Blogging As Being

by Will Wilkinson

Greetings Dishlickers! I’m just thrilled to have the chance to share this space with Michelle Dean whilst Andrew is away Andrewing. I’ve been a fan of the Dish since its earlyWill Wilkinson days, if not its inception. My personal blog, The Fly Bottle, goes back to November 2001, and I keep the whole thing online as a matter of principle, despite its damning evidence of a once-serious interest in Ayn Rand, because it is, in its still-evolving totality, a record of my intellectual and moral identity, and I fear that if I did not maintain its public existence I would begin to shade the truth about myself to myself, the better to conform to whatever idea about myself I am currently in the grip of, and would start to believe I had always been the way I’d prefer to imagine I had always been. And we don’t want that.

Anyway, when I began blogging, I was a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Maryland, and if not for the diversion of blogging, there is a decent chance I would now be an associate professor of philosophy at South Tulsa State Polytechnic or some other similarly esteemed institution. As it happens, I bailed on the dissertation and blogged my way into a job at the Cato Institute, where for six years I did think tanks things and pursued an agenda of making libertarianism palatable to liberals, which I guess didn’t go over well with absolutely everyone, and in 2010 I left Cato. By this time, I was telecommuting from Iowa City, where my now-wife, Kerry Howley, was working on her MFA at the University of Iowa’s amazing Nonfiction Writing Program. It looked to me that Kerry’s transition from political journalism to a more satisfying literary mode of writing was going well (it went very well), and I decided I wanted an MFA in creative writing, too.

So now I’m in my last year at the University of Houston’s illustrious creative writing program, working on a tricky novel about love and betrayal among political bloggers and free-market think tank wonks in the golden age of mid-Oughts D.C.

Between MFA-ing, keeping our 7-month-old son from tipping over, and teaching humanities at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where Kerry is an assistant professor of English, I haven’t had much time for blogging, though I do post occasionally at the Economist‘s Democracy in America blog. Yet I miss blogging terribly—about as much as I hate the word “blogging.” Blogging has been so much a part of my life that when I am not doing it, or doing something like it, I feel a little diminished, even slightly spectral, as if impersonal but immediate dialectical engagement were the vital principle of authentic human existence. I could hardly be happier, then, to have this chance to slip out of the vague unreality of my blessed unvirtual life and experience for a few days the spurious sense of solidity that I know will come from opining irresponsibly from Andrew’s towering soapbox.

I’ll start here. Michelle’s cat is, I agree, very attractive. But not as attractive as my dog.