Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogger's Credo: The Quotidian Horizon vs. Sub Specie Aeternitatis

Occasionally, one ought to pause to reflect on what one does in this vale of tears. An anonymous commenter has given me an opportunity to review once again the "Why I blog" question. The commenter had this to say about my post "Mars and Venus":


Maybe... but articles like that are going to appear pretty much whatever happens. People are always throwing up their hands and declaring something is finished when life doesn't go entirely smoothly (suggesting that they've never opened a single history book). Taking a dramatic view is pleasurable, whether the drama is in dismissing the capabilities of your allies, or of your own country, or questioning the motives and strategies of politicians from the position of omniscience which most journalists, and those who add comments to journalists' writings, seem to inhabit.
To which I responded (with mild embellishments):
Do I detect an ever so slightly critical edge in that comment? Ars longa, vita breva est, etc. The problem with the long view is that so much of life passes by while one is taking it. I got into blogging in order to shed the marmoreal serenity of the historian, who really does inhabit the world of passionless omniscience you so reasonably deplore but wrongly attribute to journalists, pundits, and the soldatesque of bloggers who follow in their wake. Being wrong daily tends, I find, to induce a little humility and bring one back to the limited horizon of the quotidian where politicians and other ordinary mortals move. To dramatize is human, and even those realists whom you seem to admire, the politicians, indulge in it from time to time. To go to war to prevent a "bloodbath," for example, is to employ a very dramatic trope. So is remaining silent about bloodbaths nearby that one prefers to avoid preventing (a drama now playing in Syria).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear, I thought this might happen and I wrote a p.s. saying that the comment was directed at the quoted people (and various Telegraph and Guardian journalists on whose sites I'd spent a frustrating morning), not you, but the site wouldn't accept it. It doesn't seem to want this one, either (logged in or anonymously) but I'll keep trying.

I don't have any special admiration for politicians; the frustration of being lectured by journalists and, worse, those who comment on journalists’ articles just gets a bit much.