I really identified with lil’rumpus’ description of her “blog block”. She describes nicely some of the anxieties involved in this game, especially for one who is new at it.
What I am finding is that I worry about what to make of the blog. So far I have mostly stuck to more focused, topical posts, because I feel that blogging about the ins and outs of my daily life would be boring – I don’t have the wit to pull that off the way some people so successfully do. So I have been writing relatively ponderously. When I write something off-the-cuff, I am afraid that off-the-cuffness lends the writing a somehow “wrong” quality…that misunderstandings can ensue. The big, classic fear about hastily constructed, electronically transmitted prose somehow misrepresenting who we ‘really’ are. (This reminds me a bit of Flavia's post detailing her anxious dream about being confronted by other bloggers' misconceptions of her.) And then I worry, like about whether I seemed an arrogant, selfish ass in the other day’s post about my ridiculously premature career hysteria, and the award I won. And that’s bad.
Immediately after posting, I had to fight with myself not to delete my off-the-cuffness with this one. Because the fact is, I am self-contradictory, as are we all. I may have been lamenting academic opportunism lately, but I must admit that I was happy to win an award that a) recognizes and fits my dissertation into a larger, communal context, and b) may boost my chances of getting a tenure-track job. The jury’s out on whether all those concerns contradict each other.
I shouldn’t worry so much, though, about how this appears in print on this site. For if I spend my posting time trying to construct a perfectly coherent, pristine persona, what’s the point of this forum? That sure isn’t me, that slice of coherent purity. If I do this, as it seems many do, in part for quasi-therapeutic reasons, then putting out a pretty “me”, one who couldn’t give a fig about jobs or recognition, seems entirely self-defeating.
A couple of other random things:
...I just read Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel/memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Oh my. What an astonishing piece of writing. I’ve admired the cleverness of Bechdel’s comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out for, but I’ve never been a huge fan. This memoir, which traces her relationship to her closeted gay father, is simply beautiful. And witty and learned and troubling and all that good stuff. Best of all, she perfectly and unapologetically renders the complexity and contradictions of people (per above) and their relationships to each other, their loves and hatreds. It is such a frank opening of the self, it more honestly admits vulnerability and longing than almost anything I’ve read. Such a treasure.
...I have been out of the teaching loop for the last six weeks. But last night I watched some young women breakdancing – it was part of an eclectic outdoor dance performance thingy – and was reminded of one of the things that I love most about teaching. These five women’s energy and talent and fierceness drew me back to the way all those qualities play themselves out in some students…I love being around that energy in young people, which is so often manifest as a hunger to make change. I remember it in myself, and feel the ways some of it is lost in me, and being around it in my job is a privilege. Watching these young women’s performance was a lovely mid-summer bit of excitement about what September is going to bring, when I move over to this new university, which has a surfeit of this kind of energy. I can’t wait.