Friday, October 24, 2008


A week or two ago, when the blog reached its metaphorical halflife, I sent my professors an email asking for some feedback. I wanted to know how the blog was doing, whether my audience was sufficiently cultivated (do you feel cultivated? Are you growing strong and free? I'm pretty sure I've applied sufficient manure.), and, in a nutshell, what I should be writing about. The essential answer I got back was (only much, much nicer) "write about yourself, durr."
Which, I think, is pretty much what I was doing, and hence there haven't been any earth-shattering changes. But the real question, in my mind, is why I felt motivated to ask in the first place. Let's try some spitballing:
  • Uncertainty in the quality of my writing. Yeah, I thought we'd get this one out of the way quick-like. A lot of up and coming blog writers talk at length about how uninteresting their lives are, and they don't really have anything to blog about. Note that you don't see that here. I know this is colossally arrogant, but I happen to think I'm a pretty good writer. Anything I write would be interesting by virtue of the fact that I'm the one writing it. "Person of Consequence" is not a title I chose with an entirely ironic intent. So... if there's a problem there, it's not on the side of uncertainty.
  • Grade grubbing. This, sadly, may be more my style. Through high school, I was the top of my class academic-wise (which admittedly is not so difficult in a class of 25 kids, although I still faced some stiff competition. You know who you are.), and that's the sort of thing that can be very addictive, in terms of how you identify yourself. I think it definitely carried through to my undergraduate career--some of my motivation for doing a double major in mathematics and english sprung from the notion that while I may not be the best in either subject, no one could beat me in both. (Of course, there's also the joy in discovering the fundamental patterns that lie at the heart of both disciplines and the realization that even two disparate fields spring from the same source of human creativity and build the foundation of reasoning and insight. But we're accentuating the negative at the moment.) And a recent bad mark in my other graduate course suggests that I'm still feeling a connection between grades and self-esteem. On the other hand, this isn't entirely a bad thing; at its core, even my gormless grade grubbing (Off topic: apparently, according to wikipedia, gorm is a substance constructed from a mix of partially dried glue, milk, and food-colouring. So I'm not sure why being gormless is a big deal.) comes from a desire to excel.
  • Working without a net. Digital media and the autobiography are both pretty new fields to me, and I can't say I'm 100% comfortable with either of them. So when you lump them together and try to make a blog out of it, the uncomfortability increases exponentially. And since this is a class project as much as it's a blog (or is it? Is it 60% a class project, 40% a blog? 70/30? 90/10?) it makes some of the questions that much more uncomfortable. For example, the only audience I can really guarantee for this blog is my two professors, and I certainly have never addressed them directly, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that none or few of my fellow students have done the same.
(I'll fix that one right now: Hello professors. How are you? I am fine. I'm sorry my cellphone went off in class that time. And I'm more sorry that it happened again two seconds later because I didn't actually know how to turn off my phone at the time. One day we will look back on it and laugh. Ha ha. The weather's been rather bad recently, hasn't it? That's unfortunate, but what can you do? See you in class next week. Yours, Person of Consequence.)

So I guess what I was looking for was a guiding principle, some reinforcement that I was going in the right direction. But the real problem is that I keep assuming there's "a" right direction to begin with. Yes, there's a goal in the end, but there's more than one way there, and the best way to press onward isn't to go looking for the pat on the head, but to make that jump, net or no net. So I guess it's kind of like life.
(Very special music plays in the background to ensure everyone realizes that Person of Consequence has learned an Important Lesson. He bows, and the stage curtain closes slowly. The applause light flickers on.)

Later Days.


cait said...

It occurs to me the flaw in most scholarly undertakings of this sort is the fundamental self-consciousness inherent in starting a personal blog for a class. I mean, if you were blogging about a project of some description, there would most definitely be a "right" direction to go in, but for a project so open-ended, there's bound to be a self-awareness that defeats the ultimate purpose of the blog. The essence of the blog preceded its existence. Says I. My blog was started 4 years ago, really (I'm ashamed to say) because I had a crush on a boy who blogged and was really gung ho about the whole blogging revolution. But with such a transient purpose, it was able to morph into whatever it was going to be without me thinking about it too much. In the past year or two, I've become much more self-conscious about the whole thing for a variety of reasons and that sort of killed it. I used to post two or three times a day. Now I'm down to two or three times a month.

Person of Consequence said...

You're right that there's definitely a huge element of the self-conscious inherent here. From the beginning, the class was promoted as a joint autobiography-digital media study,and the former area tends towards overly self-consciousness (the latter does as well, although not as much.)
I'm not sure I'd go as far as to call it a flaw, though. As a certain professor of our joint acquaintance is fond of saying, reality TV isn't good at depicting how people act in reality, but it's great at depicting how people act on reality TV. I think there's some of the same here: yes, it's a very calculated performance, but there's still a show going on.
Although being self-conscious does sort of kill the desire for self-expression, doesn't it? Either that, or makes it really, really boring.
Oh, and don't be embarrassed about taking up blogging for a boy. Some day, (once the project portion is over and I get over the fact my parents read this) I intend to go over a list of all the life-changing things I did to impress various girls.
Spoiler: few were impressed.