This clip from the late David Foster Wallace ties into my evolving thoughts about blogging. (Of course, it does, or else I would not have posted it.) Wallace comments that with the exception a shrinking few who have been taught the arduous yet rewarding way to read, most people simply do not like to put in the effort it takes to read well. Nothing new with this observation. Any sociologist or cultural commentator (authoritative or self-inaugurated) of the past, let us say, fifty years would claim the same. Wallace, however, goes beyond this; his claim revolves around the suspicion that people do not like the silence that reading requires–the silence which may very well allow deep metaphysical discontent to emerge. That is why, as he continues to say, modern society has turned noise into a fetish. Primary example: public spaces. A growing number of public spaces–to say nothing of businesses that offer ostensibly “meditative” spaces like coffee shops and bookstores–now blast (usually poor) music so that no one has to experience the trauma of silence.
How does this apply to blogging? Well, blogging may indeed involve sitting in quiet room free of distractions (though, more often it does not, I suspect), but even the silence in which one may blog or read blogs seems to be a mediated type of silence. This silence does not strike me as one that naturally leads to free-roaming speculation or greater openness to “simple intuition”; rather, this kind of mediated silence–one that continuously tempts to engage in the dazzling array of WiFi assisted search options–leads, at best, to a kind of mildly distracted concentration that struggles with the vague fear that something more interesting can be found and quickly consumed via a Google search. In other words, this silence remains one that offers only an “opportunity to abandon oneself to the world” (Heidegger) as opposed to an opportunity to better understand both oneself and the world.
What do you do, though?