Monday, January 22, 2007
In less haste than I thought. Iain Dale draws out attention to this. It is the sad farewell of the blogger Cassilis. It's a very painful and intense read for all sorts of reasons, some intended by the author, some not. But I won't attempt psychoanalysis, I shall just look at his thoughts on blogging. His central point is that blogging is a closed circle - 'most of us read blogs to see if anyone has read our blogs' - and not the limitless open space promised by the prophets of citizens' journalism. He adds: 'It's all about traffic no matter what anyone tells you.' Well, Cassilis is more right than the prophets, but I don't think he's quite right. The, as far as I know, unnoticed oddity about blogging is that the blogger is both performer and audience. When I write for The Sunday Times or produce a book, I know I am performing from a privileged position. That privilege vanishes when I blog, not just because there are a lot of other bloggers, but, more importantly, because I blog as an outsider, observing things the way readers of The Sunday Times do. It may all be about traffic, as Cassilis says, but, in a less depressing sense, everything is about traffic - not mere popularity but contact, belonging, acknowledgment. Cassilis aspires to be a political writer and thought that blogging was the way. His mistake, perhaps, was that he allowed the circularity to get the better of him. He shouldn't have read so many blogs, he should have read other things and then blogged. But he should ditch the politics - a bad subject for real writing these days - and keep at it. His prose has a peculiar intensity, which is why I felt impelled to write this when I should have been rushing out of the house.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:40 am