Taking a Break From Political Commentary

At least here, anyway. I’ll still continue to shamelessly plug my posts at NYU Local, and you might see some of my commentary pop up in a couple of other venues in the future. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the last post I wrote, and how I want to get away from that sort of thing; pointing out hypocrisy on the mainstream right is way to easy, where the roster of good-faith debaters is getting insanely thin. It’s not that I don’t think arguing with them is valuable, it’s just that it’s really only valuable if you’re doing it in the public eye in order to persuade large swaths of people.

Let’s face it, I am not Rachel Maddow. This blog barely commands any audience at all, and if I’m writing for what I think people want to read, all I’m really doing is tossing out red meat to a small handful of people who are, for the most part, already pretty plugged in. I feel like what I should be doing instead is thinking about how this blog can benefit me–how what I write here can make my writing elsewhere better.

Besides, I’m tired of just being mad. Sure, blogging is a great venue to vent in, but I feel like if I’m going to grow as a writer I need to focus more on building good ideas than tearing down bad ones. And while I’ve written some of my best work while super pissed, it only works out at all when it’s a very controlled kind of anger. The posts I write when I’m just intemperate look, with the benefit of hindsight, frequently right on the merits without the additional advantages of contributing anything new or not being sort of obnoxious.

So that brings us back to what I should be doing instead. Right now I’m reading Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself for review at my place of work. The book’s basically one long interview with David Foster Wallace, and in one of the earlier portions he talks about how the nonlinear structure of Infinite Jest is intended to mirror the chaotic way in which we’re inundated with information in the modern era. Keep in mind that this interview was conducted in 1996; the phenomena he notes has gotten far more extreme since then.

So writing was, among other things, DFW’s way of sort of imposing order on this massive flood of information. I think there’s a lot to that; it certainly explains why recently I’ve found myself adopting (some might say to terrible excess) his footnote/parenthetical habit. But I also think it’s a worthwhile endeavor, on a day-to-day basis, for this blog. Maybe instead of just saying to myself, “This is going to be a blog about politics,” or “This is going to be a blog about political philosophy,” or “This is going to be a blog about pictures of mopey-looking hipsters juxtaposed with funny captions,” I should just think of this as my place to pick out the most worthwhile of the 500+ discrete pieces of information I receive per day, expand on some of them, and then see if any of them are worth further expansion or interact with the others in interesting ways.

With that in mind, the only two strict rules about content on here are going to be:

1.) Keep my personal life as separate as possible.

2.) Say something novel and interesting. Don’t just crap on other people’s ideas, even when they’re asking for it.

We’ll see how that goes.

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