Dinner Parties and Such

“[The blogger] is similar in this way to the host of a dinner party. He can provoke discussion or take a position, even passionately, but he also must create an atmosphere in which others want to participate.”

I thought I’d begin with one of my favorite points by Sullivan. This is an idea that I found to be lacking in Didion’s and Orwell’s respective “Why I Write,” and is also something I sought to engage heavily in my re-purposing. Here, it is obvious that one of Sullivan’s motivations to write stems from his wish to engage his audience beyond the simple, passive act of reading—he wishes to create a space where opinions can be voiced and from that, where ideas can be refined and furthered. I see a ghost of this idea in Orwell’s discussion of the need for a political motive. However, I am missing the bridge leading to the blatant idea of a safe, public forum for the exchange of ideas that Sullivan discusses. Therefore, is this idea really more ambiguous than I first imagined? Is it the modern, fast-response based forum of blogging that introduces this as a new concept?

Sullivan’s concept of the writer as the host of dinner party emulates how I hope my future writing to turn out. It is an idea that I’ve been working with regarding my re-purposing and re-mediation, that in sharing my own ideas and questions regarding a topic as controversial as religion, others will feel comfortable reflecting and sharing their own opinions and experiences. This way, writing becomes not a passive, individual activity, but an active, community-based experience. And why wouldn’t we want this? This is where blogging diverges from older forms of writing and former mindsets regarding writing’s purpose.

The question is…how best should the writer encourage the reader to participate? Is it by playing devil’s advocate? Also, as Sullivan points out, how does one maintain a forum that is safe from the snarky and oftentimes offensive quick-fire responses the Internet is want to facilitate?

Above all, all three writers write because they feel compelled to, compelled by a force that is not tangible nor completely understandable. And this force creates a place where ideas are activated and where people can engage with each other. I hope to be able to contribute to this same, sacred place through my own writing.

One thought to “Dinner Parties and Such”

  1. I also thought of you when I read this quote about the dinner party! I agree that it perfectly describes your Major Project goals. I’m inspired by the fact that you’re not only putting yourself out there by opening up about your take on religion, but also that you’re hoping to create a community where readers and writers can converse. I understand your concern about maintaining a safe and supportive forum, and I’m sure you’re not alone on that one. However, I’m confident that your projects and the wording of your questions will elicit supportive conversations. You’re a natural writer and blogger, Emily 🙂

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