Why they write, and why he blogs

CTools is down, and with it access to the articles. CTools was up, about two hours ago, during which I had the retrospectively-fortunate opportunity to read “Why I Write,” “Why I Write,” and “Why I Blog,” by George Orwell, Joan Didion, and Andrew Sullivan, respectively.

I suppose in some respects this is a good thing, as I can now focus on my overall impressions of the writings, rather than feeling obliged to go back to each and pick out a quote from there to fill up space here.

In my view, Sullivan’s piece stood above the others in quality as much as it did in length. I appreciated his introduction–complete with personal anecdotes–in which he provided a history of blogging as well as its revolutionary impact on the world of writing. Also interesting were his observations on the differences between the blog writer and the traditional media writer: how the former is less insulated from his readers, and therefore more accountable, than the latter; how ability for instant publication brings out the personality of the former while the lack thereof can stifle that of the latter; how the inevitable spirit of competition among those of the latter corresponds, remarkably, to an equally-necessary spirit of community among those of the former; and how, precisely because of these differences, the former can never replace the latter, and vice versa. Perhaps initially counter-intuitive, Sullivan’s explications of these surprising statements eventually make their veracity obvious, and with it, the answer to the question in his title.

In contrast, neither “Why I Write” essays approached this fundamental question with the same directness as did Sullivan’s “Why I Blog.” Joan Didion’s ending, admittedly, was very clever and the personal background in George Orwell’s introduction very eye-opening. Nevertheless, I think my relative dislike for these pieces when compared to Sullivan’s piece stems from my personal bias as a writer away from wandering personal narratives in freestyle form and toward direct arguments in parallel sentence structure.

We’ll see if that changes as the semester progresses…

2 thoughts to “Why they write, and why he blogs”

  1. Joe,

    I definitely agree with you that of the three articles Sullivan’s was by far the most captivating for me to read! Although I did enjoy both Didion’s and Orwell’s pieces as well (especially after delving a bit deeper into each of them during our interesting class discussions today), I instantly related to how Sullivan presented blogging in his article. As you mention in your post above, I was fascinated by Sullivan’s comparison of the blog writer to the traditional writer. I had never considered the true revolutionary impact that the blogging and “online” world has had on how not only how we write, but how we think about writing. The immediacy that comes hand in hand with blogging has fostered a new form of raw public self-expression that we have never seen before!

  2. Joe, your opinions on the readings were the complete opposite of the ones I posted in my blog, but I find that through your points I am beginning to agree with you more. I agree with you that you are lucky that ctools was down as you were writing your blog response because you just wrote as you felt, where I did the latter and did feel obliged to put quotes in. Your ideas about Sullivan’s piece were insightful and I applaud your memory despite the piece not being right in front of you. It is obvious that Sullivan made a big impression on you and your intensity makes me want to read “Why I Blog” again.

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