Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You There in Hyperborea

One of my friends was looking over my entries and the links on my blog roll and she said we were all too aloof and dry. She does not see a Dionysian-Apollonian synthesis with all the wordy things we're doing in hyperblog land, this blog included. Maybe she's right; after all, she's a free-spirited intelligent person. Perhaps she's suggesting we blog-while-drunk more to exercise the spirits. (This would be fun, and potentially revealing.)

Whatever I write from the mountaintop in Hyperborea can come off too condescending or over-intellectualized, but I don't think I should care. I said we're all people who enjoy fleshing out ideas in writing and creative expression. The impression she had was that we're showing off how trendily postmodern we are and expecting admiration for it. "Intellectual self-indulgence," she said.

Maybe she's right to some degree, but I think whatever we do now is postmodern. It's the age we live in, the postmodern era, and the problems are not just trends. If the only way we can address them is by becoming Hyperboreans, very well, then! becoming Hyperborean is a rite of passage. There are too many misconceptions about us though, and it is for that reason Hyperborea is inhabited by the rarest people. "Perhaps not one of them is yet alive," wrote Nietzsche.


adjunct whore said...

intellectual self-indulgence--hmm, how about communicating, working out ideas, trying to make meaning out the nonsense?

i hate people who so easily judge:)

JCD said...

Tell her to kill her TeeVee and quit her facebook.

I do watch some TV said...

I wasn't referring to every blog entry or every blog; just saying that a lot of things I read while browsing were written in a way that would be completely inaccessible to an average reader (whether they just hadn't been introduced to the subject, weren't college educated, or don't have access to a lot of alternative media).

This is fine when you're writing for yourself or for a specific audience, but for some blogs that advocate the position of the common man it strikes me as a little hypocritical. It seems conceited to promote the welfare of the poor or uneducated while rubbing ones ivory towers of intellectualism in their face and not making the conversation inclusive.

I have recently been under heavy criticism for sounding manufactured and basically like any trendy underground alternative magazine- exploring humanism but for what purpose? Simply to show off that I have the time to do it because I don't need to work two jobs to make a living?

I don't think blogging is negative, and exploring interesting ideas and "trying to make meaning out of the nonsense" are wonderful and deeply personal.

I just meant to casually bring up the idea of conceit in this medium because I've recently been accused of it myself and want to consider if intellectuals maybe are a little self indulging- no value judgment included or intended.

JCD said...

Americans have a thing against intellectuals and . I dunno why. It's probably tied to a broader impulse in the culture (like the notion that everybody, if he works hard enough, can end up rich). Or it could be something else completely.

But I'd add some things for you to chew on: it's not surprising that pretty much anything written would be inaccessible to the 'average reader', by which I assume you mean the average American reader: American schools are abysmal places, they fail to produce people who know how to read anything that is not the equivalent of See Spot Run!. If you look at the average student who goes on to college you see that they have terrible reading comprehension and writing skills. Those who go on to college! Those who do not, whose education or social place has not even granted them that, are presumably even worse off. To write for the average reader, as many newspapers do, you have to write at a 10th or 11th grade level. Some shoot even lower and go for the 8th. Not very much subtlety of analysis or complexity of understanding can be conveyed at that level of writing. Unfortunately!

Just to be clear, I am not denigrating the people who are educated by our school system: I am saying the system itself is rotten and does not equip people to read anything worth reading, or very much to think things that need thinking, either.

I am not sure what you mean by the 'advocate position of the common man'; would you care to elaborate?

At any rate, a blog is hardly a mass medium -- save the major platforms: HuffPo, TPM, etc. In potential, it can reach millions; in actuality, it reaches tens. So it is odd that one would confuse posts written for a blog that likely has a specialist audience anyway (ie, with enough leisure to surf the web and an interest in what a particular site covers) is intended for mass appeal.

Also, it's a bit odd to have to defend an interest in intellectual things, whether it is the history of thought, Kant's transcendental idealism, or the way the rich fuck us with the economy. Would you feel likewise compelled to defend an interest in sports? Sitcoms? Knitting? What is it about intellectualism that makes it so deplorable?

Ortho said...

Your "friend" must not have visited my brilliant exercise in blogging while drunk and stoned.

Greg Afinogenov said...

I cultivate a detached and intellectualized style deliberately, although it doesn't work very well. In general I am suspicious of the demand to abandon the ivory tower--if I were a Marxist I would say that this way lies subjectivism. But we should all read Mao's classic speech "Oppose Stereotyped Party Writing":

The first indictment against stereotyped Party writing is that it fills endless pages with empty verbiage. Some of our comrades love to write long articles with no substance, very much like the "foot-bindings of a slattern, long as well as smelly". Why must they write such long and empty articles? There can be only one explanation; they are determined the masses shall not read them. Because the articles are long and empty, the masses shake their heads at the very sight of them. How can they be expected to read them? Such writings are good for nothing except to bluff the naive, among whom they spread bad influences and foster bad habits ...

The second indictment against stereotyped Party writing is that it strikes a pose in order to intimidate people. Some stereotyped Party writing is not only long and empty, but also pretentious with the deliberate intention of intimidating people; it carries the worst kind of poison. Writing long-winded and empty articles may be set down to immaturity, but striking a pose to overawe people is not merely immature but downright knavish. Lu Hsun once said in criticism of such people, "Hurling insults and threats is certainly not fighting."[3] What is scientific never fears criticism, for science is truth and fears no refutation. But those who write subjectivist and sectarian articles and speeches in the form of Party stereotypes fear refutation, are very cowardly, and therefore rely on pretentiousness to overawe others, believing that they can thereby silence people and "win the day". Such pretentiousness cannot reflect truth but is an obstacle to truth. Truth does not strike a pose to overawe people but talks and acts honestly and sincerely ... Against the enemy this tactic of intimidation is utterly useless, and with our own comrades it can only do harm. It is a tactic which the exploiting classes and the lumper-proletariat habitually practice, but for which the proletariat has no use. For the proletariat the sharpest and most effective weapon is a serious and militant scientific attitude. The Communist Party lives by the truth of Marxism-Leninism, by seeking truth from facts, by science, and not by intimidating people. Needless to say, the idea of attaining fame and position for oneself by pretentiousness is even more contemptible. In short, when organizations make decisions and issue instructions and when comrades write articles and make speeches, they must without exception depend on Marxist-Leninist truth and seek to serve a useful purpose. This is the only basis on which victory in the revolution can be achieved; all else is of no avail.