Blogs

I went along to Michael Taussig’s talk at Melbourne Uni on Wednesday about notebooks. The content of the talk was interesting and the exchange during question time with those in the audience who use psychoanalysis in their work set off a few questions in my own mind. However, what I thought was a somewhat boring and predictable comment from the audience is what has given me the most food for thought. A consensus was reached that blogs and notebooks are different because the corporeality of the notebook is lost in the digital nature of the blog. Furthermore, the notebook belongs in the private realm while blog writers generally hope somebody else reads their work. I do think that blogs and notebooks are very, very different but I think they can also share the status of an intentional project.

Taussig drew a parallel between fetish objects used by his informants to magically harvest above a single person’s physical ability and his notebook as somehow drawing out information from people and ideas from him. A notebook in this sense becomes not just an object but also a project. The notebook is physically altered and brought into being by the project of keeping/ using the notebook and other people can be drawn to this project. I think this is where there is a similarity with blogs. I do not want to say they are the same or that one is bringing about the death of the other, but perhaps there is something about bringing something into being that helps all sorts of people get around to doing the work to create a diary, a notebook or a blog.

Perhaps I am rushing to defend blogs. I love finding and reading blogs, especially anthropology blogs and blogs by research students. I think the reason why I am drawn to them is that they offer a glimpse into thoughts, ideas and debates that I probably would not have heard about unless I was sitting in the halls of that department. I know that having this blog helps me be able to put to rest ideas that take over my mind when I am riding my bike to work and really should be paying attention to the road. On the other hand, it does also distract me from getting some rather dull reading done.

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