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February 01, 2010


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that's awful that your editor can't just accept the content and format for what they are! editors and grammar books ought to be more tolerant or we're always gonna be left w the same ole predictable tone and format.

have you brought this up to your editor?

deleuze would be upset with him.


My question for you is probably loaded....

As an accomplished (as dirty as academic may sound, the key term is 'accomplished') do you feel that your editor should defer after offering advice? I imagine if I were in your position I would deserve it, but is that fair?

Plus, doesn't the notion of a study of blogging demand an unfinished feel? I guess there are comment-less blogs, but then are those blogs?


Thanks for the comments. Here's the honest answer: it's a privilege to have an editor who reads closely and well and who is willing to push. Without that, it's easy to let stuff slide, particularly if there are other looming deadlines and responsibilities. In my experience, academic authors and editors are so over-extended, that it's hard to give texts the time and attention one wants, whether one is the author or the editor (I am one of two co-editors of an academic journal in contemporary political and cultural theory). Editors can push authors away from too much reliance on jargon, away from presuming that we are clear when we are not or that our cryptic style is a ruse for the lack of idea or the lack of an argument. Particularly for academic authors, editors can really help readability.

On the blogging book: I think that the editor has let the bloggy style come through (which also means that there are not very many paragraphs that sum up, direct, explain, and say what the reader was supposed to have gotten from the preceding 40 pages).

The biggest issue has been the title, and now I think we've come up with one we can both live with The editor's concerns aren't trivial--the sales force has to convince the few bookstores that are left to carry it; this can be difficult if the title is too cryptic; the number of academic authors who can carry a book based on their name alone is pretty small and I'm not one of them; cover, title, blurbs, flap copy all make a difference. I was inclined toward what seemed to me to be more evocative titles; he wanted something that would clearly tell readers what the book is about. We ended up with: "Blog Theory: feedback and capture in the circuits of drive."

Copy-editors, though, are another matter. A friend just told me of an overly aggressive copy-editor who changed her acknowledgments! That's way beyond the pale.


You've got a couple of typos there, like: "same time disrupt these meeting" (you probably meant should be meaning).

Have you seen and/or read André Nusselder's 'Interface Fantasy: A Lacanian Cyborg Ontology'? Is it relevant to this project of yours?

Have you written anything about YouTube "video logs"?

Although I've read through the text, I find the very first paragraph the most interesting, that is the idea of 'blogs imposing something on us'. I first have to say that I'm not sure if I misread your point or not. First of all, if I may know, where did you get this example from, who is claiming that blogs are being imposed on them? Is it meant to be read as a reaction of the mainstream media? Or the reaction of blog readers themselves?

I'm the kind of person that never did read 'actual, old fashion blogs' until very recently. When I gathered together different blogs I might be interested in, I gathered the RSS feeds and added them to my Google Reader. I followed most of them for a week or so.. but what ended up happening is that after a while I just stopped reading blogs again. I stopped reading them because the authors produced long text compared to other 'internet sources' which wouldn't be a problem in itself if it at least had been worked on properly. What was happening that people were producing very good, quality posts one day, and then writing about the latest boring detail that captured their attention later. Publishing on a blog is so easy, that you end up with a kind of mixture of the worst of both worlds: long text like reading journals, but often very low quality, with occasional bright exceptions. I read your point about 'imposition' through this, but it's probably a misreading.


Without having read the rest of the book it is more difficult to comment. Having said that, I liked it a great deal and it is generally consistent with the themes of your last book on democracy. Your ultimate point seems to me that the intensive circulation of messages (irreguardless of content) hold us captive and prevents any significant challenge to the status quo. The best summation of this is when you say "The lack of action is the abundance of discussion viewed from a different angle." We are very active participants in our own oppression and we seem to enjoy it quite a bit.

I think for a conclusion you could go one of two ways: either summarize the thrust of your discussion, emphasizing the way blogging, and the internet in general, stands in the way of real political organization and change or try to find a "chink in the armor" within the flows of communicative capitalism. Perhaps you could describe what a "cut through the circuits of drive" would look like, or if there are any real life examples that have already done this on a small scale.

What I find difficult in responding to your approach is that it seems to suggest that more communication, or even "better" communication (clearer, more transparent) only further supports the system. If this is truly the case, only some sort of action radically removed from current discussions can have a chance of making a difference. This may in fact be true but it is hard to imagine how to even start thinking what this would look like.


Simon--I haven't read Nusselder although I will at some point. This project was nearly done when I learned about that book; my sense was that the themes of cyborg and ontology were both rather distant from mine.

You Tube/vlogs--no I haven't written anything about them.

'Imposition'--reaction voiced in mainstream media as it speaks for the big Other.

You are absolutely right about blogs--something interesting followed by something banal. What I've noticed, though, is that lots of times posts that I think are banal get lots of comments; posts that I work on and revise are ignored. I take that to mean that different readers like different things. Also, most journalism is pretty similar. In fact, I'm not sure I can name an author whose every utterance is brilliant and worth having read. You have to shift through dreck to find the gems--and, sometimes what was previously dreck is on second or third read precisely the gem you had missed.


Alain, thanks for taking a look at it. You are right, of course. I end up in a trap (actually, the first chapter warns the reader that I will try to occupy this trap rather than provide a happy ending). I think your idea about sketching what a cut through drive might look like is a good one. But the only stuff I can think of at this point is either apocalyptic or luddite and so really lame (my son told me that I tell him at least 5 time a weak that he's provided 'an incredibly lame excuse'). I keep wondering what a dialectical response would look like or an extra reflexivity or one of Zizek's the solution was already there --nothing. nada. The thing is, I really think that my description is correct and that what will happen is the continued break between our mediated connectivity and our political efficacy so that we end up in some kind of William Gibson or Neal Stephenson corporate controlled, unbearably unequal situation. I think that I should try to think of a way to avoid this, but I don't see it. Bleh. thanks again.


The only quick suggestion I would have is look at the Oregon vote you recently posted on - what did folks there do to organize and win tax increases on corporations and the wealthy? It may be a small example but it would be a place to start. I assume the organizers didn't spend much time blogging.:)


Hi Jodi, I enjoyed looking at your chapter, thanks for posting it online!

My thesis "framing everyday experience: blogging as art" might be of interest to you.

I can forward it if you like.

It's a practice-based research (first person) project attempting to develop a blogging practice which transforms my relationship with my own neighbourhood.

I found that 'attention' (how to focus my own each day, and 'capture' it from my blog readers and correspondents) became a large theme in the blogs I carried out as my 'case studies'.

Thinking about the way you open your chapter -- I feel that the accusation, that blogs are 'inflicted' on poor old internet users, isn't thrown around as much any more. This may be due to the fact (?) that the mass desire to share personal info online has somewhat shifted to more collective platforms (like f-book) where reader-consent is implied by signing up ...



'Cyborg' in the title of the book is misleading; it just basically means "machine dependency/addiction".

The author describes himself as some sort of mixture between philosophy, anthropology and Lacanian psychoanalysis, if I remember correctly. It's a work apparently based on a doctorate or something like that, so it's more academic than most of Žižek's work, but still very readable. Speaking as someone who started playing video games probably at the same time as I started walking I judge it to be theoretically very good (at least the first third that I've actually read). It also came out at Short Circuits, the book series edited by Žižek, that's how I found it. There's a link on my blog to the pdf, if you're interested.

And yeah, I know there's always drek to shift through :) But that becomes a problem when one wants to get a broader picture of what's happening on a particular intellectual scene.

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