1. Whatever one thinks of Andrew Sullivan, he has a video presentation of what it means to be a blogger over at Big Think, and I must admit that if anyone is a blogger it is Mr. Sullivan. In this video he says that to be a blogger one must post at least twice a day, even if one is writing about one’s own garden. He says that the wonder of blogging is that the writer can cut out the middle-man of editors at magazines and book publishers, and go straight to the reader. This is no doubt a great thing, but at least twice a day? I have spent some 40 some years of my life trying to figure out anything of importance to say, and now I must comment on events and ideas at least twice a day in order to be a blogger? I prefer the long form blog, as the late blogger Kalev Pehme tried to present it on what he called his “anti-blog.” Like Mr. Pehme most of my posts on this page go to two pages at least. I have a hard time writing unless I think I have something to say. No doubt by Sullivan’s standards I am not a blogger, let alone the late Mr. Pehme.
2. Speaking of moving beyond the mere ephemera of twice a day, we are all appreciative of Carl’s blogging which takes as its topic the ephemera of rock. Carl’s excellent posts on music and rock and roll and rock demonstrate a deep background knowledge of what he is talking about. His posts, no doubt with editing and further unpacking, could be compiled as a book. Carl has made me rethink some of my own thoughts about rock—which boiled down to some unthought attitudes I held about rock. I became disgusted by my own acceptance of general rock attitudes, and I came to hate rock, hipsterdom, rock intellectualizing, and the whole narrative of rock music whether, for example, it was Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, The Who, David Bowie, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Feelies, Yo La Tengo or the Pixies (etc.). I always knew that the forms of rock had exhausted themselves by the 1990s. Until I read Carl’s posts I had never quite seen how “middle-classness” and Tocqueville could offer insights into this exhaustion—posts that simultaneously provided clarity of insight, recovery of what is still good in this music, and a socio-political analysis of (post) modern conditions of democracy that points toward a credible explanation of what and why this music is so compelling, ridiculous, and worthy of mixed emotions (like love and contempt) in the first place. Could Mr. Sullivan do this twice a day?
3. Pete’s astute commentary on the politics of the race for the Republican nomination provides more than mere daily updates. Here we have someone obviously versed in the day-to-day and rough and tumble, but also a person who is concerned with what he calls the “persuadables.” I used to call them “independent” voters, but that was mere cynicism speaking. Pete truly understands the best of politics without being the least bit naïve. He recognizes that a well formulated partisan position for the good is much better than mere showmanship. My own doubts about Perry’s “Texanness” had more to do with unspoken cultural codes. Pete forced me to rethink the issue, in that there had to be substantive policy (and perhaps principled reasons) to be against the man other than questions of electability. Unfortunately, when you start to think about what you really believe, the current Republican candidates seem to be lacking. Of course, I could be proved wrong, and hope to be so proved.
4. Jason gives us an opportunity to comment on Irving Kristol and the TV show Mad Men. Both topics are worthy of consideration. Mad Men is not only popular, but it offers a particular spin on 1960s America that I am uncertain about. Jason’s distinction between “professional and private” life is important. But in this show why is it the choice for the 1960s, and why is it advertising? Of course, these questions have easy answers for the typically cynical television critic, but then when you juxtapose the conceit of the story with Jason’s questions they become more complicated. You can’t simply rely on the academic trope that 1960s was a period of revolutionary social and cultural change. The issues confronting these characters can’t be merely “historical” because this show remains popular.
5. Of course, Peter’s contributions are always great—including his links to Big Think. Peter deals with the some of the most important and pressing issues today, and it is amusing to read the responses to his other blog. I’m not sure the respondants know what to make of him, but they are definitely challenged to thought. Most say that Peter is not a “real” conservative because he on occasion criticizes libertarianism. Peter’s interest in issues of biotechnology and bioethics, and his Tocquevillian and Percyan perspective (which is truly his own beyond this simple caricature) is too much for those who claim that they hate “conservatism.”
So perhaps Mr. Sullivan is right that one can blog about one’s own garden. This blog is good because it adheres to no demanding 24/7 keeping up with the times while still being able to speak of the times. Nonetheless, it allows me to stay in my garden if need be.
And besides, who is cultivating whom’s garden?
If I do not blog twice a day, it is only because I had nothing to say twice that day.