Monday, October 31, 2005

100th post: hasty reflections on bloglife

Your site is interesting though. Utterly incomprehensible, and a schizophrenic mishmash of racism, pathological hatred of just about everything and half-digested opinions from a contradictory range of ideologies and sources. You call yourself progressive yet hate communism and almost everything left-wing, as well as anything right-wing. You call me racist yet piss on the grave of Rosa Parks.

At nearly 100, I seem to have attracted fans.*

I have come to love the mad terra incognita of the blogosphere. You can get anything you want, and plenty you don't. It's the Mirkwood of media, the Emerald City of bizarre worldviews, the El Dorado of freakish unedited opining. How fitting that I write this on Halloween, the eve of Samhain. The little ghouls and ghostlings at the door are evenly matched, I'd say, by many who haunt the eerie pseudo-space of bloggerdom. Believe me. I've met a whack of 'em. They like me, too. They rise from the La Brea tarpits and seek me out.

Somehow, though, this occasion calls for more than a ritual flick of contempt for the empathetically challenged denizens of the Right. I shall try, this once, for a wider, more inclusive view. Indeed, all sides of the political multi-spectrum flicker and coruscate here. The blogosphere is a universe of elementary particles, bloginos, right and left and top and bottom quarks, mesons, morons, bosons, you name it. They leave fascinating trails in our mental cloud chambers.

But there are no neutrons there.

The blogosphere is, let's face it, a Fight Club for geeks. Every activist has its equal and opposite reactivist, but no blood is drawn. This is where I work out when I'm bored with writing for a living, or studying anthropology. Actually, I guess this is a very good place to study anthropology, come to think of it. And a place for intelligent debate, although you have to go looking for it. Here are foemen (and women) worthy of anyone's steel, and then...there are...others.

This is, however, no mistake, a quantum leap from Usenet, that seething mass of undifferentiated squeaking and howling, although the latter seeps into the comments section of most blogs from time to time. There is a discipline here, if its contours are a little blurry. Those who put up sites have passed through a filter, even if it's torn in places. And those who comment probably know that the site-owners can do what we want with their offerings, and indeed (in a virtual sense) with them. Drunk with power, we are, and with words--those of us who actually write, of course, rather than post links and excerpts.

As I have said probably too many times, the blogosphere is rarely a source of hard news. It's at best a series of editorials, analyses, and odd juxtapositions that can, on rare occasions, reveal something fresh and new, even startling. But writing's the thing. There's good, bad, and downright ugly, and all of it's worth celebrating. And, best of all, we’re our own editors. Or is that "worst of all?"

I'll close on that note, with a little story. I've written my share of articles and op-ed pieces, but these days can barely crank out, no pun intended, the odd (Freud, go back to sleep!) letter to the editor. Recently I heard that the Dalai Lama was going to address a group of neuroscientists in the US on the subject of neuroplasticity, which, in this case, refers to the effects of meditation on the physical structure of the brain. Some people with dubious political motives (and let me note that I'm not sure where I stand on the Tibet question) circulated a petition, pooh-poohing the research on which his talk is to be based, but note the Han names in evidence. That irked me, and I wrote to the Ottawa Citizen, citing the article in a refereed journal, and suggesting that it was based upon sound science.

The editor called me, and spoke with me for nearly an hour. We went over the basic text of the letter, cleared up a misconception or two, whittled away at the text for a while...and he ran it. I wish he hadn't. The header contained the word "Medidation" [sic]. The title of the scientific article that I had cited was printed as though it was my own last sentence. The thing was an abomination after he got through with it. Tattered and torn to rat-shit. And it had my name on it.

I don't have to go through any of that nonsense here, although I do argue with myself a lot. And, by the way, I'm not all that anonymous. Even Dick Evans and the Anonalogue entity figured it out, so it doesn't take intelligence. I like my nom-de-plume, though, and I'm going to stick with it for now. We'll see where we are at post 200.

In the meantime, left-wing, right-wing, upwing or downwing, keep those posts coming. Trick or treat, shit or shinola, it's all rock and roll to me. Did I say I liked it here?


* This one is a self-loathing, mentally colonized Native person who has adopted the name of the villain in Crime and Punishment. Go fetch! Life is a scavenger hunt.

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