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Meta, but not in that interesting and amusing way

One of the reasons I’m blogging so slowly lately is that the really complicated stuff I have found interesting over the last few days remains in a muddle, and I have little idea how to write about it at all, much less how to form a blognote I’d be happy to put into my Tohu Bohu. For instance ... Benjamin Rosenbaum has been hosting a lovely discussion about the myth of the Self, and materialism, and the nature of the universe. The participants are arguing at what I would call a pretty high level of rigor and vocabulary, and I haven’t dipped my oar in because (in part) what I have found useful is simply my rewording other people’s statements into language with which I feel somewhat comfortable, and then being unsure whether I’ve done so within a reasonable limit, or whether I agree with the statement or not, or even whether I really am comfortable with the words I’ve chosen. When Mr. Rosenbaum talks about the Self being a myth, for instance, he is stating that it is an explanation of observed phenomena, and that it is persuasive without being rational. Like, oh, Adam and Eve, or the Flood, or the Founding Fathers, or the Septuagint, it’s a framework for interpretation, and it can be a very useful one regardless of whether the explanation bears close resemblance to the empirical universe or holds up to logical scrutiny. But this status depends, clearly, on rhetorical effectiveness: what does it mean to say that an explanation is a myth, rather than saying it is false? It must be accepted, and thus the rhetoric is an inherent part of it. And I don’t think that Mr. Rosenbaum or Your Humble Blogger are willing to tackle Self as a rhetorical issue. Not today, thank you.

You see? All that hobble-de-hoy, and all I’ve done is put my blogging self at the bottom of a mountain, and declared it steep. The blogging equivalent of going back to Rivendell to report there was snow in January.

Another example, although a bit more tenuous. There’s a discussion of internet anonymity going on in response to The Latest Dark Cabal (and I’m thinking here of the conversation at the Chrononaut Log, basically, without which I would barely be aware of the existence of such a cabal, who, I should add, are clearly not writing with Your Humble Blogger as a member of their ideal audience, and whose entire project seems infused with a ponderous humour of the type I usually find appealing, but which because of that whiff of exclusion I find annoying in this case), and it occurred to me to question my own pseudonymity at this site. Most of you, Gentle Readers, know my name, address and telephone number; anonymity is scarcely a good description for that relationship. The one Gentle Reader (or at least commenter) who I am certain I have never met could be told my name, address and phone number without any difficulty; I can’t imagine it would mean anything to him. The pseudonym does not exist to buffer me from him. The buffer, really, is for situations entirely hypothetical. I will, at some point, be looking for employment, and it’s possible that a potential employer will go to the trouble of googling my name or otherwise searching for what passes for Me on the internet, and although I have no intention of deceiving anyone about my political affiliation, nor yet my baseball affiliation, still it’s easy to see how a quick perusal of this Tohu Bohu might well decrease my chances. And, of course, should I someday be employed, there’s that end of it, too; I never really did write about my employer when I was employed, but there may well have been things in this Tohu Bohu that I would phrase differently, or even elide altogether, in conversations with co-workers or employers. And, of course, if, as could happen in the blogosphere through no individual blame or credit, some post of mine gets picked up by even a B list blogger, some wild thing I say in passing (and of course, it would be the most irresponsible and ill-thought-out that would be so picked up) could well be taken to be the whole of my personhood; I am willing to let Vardibidian be vulnerable to that, but I’m not willing to let my name, address and telephone number be attached to that risk, nor yet my Best Reader or my Perfect Non-Reader (and it is, of course, a terribly low risk, particularly now I’ve left off commenting on other people’s blogs). On the other hand, I have no way of knowing the cost of using the pseudonym, because the cost would presumably be in lost readers, who wouldn’t contact me to let me know that they find my musings less interesting and/or persuasive knowing that my name is not attached. All of which could, conceivably, be made into a blognote, I suppose, although I would have to come to some sort of conclusion, or at least some sort of question.

In fact, the sort of thing that strikes me as being easy enough to blog about doesn’t strike me as being worth your time to read, Gentle Reader. I mean, it’s easy enough to make fun of any given David Brooks column, such as today’s where he takes as his jumping-off point for talking about the Decline and Fall of Practically Everything a lengthy essay in Time magazine about Ernest Hemingway. Mr. Brooks says that “this type of essay was not unusual in that era.” He does not mention that the essay appears two weeks after Mr. Hemingway’s suicide. It was not a randomly chosen “middlebrow” bit of literary theory; it was news. Now, if he wants to argue that ... look, what’s the point? The man’s not honest, and nobody reading this is likely to give any credence to his nonsense. Writing a note on that would be necrophilic bestial flagellation, you know, beating a dead horse.

So.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,
-Vardibidian.

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