Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why Clutter the Blogosphere with Yet Another Moo?

When it comes to recently deceased comedians I am far more of a Mitch Hedberg guy than a George Carlin guy. Mitch oozed genius while Carlin gave off more of an aura of method, personal intensity and blue collar work ethic. But there is no doubt in my mind that my approach to the creative act is much closer to the workman like Carlin than the genius Hedberg so I read this interview with great interest, as Carlin described his process in detail shortly before his death. I found the basic outline of his process reminded me of two writers I deeply respect: Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Edwards (the one that wore the wigs not the expensive haircuts). It goes something like this:

1. Never allow a thought or observation to go unrecorded. Carlin used post it notes. Edwards famously filled many many notebooks when notebooks weren’t cheap. Pascal, more like the former than the latter in this case, opted for tiny scraps of paper.
2. Have a good system in which you revisit these observations and group them, turning multiple insights into narrative fragments. Carlin used a Mac. Edwards, again, with the notebooks. And Pascal famously, and more idiosyncratically, used needle and thread to group his little scraps of paper.
3. Weave these pericopes into a cohesive piece of work.

(Note: If it seems like a stretch to compare a contemporary comedian that I don’t even think was that good with one of the greatest theologians and one of the greatest scientist/poets that ever lived, well, it is. But I have recently taken Mark Driscoll’s advice to study comedic method as homiletics training since they are the only ones in our culture that do anything remotely like what a preacher does.)

I love blog culture. No fewer than 15 of my friends blog regularly and I really enjoy their updates and reflections. But until recently I have thought anything I might add to the blogosphere would certainly be redundant. To steal a line from my brother (something you will become accustomed to if you end up reading regularly) from many years ago, ‘just another moo’ in the cacophony of the herd. And most of these friends that write serious philosophical blogs are disappointed at how infrequently they get read. Here are three reasons I changed my mind:

1. I have recently realized that most serious bloggers use the pressure of their (often scant) readership to motivate them to make step 2 (above) happen with more regularity. So that even if they are infrequently read, blogging makes their other writing and speaking significantly better.
2. I am much better at step 2 than step 3 above. I live and die at the level of fragment. As a multidisciplinary generalist and intellectual eclectic, my primary contribution to any conversation is connection between seemingly disparate observations. The chance to get feedback, by way of comments, on level 2 content (and maybe level 1 if I ever produce a Bill Simmons ‘Rambling’ or a Nietzsche ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ type entry) is just too valuable to pass up.
3. I didn’t want to be left out.

Plus, I’ll be preaching regularly this coming year and wanted to be able to say, ‘for more, check out my blog.’ So there it is. I am going to try to post ~once/week, supplementing down weeks with essays and poems from ‘the file’. I’d also point you to my Amazon Reviews (link in upper right). Until now they have been my primary presence on the web and I intend to keep them up. Thanks for reading.

By way of preview, here are some things I am working on:

Linkin Park: Our Generation’s Dostoyevsky
Enough with Paul: De-centering Acts for the Church’s Role Players
Stewart Yes, Colbert NOOOOoo: Deconstruction vs Irony
What the Church can learn from the Hollywood Writer’s Strike
Why I Like Obama and McCain and am Not Confused
Social Components of Plausibility Structures
An ‘Epic’ Limerick about a Viking and a Visigoth

cow photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitbywoof/782600579/


JMBower said...

If even I can maintain a blog here, then that speaks to the certainty I have that yours will be an improvement rather than detriment to the blogosphere. Lets be honest, even if I wasn't certain that yours will be worth reading on a regular basis (I've already bookmarked it) it would not take much to meet and exceed the general level of discourse among blogs.:)

I say, "Cry Moo! and let the (cow) chips fall where they may."

You with us said...

This post made me glad, yet again, that we won't be naming our child Angus.

Stanford Gibson has a blog! I don't if Tyler told you but I read all of "Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Poorly" and you've got 10 years, that's it Buddy, before "Trash Patch" hits the shelves. The reading public will not wait any longer.

That being said, your blog will keep the masses quiet(er) while we wait.

Plus, this will be a nice change from many of the mommy blogs my friends and I read.

BlackEyedSusan said...

Welcome to the Sphere, Stan! So excited. You're on my toolbar, so make it good. :)


dreamer said...

Again, excellent! Very thought provoking and insightful. I want to read what you are working on about Stewart/Colbert (I personally enjoy Colbert more) and the one about Obama/McCain (because I AM confused).