All proclamations of ‘the death of the blog’ have been premature.
If blogging went through a ten year period in which its success was more cultural than monetary, what followed was a sort of impulsive battle with the wind. Blogging acts for most writers as a kind of perpetual itch, or even, a perpetual scratch which only increases the itchiness.
Ultimately, it is a means of being both in and of the world (and if the blogger also happens to be a writer as such, it means the delay of some other form). Blogging is ultimately a form of stalling – not only in regards to the work it prevents, but in regards to the work of the world it prevents from breathing and releasing itself from our attentions.
When blogging was still a form of online diary, it was perhaps a more innocent endeavor. One could accrue ample traffic simply by implementing a candid tone. The age of SEO targetted copy turned all those who acted simultaneously as consumers and content creators into bizarre exhibitionists of social capital.
We all knew what one another were doing but chose to consume it in such a way that we didn’t. The result could be seen as a microcosm of capitalism. For the remaining duration of this piece, I will not be using the word ‘capitalism’ or speaking Marxian anymore (it is not my desire to impair or disable my reader’s sex drive), save to say that it is easy, in this situation, to remain in a constant loop of anxiety in which one must always sell oneself more than one consumes.
We let the hypnotic language trickle through our brains, skim past those arbitrary intros before we get to the meat, only to be found just after the first bold section title. We go searching for a voice that can entertain our hope that there is a definite path someone has already blazed for us. We could have written it ourselves but it is part of the game that we need to see ourselves in someone else: The western predicament projected onto a humanity which never asked for its gifts but has no other competitor.
95% of your basic-bitch type of blog posts, that is, precisely the ones which are modeled for ‘success,’ are assigned an assertion as a title, for which very few pains are taken to prove or back them up. And why should anyone back them up? These are, ultimately, opinion pieces.
But these are opinions which are being sold, and not only are they being sold, but it seems that they’re being sold for reasons other than any of their apparent or conditional value. They might not be purchased with literal money, but we do pay dearly for accepting their model as the norm to be emulated.
How do we pay? Time? Sure, but no one has time anyway.
We ultimately pay by giving ourselves more garbage to wade through. If you have a hipster temperament (or if you just care more than a little about quality control) this isn’t a bad thing. You like that there are gems that you and a few select people have discovered and can bond over.
In fact, it’s probably not so bad at the end of the day that there are so many clone blogs and that so much corporate formula is used: it augments the vitality of that which is truly different and original.
What are we getting at here, ultimately? An endorsement of cheap, hipster elitism? Yes. Well, in part.
What we’re actually getting at is something underneath hipster elitism to which the latter is a luciferian perversion of the true former.
We have seen in the past 15 years just how a blog can create an entire culture. Scott Alexander and Mencius Moldbug come to mind. In both cases, you have bloggers who were essentially writing something quite different from either SEO-laden influencer-speak or dear-diary diatribes. They were essentially writing living, breathing books in real time, and which didn’t seem to have any projected end. In other words, they were a microcosm, not of the c-word, but of the creative power of culture which has become self aware.
I’m waiting for anti-bloggers to appear. Not ‘anti-bloggers’ in the sense that they are literally against blogging, but rather, in the manner that some people refer to Ulysses as an ‘anti-novel,’ that is, it is a novel which insists on its whims without being polite to tradition. Bloggers, at their most innovative, break the internet and break people’s brains.
I can only wait for such bloggers, as I said. I cannot announce their arrival – such belongs to the talent of the prophet or the writer of manifestos (two talents I do not possess).
The blog is the great distraction which becomes the magnum opus (potentially). It is also something to excavate and an excuse to rob oneself of material which could prove better if enriched by a different package.
What of the bloggers whose archiving is non-intuitive (technically) or nonexistent? One comes to them always viewing the newest and latest. One scrolls down, not to read, but in search of something timeless amidst husks of quick reactions to current day troubles. The past seems naïve until we find that voice which seems as though it entered the past from the future. To what degree do bloggers look for this voice in their own work when searching for material to repurpose for a book or some other project?
I suspect most bloggers attempt this.
In itself, not repurposed for anything else, a blog can be an unending sheet written into the cosmos.
The internet makes soft that which was hard. A mediocre blog post is accepted and skippable. This isn’t true of magazines, which can be thrown across the room. People can only skip through a magazine for so long. In this sense, the blog is a terrific experimental form. This is why I suspect that it will not die a quiet death.