Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

novelty, once more

There have been some interesting reflections recently on the advantages and disadvantages of the blog as a medium for literary criticism and reflection: see here, here, and here.
I have mixed feelings on these points. On the one hand, since blogs tend to be personal, non-professional, and unpaid, they ought to be ideal venues for people to reflect on whatever they happen to be reading, whether it's brand-new or only new to them — or not even new to them: over at Tor.com there is a long-running blog series on re-reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which I think I have mentioned before in these pages. I'm pretty sure I've also mentioned group reading/blogging projects like Crooked Timber's Miéville Seminar and the Valve's Book Events, like the one on Theory's Empire.
But there is not nearly enough of this kind of thing online, and I blame, as I have so often blamed in the past, blog architecture itself, with its relentless emphasis on novelty and (relative) brevity. We need to fight against this — I need to fight against it. Why shouldn't I spend a month blogging my way through a big old book? Maybe someday I will. . . .


  • Michael Straight said...

    Also at Tor, this blog re-reading the Lord of the Rings is fantastic and the discussion in the comments is even better:


  • That's fantastic, Michael — somehow I hadn't seen that!

  • Regarding the "blog architecture": How does the medium emphasize novelty? Is it, rather, that readers expect this novelty and brevity from this particular form of self-publication? (In other words, if you write because you want people to read your musings ... you better keep it new and short.) Perhaps the typical blog publishing platform is a bit clumsy for an epic, but I think it would support a lengthy critical article.

  • Regarding the "blog architecture": How does the medium emphasize novelty?

    By always putting the newest content at the top of the first page.

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