Tap tap. This thing on?
(clears throat) Hi there. It’s good to be back. Do I even remember how to do this?
Well the move from Blogspot to Typepad has been fraught with technical difficulty, but I believe I’m getting the kinks ironed out. And so it is appropriate, in my first real blog post on my new blog, to refer you to something longer and more thought out than the average blog post: the latest edition of the journal Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, which I co-edited. The theme of the issue, of course, is Theories/Practices of Blogging, and I’ve written a nifty intro which has actually been referred to by civilians (read: non-academics) as a "good read." Now that’s something one doesn’t hear very often about one’s academic work.
I have to admit, this merging of my academic and online personae makes me more than a little nervous. The fact that my real name and my blog are now inextricably linked and cached on Google for students, colleagues, and hiring committees to find for years to come gives me real pause. So if it seems like I’m not blogging very much or about anything in particular, it’s because I feel like I’m walking a tightrope. I have never accepted prescribed limitations or done well with authority, which makes a life in the academy a rather curious choice, so I have not opted to remain anonymous, but I also am not blind to the potential professioanl hazards I may encounter. Somehow I believe I can make it work, as long as I can focus on producing posts that I can defend, more in the vein of critical (often personal) interrogation rather than self-indulgent anecdote.
So we’ll see. It was far easier to blog when no one really read it! But lately, knowing that people I’ve never met are reading, knowing that there are people who may be in a position to judge me have come across this, I am much more self-conscious about what I put out there and how.
I frequently resort to metaphors of performance when describing blogging, and I’m going to use one now. Growing up, I preferred to play the piano when my family was not at home, out of a cringing fear of sounding unpolished, when my voice would crack, or when my fingers would fumble the notes, or, as I voyaged further into the throes of adolescence, out of embarrassment at how ardently I worked through the oeuvre of Tori Amos.
Emotion and teenage angst aside, I was uneasy with the idea of rehearsing in front of others. But now that I no longer have a piano in my home, I have to play when and where I can, which guarantees I will be overheard in all my unfinished, mid-rehearsal awkwardness.
The blog follows the rehearsal principle. I am writing longer projects which I occasionally refer to on this blog. I’ve labored on them for quite some time, trying to get them just perfect, and no one, with the exception of advisors, agents, and editors, will read them until they’re ready to be shown to the public. The blog, on the other hand, is a series of exercises– because there’s simply not enough time to truly prepare a blog post the way I would prepare an article for publication in a journal. So this space, then, is basically an open rehearsal. Although I know I have listeners, I have to try not to get self-conscious about the fact that I am bound to make mistakes, and that those mistakes will be overheard.
So why blog at all? Well– because in spite of the mistakes, sometimes I really land a note, and I don’t want to be the only one to hear it.