28 February 2002

Is brevity the soul of blogging?

David Weinberger (whoops, I mean, “David Weinberger, that cretin”) said in three words what I was trying to say in three thousand: “flames anodize cliques.” Yup. Of course, over at Wealth Bondage, we may observe how a slow, steady heat can sometimes melt away folly, and likewise how rapid immersion in boiling invective can occasionally purge ideological opacity.

Which brings me to another point (when will he stop?): some of the criticism in the aftermath of l’affaire Dvorak fingered Rageboy for his floridly profane instructions to JD. Both RB and My Happy Tutor draw from a semantic domain that those of us in the theology biz typically avoid (in public), for a variety of reasons. But even one so cautious of speech as I realizes that there’s a difference between RageBoy deliberately advising Mr. Dvorak to put tab A into slot B (not his words) and (let us take for example) Jody Slufnak saying to a high-school classmate, “Exhale heartily in my direction, practitioner of intergenerational incest!” (once again, not in quite those terms). There are flying mallets and flying mallets, and some are subtle, and others are just, well, flying mallets. May we feel free to criticize RB’s tactics and diction without implying that he and my hypothetical Jody operate at the same pitch of sophistication?

Help me with this ( 8:00 AM )

Cinnamon’s correspondence with Dave Rogers perpetuates the ideologeme that won’t go away — that somehow it’s wrong for people to talk with, write with, hang out with people with whom they like to spend time. She deploys the hot-word clique and worries that non-bloggers might become “quickly disenchanted by the other offerings targeted to the ‘in-crowd.’ ”

Somewhere someone got the odd idea that it’s wrong for people with similar interests to hang out together — “Oooh, it’s a clique.” This, from the same culture that has made Seinfeld and Friends two of the longest-running, highest-rated sitcoms in TV history.

I mean no offense to Cinnamon, with whom I have no complaint. But I’ve been on the outside of almost anything that could be counted as a clique all my life, except perhaps for a circle of intensely brilliant theologian friends, among whom I’m certifiably (as the Apostle said) the least of many brethren. So I understand the feeling of being left out. But, what else should be the case? If the Baltimore Orioles never included me on their roster to play second base, do I have a grievance? If no pick-up band ever recruited my thundering baritone and my fumbling bass guitar, should they have been obligated to, lest I call them a clique? If I have to listen to everyone who makes any claim on my notice, all that’ll happen is that I’ll retire from the unbounded domain of mandatory attention (hence, boredom leavened with occasional interest), to someplace I may listen to and talk with those whose discourse pleases and edifies me. If that’s a small group of people, I can live with that.

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