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  Wednesday, December 15, 2004

  Writing: three words

From What we write and why by Michael Benton, Alan Clinton, Davin Heckman, Subhash Jaireth, Marc Ouellette, and Matthew Wolf-Meyer


<4> There are three words that can be invoked to illuminate the urge that compels me to write. The first word is respons(e)/ibility. It seems that I, like many others who write, situate myself within Socratic tradition according to which our place is also in the Agora and the bazaar, the places from and in which we can participate in the "great" symposium of humanity. By doing this we become the constituents and the constitutors of the public sphere, one of the important features of which -- that which sustains it as public sphere, to borrow Habermas's words -- is democratic and social communication. One of the essential conditions to maintain such communication is to feel responsible to respond, hence the word respons(e)/ibility. I feel responsible to respond to utterances, speaking(s), writing(s) and acting(s) by other participants. The need of a meaningful communication asks from me, to paraphrase one of Bakhtin's central themes, not only to listen and read but also to speak and write. By adding my voice to the cacophony of voices I try to unsettle the power/knowledge relations that operate within [dominate] the public sphere.


<7> The second word is translation, understood both as "rendering" and "movement." Each time I write, I find myself translating (rendering, moving to and fro) some one else's ideas, concepts, thoughts, and images (the already written, read and seen) into my ideas and images. To a large extent this is because I am confronted with the given-ness of verbal and non-verbal languages. I continually move between langue and parole, between the oral and the written, and vice versa. I continually traverse the routes from the visible (the seen and the shown) to the verbal and vice versa. As if, to use de Certeau's image, I walk and talk at the same time, as if talking/writing would always take me to other places. But writing as translation also tells me that each event of translation is associated with a certain degree of refraction. Like rays of light, ideas, images and thoughts bend, get refracted, change their trajectory. It is, as if, however careful one may not be when one pours water from one jar to another some of it is always spilt.


<12> The third word is reflexive. Metaphorically it means to be able to carry a mirror that would make the bearer aware of the world behind him/her, the cultural and cognitive topography of one's location, which on the one hand helps one to say what she/he want to say but simultaneously limits what can be said. It also means that one is always interrogating his/her own project. This interrogation of what one has written and is in the process of writing doesn't have to be outside the writing. The writing, the text, has to make the reader conscious of this reflexive, the sideways, glance by foregrounding it. Preference, then, should be for writing that reflects the anxiety, the tension and the unsettledness of writing.

From editorial of Winter 2003 issue of Reconstruction (which also calls for papers on blogging). 

More on: blog research writing 

  What if...

What if I wouldn't have to work on all the things I have to work and would have as much time for blogging as I like?

What if I could follow those interesting links, read all unread stuff in bloglines, comment to all interesting posts, write myself, write on all topics that come as "would be nice to blog", write pieces that would connect bits and pieces from other weblogs and have time to craft writing?

Would it change anything?

Probably not. I'll always have more to read and more to write about than time to do it. Don't know a better exercise for learning to "let go" than blogging...

Richard MacManus on something related:

I wonder if weblogs are making our reading and writing habits temporal and 'always unfinished' (to twist the term 'always on')? Having written an article for Digital Web Magazine (and I must get around to writing another one), I can confirm it takes at least a couple of weeks to 'craft'. Whereas with my weblog, although generally I write carefully crafted long-form posts, it's still of-the-moment and a lot of times it's an ongoing theme I'm exploring (ie it's not "finished").

I would probably write more "finished" articles for my blog if I didn't feel so much (social?) pressure to continually update my RSS feed. As it is, I only write an average of 3 posts per/week anyway, but still...

And same goes for my reading. To participate in the blogosphere you have to keep up-to-date with the RSS feeds in your circle of influence. Which leaves less time for reading "professional" and finished articles.

Although often I escape into blogging when I don't feel like working on a larger, "finished" pieces, I guess I really need those pressures to produce something finished to take an extra effort for synthesising "always unfinished" into something "finished".

Back to finishing something bigger :)

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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