e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


bloggy moves

Maybe inspired by Massumi's exhortations to let go and get stupid, in my last post I 1) wrote in a fake question-and-answer format, and 2) referred to myself in the third person. In a way these are both blog moves. Not quite blog conventions, but blog moves.

The question-and-answer acts as a close cousin to the 'Frequently Asked Questions,' the idea being that the text itself anticipates and imitates the role of the reader. You have questions. Let me give voice to those questions and then answer them. It's at once a writer-based (presumptuous to know the readers' concerns, to speak for them, and then actually to speak the concerns) and reader-based (let me think about what the reader needs) move.

Referring to oneself in third person. Maybe the most irritating rhetorical move ever! But it's kind of cool to think about who we are when we refer to ourselves in such a way. I'm me but I'm someone else too. I'm a fiction. Sounds a lot like a blog persona.

I don't know how often I do bloggy things--rhetorically speaking--on my blog. I mean I link to news stories and youtube and wikipedia, use subject lines like "Tuesday roundup" or "Friday miscelaneous," but overall I think I'm often guilty of just taking how I normally write in other settings and pasting that mode into a blog. Today I'll write as if I'm writing an entry in a journal. Tomorrow I'll write as if I'm e-mailing a friend about a film I just saw. The next day I'll write as if I'm writing a book review for Teaching English in the Two-Year College. Etc. After 3.5 years of blogging, I'm not sure blogging represents, for me, any kind of coherent, repeatable, or name-able process. Not sure it should.

Likewise, I've never gotten into a lot of the familiar typographical bloggy things:
--The use of strikethrough text to reveal one's snarkyness by pretending one has resisted the urge to snark it up. Rosie O'Donnell is a gasbag has differing opinions. Of course this technique mirrors the old-school practice of crossing something out. And this is a feature in most word processing programs, so obviously not new to blogs. Just used to death there. And used in more of a signifyin' way. I'm snarky; I'm not snarky.
--The use of the word "Um" to express disagreement or point out contradictions and hypocrisies. Rush Limbaugh accuses the Clinton camp of being soft on drugs. Um, hello pain pill incident. I see this on listservs quite a bit too. Um, if you read my message you'll see I never called you an imbecile...
--The excessive use of the word "seriously" a la characters on Grey's Anatomy. I guess you can never have too many ways to express incredulity. Referring to yourself in the third person. Seriously? You can substitute the word "really" if you wish to be less sarcastic. Corn flakes for dinner. Really?
--The use of the verb "fisk." I hate this word (which refers to refuting an argument, point-by-point), though the etymology is interesting (see link). I'm going to fisk that editorial, which is chock full of fallacies. Like Fred Willard in Best in Show says of shih tzus, "that name just rolls off the tongue."


Mike G said...

You forgot one: "Not so much." I read a news story awhile ago: "Is Clinton unelectable? Not so much." Gahhh.

bdegenaro said...

Oh yeah. Is that also a Gray's Anatomy thing? I think hear 'Not So Much' verbalized as often as I see it in blogs.

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

i make a lot of those moves, but i've been doing it for a long time now. it's both imitation (Pynchon; David Foster Wallace) and a form of self-reflection-turned-outward . . . as in revealing. revealing (not necessarily snarkiness) a kind of tentative or uncertain logic that nevertheless wants to be heard (here's Massumi, i think). i don't think i would write much at all if i couldn't express through such moves. they confer a note of something-less-serious to serious matters, so they allow me to speak at all, because when it comes to Serious, i have a very hard time. in fact, i've written this about the 1984 film; if i hadn't been filming you guys in RFP, i would have had NO way of engaging at all w/ political rhetoric in the post 9/11 scene. i was/have been simply immobilized. so, a little snark, a little tentative, a little rambling, for me it works. finally, i think it reflects a contemporary version of earlier literary moves -- sarcasm, satire, etc. i'm thinking Swift, Twain, even Dostoevsky, who, read from a contemporary perspective is a riot. s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y (sorry).

bonnie lenore kyburz said...

"for a long time now," as in, before my blog, before blogs maybe?