Sunday, June 22, 2003

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While I was away....

Not blogging for a couple of days generated two wildly contradictory impulses. The first was the rather pleasant sense of leisure. Not having to have an opinion on anything or everything was a nice respite. As Michael Kinsley recently observed, competition in the the opinion industry has accelerated its pace:

There may be a few ancient pundits such as George Will who still follow the traditional guild practices: days in the library making notes on 3-by-5 cards, half a dozen lunches at the club with key sources, an hour spent alone in silence with a martini and one's thoughts and only then does a perfectly modulated opinion take its lovely shape. Most of us have no time for that anymore. It's a quick surf around the Net, a flip of the coin, and out pops an opinion, ready-to-go except perhaps for a bit of extra last-minute coarsening.

Mark Jordan, in a lovely piece of writing, conveys the problem an academic sometimes faces in trying to join the opinion mafia:

There is a choice to be made between scholarship and media success. Scratch the overtaxed word "scholarship." The choice is between the kinds of thinking or writing possible in a university and the kinds permitted by the media. My ways are still not their ways. I have -- or am supposed to have -- that rarest privilege, leisure. Leisure lets me construct meanings in time, over time. What I think I know... takes time to lay out -- not because it is a long series of facts, but because it can only be seen after a long series of missteps and reversals, through grudging discoveries and skeptical assents. My conclusions can't have their meaning without the "hard," the frustrating approach to them. That approach can't be fit into news. No leisure is permitted in our news -- precisely because they are "leisure" media.

At the same time, I missed blogging -- it's just so much fun. Worse, I felt a pang of responsibility from not blogging. I got a fair amount of e-mail asking for posts, and as a good Jew I respond to guilt exceptionally well.

I'm optimistic enough to think that it is possible to engage in both quality scholarship and pithy opinion-making. So the blogging will continue, regardless of how much Blogger tries to thwart me.

UPDATE: Alas, Brink Lindsey appears close to blogging retirement for a reason I didn't mention above but certainly empathize with:

Let me make this clear: blogging has been a real kick. Writing about whatever I want, whenever I want, at whatever length I want, sending it out into the world immediately, and getting great feedback almost immediately after that. What's not to like?

The problem is that I don't have the time to do the blog as I'd like to do it -- while doing everything else I need and want to do with my time. I have all these ideas for things to post about, but I only get around to a tiny fraction of them. Which I find frustrating. Consequently, I've gone cold on the whole enterprise.

posted by Dan on 06.22.03 at 01:32 PM