point at which our categorical moral claims become meaningless, because Africa is the place in which ‘inalienable human rights’ become inapplicable in the face of the objective historical necessity of incomplete ‘development,’ and the ostensibly ‘supplementary’ fiction of the ‘NGOther’ becomes essential.

This is the paradoxical moment of the Kantian sublime, in which “a[n enjoyable] representation arises where we would least expect it” of the Truth beneath our avowed categorical moral claims, at the point of the very impossibility of fully realizing our formal categorical moral subjectivization within the symbolic order. Following Lacan’s famous reading of Kant via Sade, we can say that this reveals the truly Sadean dimension of the Kantian moral law. Just as the Sadean fantasy imposes upon the subject the impossible pathological injunction to enjoy his victim’s sublime body without any regard for the limitations imposed upon it by real mortality, the Kantian categorical moral law is “the Real of an unconditional imperative which takes no regard for the limitations imposed upon us by reality—it is [a formally equivalent] impossible injunction.” Hence the subject is ‘freed’ from burden of its impossible demands through the presentation of this very impossibility, by submitting to the ad’s ‘irrational’ categorical imperative, and thus it only fully assumes this identity in a disavowed, ‘properly distanced’ manner, through the moral object supposed to care, the transcendentally ‘free’ subject of transformative Power whose ‘gear’ begins to fill the screen.  In this sense the sublime experience is, following Zizek, strictly one of false inter-activity: as our traumatic kernel of real-life impotence/passivity is transcended by the little other(qua imaginary subject supposed to care)’s enacted desire, our real-life activity becomes structurally equivocal with the enactment of this desire in the gaze of an impersonal, unconsciously assumed big Other.

The act of donation is hence properly a phenomenon of surplus jouissance, literally the enjoyment of sense, of the (material and hence significant) making of sense: ‘joui-sense’ is precisely this sublime experience of a signification who’s meaning is only truly known by the Other object-supplement (its imaginary referent) but is formally assumed by the subject as its ‘efficient’ cause. But from the very beginning of the ad we are already ‘sublimely’ subject to the obscene injunction to enjoy ‘our’ own subjective position precisely as a barred subject, as the contingent content of the enunciation of a categorical ‘You’ that perhaps also enjoys what has now come to be the simulacral myth of Michael Jackson-type innocence: one that survives despite being foreclosed from the formal Law as such. The realized injunction to donate is hence not only a ‘truly sincere’ investiture in the sublime meaning produced, but the assumption of this impossible-real objective presentation as a subjectively necessary condition for this ‘meaning’ to exist as the retroactively attributed Truth to ‘Your’ ‘real’ activity. Is this not the perfect analogue to injunctions of ‘international law’ and their justifications? The point is to realize that both ‘support’ for any given ersatz ‘law’ devised in the interests of global capitalism’s elite oligarchs and individual donations to humanitarian NGOs are made effectively real for the subject only by passively making what is, in fact, a ‘purely symbolic’ gesture for the gaze of an assumed big Other, and that the sublime enjoyment we gather from our fundamentally passive ‘participation’ is that of producing a signification of this Other’s desire, of assuming the subjective role of an object-cause for this Other’s active enjoyment.

The hipster editorialist:

Yall. Starting to get annoyed seeing sOO many blogs and ‘articles’ about celebrities trying 2 ‘make a difference’ by applying their personal brands to ‘3rd world shitholes’ (i.e. Hotel Rwanda). I feel like ‘activism’ oriented vaycays have prior brand identity as what MSTRMers and meaningfulcore bros do in college over the summer to ‘find themselves.’ Feels ‘unfair’ for celebrities with private jets to make 10x of a difference in 1 weekend than u and me ever could in our entire lives.

It’s kinda weird how ur supposed to go somewhere where ppl are ‘less fortunate than u’ at some point in ur life. Whether it is Africa, New Orleans, Detroit, or rural Missouri, there are people who are less fortunate than ‘us’ every where. Just want to appreciate my family + personal social networks on the internet more than ever when I see people who are ’suffering’, ‘uneducated’, ‘hungry’, and ‘0% self-aware.’

Sort of feel bad that I dont ‘get’ ‘what the big deal is’ about Africa. Not sure why I’m supposed to care about ‘millions’ of ‘lil negroes’ who don’t add value to my lifestyle/product lines. It’s hard 2 integrate ‘giving a shit about the world’ with my post-chillwave personal brand. But there comes a time when every entity with a ‘public voice’ has to use their voice 4 good. I don’t know what cause I’m going to rally around, but it will probably be something tangible/meaningful in my ‘personal life.’

How bout yall?
Do yall feel like Africa should be ‘first on the agenda’ for 2k10?
Does ‘the West’ (via Barry Obama) have a ‘responsibility 2 protect’ ‘troubled regions’?
Any ideas 4 how 2 spread chill values like ‘human rights’ and access to sweet social networks to places where ‘folks can’t read’ and/or vote?
Should ppl just ‘mind their own damn business’?

The self-promoter – all blogs are fundamentally tools for self-promotion. But some bloggers are of such elite status that they don’t have time for anything else. This status can’t be gained purely through blogging, only by taking advantage of the blog’s effect on one’s career. The struggling novelist publishes with Harper Collins. The professional editorialist begins to appear on TV. Etc. While sometimes difficult to tell apart from the linkblog, the promoter”s slightly higher ratio of self-disclosure (treating the blog literally as an ‘online journal’)  is one sign that they are in fact of two distinct species — celebrities and normals. It is at any rate the final stage of evolution for all blogs:

This morning I woke up to this outside my window. Ah, Brazil. How I loathe to leave thee.

– Launch party for the new book next Friday at the Hive. Open bar after my reading. I’ll see you there.

– Interview up at DesignBlog.

– My good friends Ted Brand and Sylvie are performing tonight at the Pinhook. Mp3s available here. I (obviously) can’t make it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Show some love!

– Thanks to Kamau for bringing this link to my attention: some interesting debates going on in the U.N. about international responsibility post-Rwanda. Speaking of which, donate money to this site.

God bless.


30 Responses to “Blogs, Form and Sense: A Compendium”

  1. I want to believe that it is out of a megalomaniac sense that I am better than all these styles that I struggle to post anything to my blog more frequently that once a week.

    But it’s less that than laziness. And the “working out” of things I used to blog about more often with fleshly conversations. And zotero, which vacuums up all my notes now.

  2. Getting follow up comments. Anyway, what do you make of these ‘styles’?

    I would be interested in seeing

    1) how typical web-viewership breaks down. I suspect that it would be something along the lines of major, then submajor, then minor nodes of activity. So, for the people who read lenin’s tomb, and then comment on it on their own linkblog, it goes something like this: there’s a whole slew of people who (critically) read the guardian and beeb and NYT, including lenin himself; then there are those who read LT; then there are the hundreds of minor blogs that refract. The first segment is ‘broad’, and is made up of millions; LT viewers of thousands; and the ‘cells’ that refract it, of tens, groups of friends, etc. Mapping the flows of information and its critique through this might be interesting. And possible, given out technologies.

    2) how these flows are being monetized.

  3. Geir (Gerhardt) Smith Says:

    obama’s the antichrist

  4. traxus4420 Says:

    “I want to believe that it is out of a megalomaniac sense that I am better than all these styles”

    wouldn’t that be worse than laziness?

    you’re doing better than once a month (my current production rate).

    there were some mainstream news sites that showed you who was blogging their articles, right? i’m also too lazy to look up who that was/is right this second. technorati would be one way of compiling the info for a data map though i’m constantly frustrated by how that site is organized and how the rankings are figured. it would definitely make this guy’s job a lot easier (another ‘genre’ i missed – the full-time troll). but beyond ranking i’d be interested in how the references are contextualized. is the cite mocking? reverent? piggybacking?

    as for what i think about them — i could just say ‘it’s all right there’ — i made these pastiches because i thought i might miss something just writing critiques off the top of my head, and of course because this seemed more fun — but that seems like a cop-out. mainly these are exaggerated representatives of the blogs i read. i do find, for example, that 90% of the ‘hard left’ blogs in my RSS will link to LT whenever they’re posting on the same thing. louis proyect maybe 75%. people make the libblogger’s arguments on Talking Points Memo and Open Left all the time, the lacanian always reduces everything to the response of the idealized subject, the zizekian always makes it about watching tv, linkbloggers don’t leave themselves the space to make arguments, etc. etc.

    the positions have their established style, the styles have their menu of possible positions. can you find me a leninist blog written in the tone of liberal ‘reasonableness’ for example.

  5. Provocative post. To give some credence to the “propagandist” outlook (which I imagine you’re also somewhat sympathetic to, but included in your satire partly out of a moral duty to satirize one and all equally; maybe I’m wrong), the debate on R2P at the UN with Chomsky began with a defense of R2P by Ban Ki Moon’s assistant that basically refused to accept criticism of R2P (“Responsibility to Protect is not interventionism and any discussion of it in that light is not constructive”). The pro-R2P crowd dismissed Chomsky’s history of interventionism because “Responsibility to Protect is not interventionism”. His argument was discredited because R2P apparently has no history (“it was the result of a long process of drafting that finally arrived at consensus”, consensus here being the UN equivalent of “the world of God”).

    Back to the actual topic of the post, perhaps the mistake, if we can call it that, was to have too much faith in blogging from the beginning. For me, I didn’t come in at the beginning, so the “irrational exuberance” was all subjective, not a social phenomenon. I got extremely excited that one could find out about the world without it coming through the filter of (blech) CNN. I got excited that one could share ideas and send them on, etc. But I couldn’t attribute this exuberance to the entire “blogosphere” because most bloggers had long since arrived at this conclusion.

    This is a good post. Somewhat uncomfortable to read.

    Oh, and just on a realistic note: The “literary editorialist” would never blog about R2P.

  6. Geir (Gerhardt) Smith Says:

    check out this page

  7. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks alex (and jcd, and, hell, why not even g. smith)!

    for anyone interested, here‘s an audio file of the R2P conference.

    ideologically i’m 100% with the propagandist.

    i’m surprised they even let chomsky in — though that may simply be that i live in the u.s. where he’s treated like a ufo spotter

    it’s true, i can only think of one ‘literary editorialist’ who would blog about this (roger at limited inc/news from the zona), but the intervention issue, especially re: rwanda and africa in general, is big enough that anyone can feel entitled to an opinion without knowing any particulars. i probably could have picked a less obscure topic that was still related.

    i think your version of irratonal exuberance is actually very rational and more at the forefront of what blogging is about. the creativity ‘meme’ is more like residue.

  8. There’s actually a story behind them letting Chomsky in: the current President of the General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann ( (he read the second introduction at the R2P debate), comes out of Liberation Theology; he was even a member of the Sandanistas. Here’s a list of the senior advisers he appointed upon becoming president of the general assembly: Brother David Andrews CSC (USA), Ms. Maude Barlow (Canada), Mr. Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria), Mr. Leonardo Boff (Brazil), Mr. Kevin Cahill (USA), Mr. François Houtart (Belgium), Mr. Noam Chomsky (USA), Mr. Ramsey Clark (USA), Mr. Richard Falk (USA), Mr. Michael Kennedy (USA), Ms. Eleonora Kennedy (USA), Mr. Olivier De Schutter (Belgium), Mr. Joseph Stiglitz (USA), Sir John E. Sulston (UK), Mr. Howard Zinn (USA). Ideologically, he’s the antithesis of Ban Ki Moon, which I think comes from the difference in the way they are selected: the Secretary General is nominated by the Security Council and then voted on by the General Assembly, whereas the President of the General Assembly is selected and voted on by the General Assembly, chosen on a rotating basis among five groups, African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean, and Western European and other States.

    This is to say that I think that Chomsky is as anathema among the bigwigs in the UN as he is among the bigwigs in the US, but with the power structure of the General Assembly, one gets a more diverse range of opinions.

  9. anxiousmodernman Says:

    Very perceptive post. That you nail the “voices” so clearly indicates that 1) you’re a good writer and 2) you and I are reading a lot of the same blogs.

    What accounts for the similarity in tone across this left-political blog spectrum? Since we can’t look inside each blogger’s head, the only observable phenomena are the structures of the blogosphere, right? I think the rough sketch provided by JCD above feels correct. There are facts that originate (from the MSM, authoritative governmental or non-governmental sources, or even empirical fragments like youtube clips), then there seems to be a “core” of dedicated high-traffic blogs that comment (Lenin’s Tomb), and then a zillion blogs that comment on the periphery of the core.

    Perhaps the relatively small number of “core” blogs accounts for the narrowness of style. I can only speculate. Another question: if someone were to try to do for the blogosphere what Herman and Chomsky did for the MSM in Manufacturing Consent, how could this undertaking even be attempted?

  10. Geir (Gerhardt) Smith Says:

    traxus, thanks for your answer.
    Has anyone read the link ? I know it’s difficult and one has to be a pro to understand it. It deals with relaities of spiritual realms that Materialists cannot fathom although Materialism is spirituality. Doesn’t Marx take everything from the Book of Revelations which he quotes throughout Das Kapital ? From it comes the Workers Paradise. A totally chimerical illusion which he invented but that is actually a hell. Karl saw hisself (mistake intentional) as the Messiah. Wre got homeboy Barack now instead.

    But to resume…. the pros out there, anyone with university education ? I see no one has picked up the ball.
    Don’t worry, Obama will fall in a few hours or maybe days possibly. I’d give him hours.
    The revealing of his evilness is happening.
    He’s a thug and should be revealed.
    The Chicago mobsters.
    Low-life thugs.

  11. Traxus, don’t tell me that the lit blogger is me. Cause even at my worst, I certainly don’t begin with cliches that seem fresh off the page of the inspiration section of Investors Daily – I can only think that I would write about the international human rights biz to wipe my ass on it – and certainly my dying falls, or complaints about my lack of success in the world, aren’t pity for myself, but accusations hurled against a world that could only satisfy the infinite injuries it has done me by throwing itself facedown in the dust before me, howling, piteously cutting and whipping itself, and in general doing penitence under my feet for the rest of my days. As is only proper.

  12. traxus4420 Says:

    roger – i’m nowhere near the writer to try to parody you! well, maaaybe the boredom part. but in hackneyed intros and general sloppiness probably closer to one of the new yorker blogs or contributors to paper cuts (or the mass of scribblers who regurgitate said posts). george packer’s even has the chinese curse (which of course isn’t really) as his title! though oddly it seems to work better there… or there’s some product of the litblogs/e-journals, who occasionally will post opinion pieces.

    really roger, if i tried to ‘do’ you how could i make it seem generic? plus my french isn’t good enough.

  13. traxus4420 Says:

    OR, in the interests of full disclosure and self-criticism, at times, this blog veers into ‘literary’ territory (in the bad way).

  14. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks, modernman,

    “if someone were to try to do for the blogosphere what Herman and Chomsky did for the MSM in Manufacturing Consent, how could this undertaking even be attempted?”

    manufacturing consent is one part map, another part transcendental analytic — i would think (and hope) that for blogs the latter would not be a valid approach. you could map out who’s reading/linking to what without too much difficulty (and this is often done). a scientific version of what my caricature post would probably require some sort of text mining analysis, a subject i understand very little of.

    what would really be hard is doing the equivalent of viewer opinion surveys. at any point along this chain of links someone can link in something outside the MSM/’elite’ blog core. and again, who knows how those links are being contextualized? you and i read lots of different ‘types’ of blogs.

    i suspect there is more pressure to conform to a set of recognizable opinions and formats on the production end than the consumption end.

  15. traxus4420 Says:

    g. smith — my “and hell, thanks g. smith too” was typed before i saw the apocalypse/birther youtube video you posted and realized you were serious. it’s not because your material is complicated that no one is responding to you, but because we regularly watch jon stewart make jokes about it on the daily show. you may have been confused by my incoherent post but this is not your demographic. you should apologize to your producer for wasting his/her/its time.

  16. “Very perceptive post. That you nail the “voices” so clearly indicates that 1) you’re a good writer and 2) you and I are reading a lot of the same blogs”

    @geir: Anxiousmodernman was talking to Traxus, not you. Apparently, interpretation is not your strong point, but who has time to interpret when one is busy being the smartest person in the world?

    Seriously, go spam some other blog.

  17. traxus4420 Says:

    gsmith, you are now forbidden to post here and your last few comments have been deleted. it’s for your own good.

  18. Mr. T., sorry for flying off the handle there. I did not know Packer had a blog – and that he calls it, oh weeping Jesus, Interesting Times! I bet he actually thinks it is a Chinese proverb!

  19. Patrick Mullins Says:

    ‘i suspect there is more pressure to conform to a set of recognizable opinions and formats on the production end than the consumption end.’

    Hey, that sounds quite modest, but it’s the truth, isn’t it? And in between, you get the ‘infrequent blogger’ like you, which is a bit more like me, this notorious creature (I realize most consider this an understatement; I like to think your tolerance of me, since it is you alone who do–although I don’t comment elsewhere than you know where, is somewhat like Arpege’s infinite shetlering of lustmolch…and some of the time I even behave here..)So there are some other aspects, I think you describe something I’ve always identified as a kind of ‘blogger cronyi8sm’, and it’s because you don’t do it obsessively that it begins to come off as a more important new post when you do (no offense, roger, you write well, of course, I’m actually thinking about someone who does not write well and always needs a large amount of ‘reassurance’, and YOU give it too…lol…I will say traxus withholds some of that). So then, I’m always writing my Sex Delirium every day, a fairly unusual ‘sinccure’ by now, but I still have managed not to have a blog that was literally my own, so it’s forced some real-life types of arm-twisting on me, although I DON’T expect any sympathy from anybody about that, now DO we…? ON the other hand, I’ve never had a taint of cronyism to me, although I doubt that’s enough of the virtues, of course. But, as you know, it actually led to me to exactly what I wanted, although I ‘should have been able to settle for something else’, or whatever, stop being so demanding and having to have exactly what you want, etc., but so you find that there is a whole spectfum, and you find these flexibilities such as I have, even though there’s hell to pay. You mentioned the elite blogs, which are also interesting because they are where the true ensconcing of new media is. Joah Marshall makes a very comfortable living, and yet there is nothing especially glamorous about TPM, I used to use it a good bit, he’s a good live-blogger as during elections, although Katheryn Seelye too, so these newspaper blogs are another form. And very rarely any real interaction, because impossible to do so as on Krugman’s blog. One girl at the ballet board said no, Patrick, there’s lots of discussion at Nic Kristoff’s board, but I doubt that by the terms we in this constellation are used to, that there really is. Those msm blogs, like that religion blog at WaPo, are interesting in that they are really like aol char rooms, people screaming at each other and never being spoken to by the blog writer, and never discussing anything beyond one exchange–but those are technically important, even if pretty quick to evaporate. btw, if you want to, it would be good to delete those old posts I wrote–I’m not quite so STRIATED now :}

  20. Patrick Mullins Says:

    gsmith, you are now forbidden to post here and your last few comments have been deleted. it’s for your own good.

    lol, you are cute. Also, I forgot to mention that this really is a first-rate post. Why, I read MOST of i!l

  21. I liked the blog entry from ‘CRLS.’


  22. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks yall.

    “Those msm blogs, like that religion blog at WaPo, are interesting in that they are really like aol char rooms, people screaming at each other and never being spoken to by the blog writer”

    yeah this is a weird phenomena. on one level i sort of like it — the idea of a comments box just being a place where others can deliver monologues, without any expectation of interchange or even civility. then after the populist sentiment wears off comes the terrible/sublime sense of supremely pointless activity.

    definitely my list isn’t all-inclusive. i believe in human creativity.

  23. “definitely my list isn’t all-inclusive. i believe in human creativity.”

    I can’t tell if this makes you optimistic or pessimistic.

  24. anxiousmodernman Says:

    “@JCD – come on, that’s optimism plain as day!,” the optimist anxiousmodernman wrote, after much hesitation.

    …i suspect there is more pressure to conform to a set of recognizable opinions and formats on the production end than the consumption end.

    And this post was a satire of that set. Where is the ‘pressure’?

    Undeveloped Hypothesis 1: many of the blog forms satirized above have historical antecedents in books/magazines/journals/newspapers. For instance, the ‘propaghandist’ post isn’t all that different in tone from some militant communist newspapers. The (bad) lit blogger might have roots in (bad) lit theory or deconstruction journal articles from the early 90s. The liberal is aspiring to a form that might be acceptable for mainstream liberal publication, and we see a lot of crossover, etc.

    [Does anyone have copies of, say, Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer from 1990?]

    Even the link blog serves the function of annotated bibliography…in a kind of mutant crossbreed with the morning water-cooler conversation, “Did you read the article about Afghanistan in the NYT? Damn, it’s pretty bad over there.”

    We’ll have to wait and see the evolution in form that takes place when the next generation comes of age, who have blogs themselves as their historical antecedent, and for whom the paper-only world is a distant past.

  25. Patrick Mullins Says:

    i believe in human creativity.

    I thought so. It’s a good character flaw to have, if you have to have one 🙂

    Look what I found back from even before you and I did time there. I hated having to go back in that filth, but I think that the old place is dropping off the radar so the owners can throw out their wife and two kids and go straight to the old heartbreakers for some under-the-radar action, or could have if the latter hadn’t managed to figure some new clients in pm’s that really DO live in London instead of just fucking Shanghai. I mean, just look at this shit:

    ‘Still, it might be worth re-thinking this reservation, since carriers are so integral to the functioning of hyperstition that anything inhibiting their production massively impedes hyperstitional propagation (throwing practitioners back into the sad slum of the “creative ego”). ‘

    Of course, I haven’t the slightest idea which ‘creative ego’ wrote this, all I know is that a clone of this one (surely it must be this one who was cloned) I rccently lifted text from, having found it impossible to be sued by a crack whore comment-blogger. While what she gets shoved back into is not IMO (ats) a ‘sad slum’, all the better if she THINKS it is. This kind of person does not realize that certain concepts like ‘jail’ apply to them whether or not they stayed out of their ‘creative ego’ until mercifully allowed back in by such an one as myself. Although I do agree that in this case the effect is quite as punitive as it is ‘beneficial’ for this B-list ‘saddo’, whoever she is, and that gives me intense pleasure.

    By the way, I copied a number of the ‘old cold fear posts’ from the archives, such as the one about the ‘joy of war as an end in itself’, and of, course, the inimitable one about giving the carriers ‘only scraps’, Naturally, the minute one of these runs into a blast-furnace libido like mine, they give me way more ‘scraps’ than anyone could ever with for. Isn’t it interesting? There really is a tendency to talk about depriving the ‘comfortable’ and/or ‘leisured’, and the minute they actually encounter them, most (not all, of course, you don’t, but then OF COURSE you’re not quite ‘ragged-trousered’ either, which doesn’t mean you’re spoiled, anything but–sorry, but that was necessary to make the point) simply lavish the non-needy with more and more luxuries. Which, of course, is what happened to me recently. I’m just glad I have a long history of DIVORCE (lol). But, frankly, the luxury became tedious. But that kind of idea of the ‘slum of the creative ego’, which I assume has to be a part of ‘human creativity’, not just aritificial ‘creation’ (they meld, of course, frequently, I recently had a Tantric Yoga experience I was most certainly not expecting), is often the line that mind-control types ues. And it should come as little surprise, that that sort of thing, which has been practised in all the pop mind-control programmes like EST and seientology, de-emphasize aesthetics, not in a Marxist anti-individual sense, but in a very specific OPPOSITION to individual creative and artistic work. These programmes I have seen destroy many artistic talents, like all cults. The unbelievable talents of Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta (lol, of course they’re all right, esp. Cruise’s personal trainer’s work in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. but I don’t know whether they go int eh top 500 Greatest) do not disprove this theory. And OF COURSE, the ones who INSIST on getting their ego recognized in these circuits are always treated even more specially, if only within them, than ‘special egoes’ are out in the big expanded world where even people like me and Arpege can be found having the gall to enjoy ‘old well-worn culturalisms’. And, you’ll of course note, that the not-named and by-now imprisoned ‘producer-writer’ who is worried about the slums, was no exception to this rule. He, of course, knows this, and so, at this point, Christian and I have decided to write on the back of the book, with the bios of myself, himself, and Jack, this 4th writer ‘is thought to be’ a ‘carrier from Shanghai’ who was last seen in Singapore or Birmigham.

  26. Patrick Mullins Says:

    Just to add, that I’ve copied a chunk of those old archives, in case you are ever interested and it does fall off. As if is, R. erased many of his old posts long ago, and many of the comments are no longer available. How extraordinary! Whatever anyone else on this thread or other blogs thinks of obama (health care or otherwise), THAT blog could not even survive in minimal form after McCain and Palin were relegated to the dustbin of history (at least he was. It’s difficult to do endless links-blogging to the Podhoretzes and William Kristols of the world when such as the latter are even getting fired from the NYTimes as not ‘au courant’; they let him guest-post like Zizek from time to time. )The hysterical reaction from the refusal of voters to support regimes in which we narrowly escaped successful voting-machine technology (I’m not sure of the specifics of this, of course, obviously attempts go on, just as attempts by hackers are unceasing), is fairly amusing as the neocons LINE UP to roll over. Naturally, then just doing a few neocon impersonations was easy enough for me to carry off to entertain someone, since I knew the very greatest danger was over (at least from my non-Marxist point of view.) I had been most unpopular when pointing out, in response to the famous obscure post ‘Sore Losers’ certain aspects of this, but you know, it really was the 2006 mid-term elections in which we found out that voting-machine fraud was not nearly as advanced as we thought (and before that victory, I had one of my rare agreements with warszawa, who thought as I did, that it was not possible by then to defeat Republicans in the U.S. anymore. I’m afraid that’s very important.) Tio wit, I even made specific requiests by email to non-creative egoes to restpre H., to no avail. We know, of course, what happened anyway (Jack says I ought to ‘feel flattered’, I said well yes, dear, you try it for 9 months, and then you’ll see how flattered you feel…), but the sense of TOTAL EMBARASSMENT could not stop the intense rigor mortis that set in, and you’ll note, it settled in immediately upon Obama’s election, with ME as victim of the online schizophrenias that you and I both seem to have a certain amount of reservation toward.

  27. traxus4420 Says:

    well, the creativity thing was a throwaway, but since yall bring it up i’ll treat it as a freudian slip — by human creativity i don’t mean individual, in the mythic ex nihilo sense. no one ‘creates’ without collaboration, which doesn’t mean living as an individualist prick who ignores everything except for Art can’t be beneficial in societies (like ours) which favor that sort of thing (and patrick, wouldn’t you agree that there are special cults for creative egos, i.e. scientology, and special cults for ‘the others,’ i.e. evangelism?).

    which is a roundabout way of saying no one could blog, well or poorly, without genres.

    the ‘pressure’ i referred to comes from desire for readership, one assumes one’s blog must resemble previous successes, readers learn to trust or at least accept that they’re supposed to trust a certain tone, etc….

    which, modernman, brings me to your great Undeveloped Hypothesis. after every innovation people seem to become curators. you and you, get thee to a museum archive, posthaste!

    i like the ‘link blog as water cooler convo…’ — the idiom is contemporary manners in microcosm — anything can come under discussion without risk of being held to an opinion or the pressure to develop a point beyond simple reference and performance of type (did you hear…oh, i know…). it’s a utopian space, habermas should write a booklet.

  28. Patrick J. Mullins Says:

    Oh yes, I’d definitely agree and some of them are quite creative indeed. I am currently in the position of not being able to resist some of that creativity, and this has forced a collaboration on me that I’ve tried like holy hell to fight off, but shit, what can I say–I’ve even called off the blackmail again; after all, I was relieved of a low-level kindergarten positiion (lol), and the barricading has made is so that I won’t get Karpal Tunnes Syndrome (sp?). When I give it some very SUBTLE thought, I even think that some of those Scientologists and ‘others’ are esthetic, and that sometimes even humans like me and you and Arpege can find sweetness and beauty with aliens like —- —-, who appear without invitation on your blog, and require a strange combination of rape-marriage. Well hey, it’s brought out the Marxist in me, and as we all know, there was no other way that I was going to quit being a threat to the blogosphere. In fact, I like it a whole hell of a lot better, that ‘working class hero’ thing, even though I have to do a lot of ex-Veep in this current setup. I swear this is the strangest thing I ever went through.

    That is ADORABLE that you would deign to call your ‘throwaway line’ as ‘Freuidian slip’, as we know my forced marriage wouldn’t even be working without y’alls’s Couples Counseling. Y’all all just trying to confuse Old Daddy Pat more, but I am STILL going to go to the opera with Arpege if she ever asks me. You would not even BELIEVE the fucked-up reading assignments I’ve been given. I have started refusing many of these.

    I think I saw in an old ‘post’ something about how you wanted your blog writing not to BE blog writing. But, you see, you do sometimes succeed in managing that. I really think that accounts for the periods in which you have not had huge readerships, although sometimes it gets hot around here, and people come round and really get going. Plus those long periods of not writing any posts, but still managing to get back to it is impressive–that is much like this book, which has been a work-in-progress for THREE years, that’s the kind of crziness that almost always falls apart, and yet with the collaboration of Desiree Disgusto, Christian got all titillated and immediately sent me a schedule for when he wanted copies of Jakc’s drawings (which I made today), almost-polished drafts of mine and ‘deairee disgusto’s texts, as her crack-whore installments are showed onto my ‘execrable piece of shit about opera and cookery’, talk about poetic justice…

    so that “the ‘pressure’ i referred to comes from desire for readership, one assumes one’s blog must resemble previous successes, readers learn to trust or at least accept that they’re supposed to trust a certain tone, etc…’

    I think, but don’t know that, in this case, you are going to have to go to some degree the more traditionally-structured route, and that you already are, I don’t know how much you see it that way. Because sure, you do want the readers, but you haven’t shown any ability to be able to betray that ‘certain tone’, Not that you might not try to from time to time, I know I sure have–not to mention not have anywhere near a decent number of readers of my books (Christian says we’ll be dead before anybody does, just like some old painters), but your talk of ‘not many readers’ in the past has never been the main voice you’ve listened to, or at least that’s my impression. What’s more, you’ve got a lot more sense than I do, after all, you weren’t overly impressed with —– —-, and just acted as if he were a fairly normal human being, instead of the alien he is. My child-man romanticism has made me recipient of WAY TOO MUCH of this alian, and I’m not even going to say anything all that nice about it at this point. I am TIRED of being called ‘Assbo’.

  29. Patrick Mullins Says:

    Just quickly to say that I think I’m finally free as of this morning, and do appreciate your letting me get debriefed properly. I’ll take something about the ‘tone of your blog’ very seriously–I mean, with you I definitely do not want to scare any of your readers away, so if I get too enthusiastic about a post, I’ll email you, although I think some of the HORROR is subsiding now. I congratulated The New Blog Couple on their so-called ‘marriage’, despite that fact that there’s no sex of even a virtual sort, and warned them that the ‘blackmailure’ of ’emailbombs’ was ready to launch if either of them dared to send me even ONE RUDE EMAIL (lol, I love it.) I don’t think they realized that I absolutely don’t want to write on that hideous blog anymore, and that they were both stupid enough to write me incriminating emails if they tried to force my hand.

    So you see, traxus, re: The above blog and the ‘creative ego’ that insinutated himself into the ‘Top Bastard’ role. You see, traxus, I really dont’ know how you’ve survived at your age that onslaught of all these internet freaks (of course they think I am one, but that’s a different kind of thing, it’s no different from what I’ve done plenty of in real life for many years), but you have–maybe your upbringing, maybe that you look at education more seriously in the traditional sense. Okay, that’s easier for me, so therefore we find that what I did was save such things as Lincoln Center and other metropolitan configurations from CCRU, which was trying to appropriate it, espeically after H. became defunct (in fact, the killing off of that blog was just a feint in the TOTAL WAR). Why, the secretary was even brought in to run interference after I proclaimed that Martha Graham would not be forgotten in favour of Lady Gaga, etc.

    That’s why I will force myself, after this, to write just some ‘Great post’s on your articles. Also, your posts are often exciting and clever, but are not meant to go straight to my appetites the way —- —-‘s always have been recently, so I should be able to act like a socially presentable person in record time. I would try to spread it around, but most of the other bloggers just aren’t good enough for me. So I am going to learn minimalism, because I owe it to you. In the meantime, I find it hilarious that, instead of appropriating Lincoln Center and Arpege’s season tickets to the Palais Garnier, CCRU has reposssesd that hideous and stupid blog, I have NO idea how I was in such a stupor for so long–so it was bound to end after a got a chunk out of real writing for publication from that weirdoh.

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