The following text is a set of random entries from On Blogging, an ongoing work in which I write one thousand (1,000) different micro-essays and aphorisms about blogging, and then post each of those entries to detrituscollective.tumblr.com one day at a time. The complete first draft of the whole work will be available online on July 31, 2017. These entries were chosen with a random list generator set to produce integers between 1–481 (the amount of entries written at the time of submission).
Soon the word “archive” will no longer be a noun but rather a verb (of course, it is currently already both—I simply mean that the latter will overtake the former as the primary meaning). This will come with a concurrent conceptual shift of the archive from a thing to a function.
Many criticize notions of “postmodernity” for not actually being as new as the prefix “post-” seems to imply, and instead being rather similar to either ancient or simply non-Western ways of looking at the world.1 I think this critique mistakenly accepts the universalizing performed by the term modernity, which is not an absolute condition of world-societal progress but rather a specific historical process originating in the imperial Western world. If, for example, postmodern philosophy by way of Deleuze ends up looking much like Zen Buddhism, we should not feel moved to discredit the category of postmodernity, but rather should feel in awe at the fact that disparate histories and traditions could give rise to the same ideas.2
When you blog about literally anything and everything it can become hard to figure out not only what is important in your life, but what is, like, a barely significant event. What is real, worth remembering or mentioning to someone else in conversation.
Blogging is a waking dream. In many realms we are beset with too much pressure to emerge… don’t close the book just yet… keep dreaming, friend… your blog can be your sleepy respite from the everything… these four walls are not my prison… each of your ideas is a sleeping nomad… each… take on the howl of life… process it… dream, quietly, lose your fear of sleeping… wake up whenever or never…
Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Blogging is what happens when you’re busy living life.
Postmodern religion, like modern religion, cannot avoid indulging in some despair. The difference is that they despair at different things: modernity at alienation (or isolation), postmodernity at overaccumulation.
What do we make of blogs getting book deals? We can maybe compare it to books being transformed into movies; clearly there is a pleasure in simply moving something to a different medium. But this is too broad a point. I think we make blogs into books for the simple reason that books are effective at making content more lasting and coherent.
A book contains within its covers. Blogs, on the other hand, are pure flow. For most of us it is plausible to imagine a book being definitive of something. Books, really, are always definitive; they are definitive of themselves, in the sense that they are defined by the clear boundaries of a beginning and an end. A blog might be capable of being definitive, but not in the same way.
On Blogging is hermetic techniques. Philosophy for the peerless. Conversations for the lonely. On Blogging is hyperlocal, perhaps even solipsistic. It is what you get when you leave a fevered mind alone with a blog and its thoughts.
Lately I take pictures and I want to share them but they are too personal to share. How can one be mute as a discursive subject? The best body is a corpse covered in a holy text. Or maybe the inverse: a trembling child speaking wisdom within a stream of babble.
Enough with all this standing on the shoulders of giants… forget the giants! Jump off their shoulders, amble about, and do your own growing (so that one day you may perhaps encounter them again).
In protest against the dialectical method, someone once said, Well, at the end of the day, don’t you need to do something? A fundamental misunderstanding of dialectics!—indeed, a fundamental misunderstanding of its method, of its aims, and of the metaphysics that underpin it. In a dialectical way of thinking, “at the end of the day” has no meaning at all. One must ask: at the end of which day? For there are always more days; to speak of some end of the day as the necessary culmination of a politics is to fall prey to an eschatological teleology. It is to envision politics as the precursor to a Final Judgment, to envision politics as a game tending towards death. If you think politics must necessarily reach some endpoint, some ultimate arresting of movement, then the term “dialectics” will never have any meaning for you.
A blog is an encyclopedia. It provides information and aspires to comprehensiveness. Maintaining either is exhausting and ultimately futile work. How could you explain everything in your life, when each day brings new events to
transcribe describe? How could you explain anything in your life, when each new event connects to a thousand other events? An encyclopedia that constantly grows and constantly disappoints: this is the blog.
Deleuze and Guattari managed in A Thousand Plateaus to write at the speed of thought. Now with blogging we may all manage to not only write at the speed of thought, but to publish at the speed of thought as well.
Blogging is talking endlessly on that one topic you might reasonably be able to claim to be the authority of: your own experience.
I think specifically of the anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot. However, although I am about to defend some conception of postmodernity, I do believe that Trouillot’s critiques of postmodern thought within anthropology are valid and useful. That his critique could coexist with my stupid argument I think attests to the well-documented semantic slippage of the term in question. ↩︎
Though I must here insert a caveat, recognizing that such a conclusion may be overly optimistic in a (post)colonial context. It may very well be the case that disparate philosophical traditions end up looking the same not because of an innate power of ideas but rather because of a willful appropriation of others’ ways of thought. A figure like Alan Watts is one clear example, although he may be tricky to categorize politically—surely he must be a better practitioner of Eastern thought than some other Western figures? Regardless, the thing to remember, and I think Trouillot wrote about this—although I cannot be sure, since his book is not currently in my house and therefore I cannot look up a passage to confirm—the thing to remember is that ideas really do not come out of nowhere, they come out of people and materials and all other sorts of historical agencies, and as such we cannot fully trust ideas for what they are without considering who is giving them life and what sorts of projects these agents are trying to accomplish. ↩︎
James Curry-Castillo is a writer and artist hatching a thousand different schemes in Portland, OR.