Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Imageless, quoteless blogging

Someone recently asked me why I tend to quote other bloggers, critics, or writers rather than using this medium to put forth my own thoughts. Although I fumbled around a lot of potential reasons in my attempt to defend the high amount of citing I do in my posts, I couldn't articulate a sound argument that satisfactorily surmised my extensive use of quotations as a sort of springboard for my own thoughts. This question has been stayed with me for several weeks now and affected my perspective of my writing, as well as how I read other blogs.

Part of the intrigue of blogging is that the writer is not restricted to a particular mode or style of writing. One can approach writing about cinema in a variety of ways. Some choose to follow a direct format of either formal journalistic review writing, others offer news or links on different areas of the filmmaking industry. Still others prefer to offer commentaries on immediate issues in film criticism and trends in contemporary cinema, while others frame their writing through a certain general time or style in film history. Of course these are only a few examples. There are many more kinds of blogs that defy this sort of label. In fact, many of the best blogs converge pre-established forms of writing about cinema, often resulting in fresh perspectives.

Aside from the "all styles, but no styles" approach to writing on many of these blogs, the multiplicity of these varied perspectives is staggering. When I look at my sidebar of links for blogs that recommend and read regularly, I will usually find links on those blogs to other sites I may not of heard of. When I read these sites, I encounter more perspectives, and then have access to even more unknown venues of film and culture writing via their sidebars. That's what I mean by multiplicity. There is so much out there that I wouldn't even know where to begin to recognize it all. Every sidebar of links on a blog is just a gateway to a corridor of so many other windows and entry ways into other blogs.

When thinking about my own writing, I recognize my position as a small cog in a greater machine of online film discourse. Which may account for why I make it a point to reference so many other sites and writers. My thoughts and perspectives are greatly influenced not just by what films I see, but what books, articles, and blog entries I read. I am constantly exposed to so many kinds of writing that it has a sort of decentering affect on me. My efforts to converge the stream-of-conscious diary-esque forms of writing that blogs with a professional mode of publishing, which itself represents an effort to bridge scholarly and journalistic argumentative and stylistic writing forms, results in posts that are the result of both my own thoughts and words as well as thoughts and words that are not mine. It important not only to acknowledge who or what is influencing my perspectives, but also to draw on different perspectives to assist in structuring my own writing and concepts. No ideas exist in a vacuum. Everything about this blog represents something I'm using that's already in existence, calling for me to use it; whether it's the aesthetic layout, which I can select from a controlled number of options, or the way in which I present links, lists, or other visual features, including images themselves. It all has to appear in a certain way. Therefore it would only seem appropriate that the words, i.e. signifying units, I use come from others sources; sources that lack an author.

My thoughts are sometimes free-flowing, providing me with endless topics and movies to write about. Other times (like now) my ideas are more intangible, messy, unorganized, to the extent that my writing reflects this level of thought rather than structuring it. Lately I've found it difficult to commit my thoughts to one post and follow through with it in spite of my desire to imbue this site with a consistent output of material. Only seldomly have I bothered to provide a structure to my thoughts because in doing so I lose what made those concepts unique: their totally unprocessed nature. It's so difficult to construct pieces of writing that are caught halfway between raw, actual moments and the structured precision of crisp journalistic or scholarly reflections.

Blogging seems to me like a free flowing consciousness serving as a conduit to the disjointed thoughts and ideas of those who write on them. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but often times those pros and cons are the same thing. As a result, the writer can be driven into frustration by a strong desire to honor a sense of order while at the same time shattering it and engaging in a new form of writing and critical exercise. David Edelstein once called blogging (and I'm paraphrasing here) a writing of the id, which he described as both flawed and necessary. I'm no fan of Freudian symbology, but his allusion is relevant inasmuch that it acknowledges the need for a new form, or new system of writing wherein new modulations of comprehension and analysis can be constructed, and those enact them can conceive of information or knowledge(s) in a new way.

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