Last night when I told my mother I had started a blog, she said, “Yeah, I just feel like being Chesterton or someone, going out and sitting in a garden in the sun and reading for a long time. Getting away from everything, the internet, the telephone, TV . . .”
“No, no,” I said, “you don’t understand. I’m doing the opposite of what you’re talking about doing. I started a blog.”
“Oh, I know what you said. But it’s really the same kind of thing; you’re just doing it differently.”
Indeed I am. I plead guilty. I am not over-fond of the internet. I keep my cell phone turned off whenever I am at home. I’m not a Luddite; but I prefer to use my technology, not to allow myself to be abused by it. I got on Facebook to keep in contact with my friends; but then, I’ve been known to avoid my friends in person from time to time. Why should my behavior be any different in cyberspace?
To be sure, this complicates the question of why I started a blog. Blogs, after all, are for people who want to open their stream of consciousness for all the world to bathe in, aren’t they?
Not always; not necessarily. There are those kinds of blogs of course; blogs that assume everyone in the world has the time and the interest to snoop on what their neighbors are doing.
But then, sometimes it is worth knowing what your neighbors are doing.
And then again, sometimes it isn’t.
In any case, this is not one of those blogs. The other kinds of blogs (the respectable kinds, that are not automatically in opposition to my mother’s preference for a Chestertonian secession from our rotten state) can be roughly divided into News Blogs and Chews Blogs. News blogs may be called the newspapers of the twenty-first century, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious for columns composed in basements by pajama-wearing tea-drinkers, or on the metro by professionals whose tool of choice is a Blackberry. Give me a notebook scribbled by Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart any day . . .
But this is not a news blog either. A good news blog requires live investigation, which is not compatible with my confessed desire to read in a garden. True, some news blogs get away with cannibalizing the blogs that actually report; but if I wanted to be one of those I'd never escape my computer.A chews blog? An opinion blog, a blog of thoughts chewed or mulled over. A blog where the topic is whatever I choose to write about, but never anything terribly personal. A blog of culture, if you will, but only those aspects of culture that happen to interest me. A self-serving blog, you may say; but then, I’m not so conceited as to suppose that there aren’t millions of other people out there just like me, who might enjoy reading posts written by someone just like them.
You see, I still owe my allegiance to the garden and the books. I still prefer them to the rest of the world, but only because the rest of the world is something less than perfect. But when your world, your home, your place of sojourn is less than perfect, you have two choices. You can flee, or you can fight. You can make your house a castle with a garden and a library inside. Alternatively, you can make you house a castle with said garden and library, and start shooting arrows out the windows.
Which would you choose?