Blogs, Papers. More Words (or ‘oh god, when will he stop?’)

Some further thoughts.

1) Does the argument of the broadsheet lit types just come down to but we’re special? But you’re not. Did nobody tell you?

2) I can’t say how important this idea of trust networks and democratic criticism is. We build little reading communities: I don’t much mind if you belong to one that idolises Sophie Kinsella, say; not my bag, and I might make the odd joke, but there’s room for us all (at least until the IP addresses run out).

3) I forgot to use a favourite analogy: literary blogs as an extension of talking about books and literary life down the pub with friends (Yes, I deliberately did name this site after a pub). This is where you habitually hear the name pronounced ‘McCrummy’; blogs can just make that more accessible, ie not confined to London and its fenland & Thames Valley suburbs. (Bit ambivalent about this, though. I don’t like the idea of a gossiping about the estab, because this validates them, it descends to prurience and ugliness quickly, and the motivations become murky; however, mocking the self-important and cosily entrenched matters; lies and stupidity should be fingered; and in the case of the literary world, removing the last vestiges of ‘specialness’ and ‘authority’ from the papers is worthwhile)

4) I actually hate this kind of post, saying what blogs are/do, rather than doing it. Still, once in a while.

5) History of criticism. Looked at one way, many of the best voices in criticism – review, theory or essay – come out of places like the stoa/agora, coffee house culture, competitive tutorial-driven environments (ie everyone trained for an hour of cultural combat each week, lot of sparring on own time, etc). Might something good come out of a giant-sized, ethereal version of same?

6) Editorial process is good. I don’t think I stated that clearly enough. Text going through the edit-and-sub grinder will come out as a cleaner, easier read. However, this is only true if the editors are good; and it can equally make prose duller or cheaper. This process is the single greatest advantage of book criticism in print, rather than some special magical dust-of-taste which the editor sprinkles over the page before it’s printed. Again: not special!

7) Criticism will persist; we’re better off asking how it’s going to change. The style questions are interesting: This strongly implies that style needs to change for the web. I expect scanning on these pages – I sometimes hope to make not-stupid points, but I’ll usually be swearing, throwing in caps, going for short pars & periods, making jokes, inserting pictures: basically, employing a set of rhetorical strategies adapted for a website rather than print. Or ‘gimmicks’ as you might call them (next week – the blink tag comeback). Anyway, I guess portable readers/better screens would take us back to a point where a more classical style might be again fit; but for the moment I’m interested in seeing how/if long-form criticism adapts to the skimmy world of the web.

Maybe I’ll lay off this topic for a little. I’ll edit it into this post if I think of anything else, spare the Bell becoming a monoblog.