Bloglash

Feb 18 2006 @ 3:12am

The blogosphere doom-mongers and critics are gaining traction. Dan Gross predicts meltdown here. I enjoyed this Financial Times essay a great deal, although I strongly disagree that Orwell’s prolixity was somehow detrimental to his work. (I love his essays on English cooking, the ideal pub, and the perfect cup of tea: all classic blog-fodder) The FT essay also fails to grasp how readers contribute to the process and act as a collective, corrective brain unavailable to the MSM. Still, the evanescence of bloggery is undeniable:

"And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts – a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news."

Unlike, say, the Washington Post? The point of journalism of all kinds is its evanescence. I’m writing a book now; and it’s an utterly different exercize from bloggery. I cannot write it off the cuff; I think and re-think it every day. I revise and scrub and re-write and finesse and edit – before I publish. It would be great if the timing is perfect (October this year), but the point of a book is not necessarily to hit the perfect moment, but to make a longer-lasting statement. I.e. it’s not journalism. I had one memorable flash of revelation about journalism, over a decade ago. I’d written my latest column for the Sunday Times. Saturday night, I had a panic that I’d gotten something wrong, called the paper up and got the over-night sub-editors. The subs, as they are known in Fleet Street, are the real editors. They get to slice and dice your copy if an ad comes in too large. I huffed and puffed for a few minutes about my possible error, only to get the memorable reply (in broad Cockney):

"Aw, I wouldn’t worry about that, mate. It’s fish and chips soon, mate. Fish and chips."

For the uninitiated, the correct receptacle for fish and chips, Brit-style, is to have them wrapped in newspaper. Sooner rather than later, my imperfect prose would be warming a piece of battered cod. Google seems almost dignified in comparison.