July 2, 2008

"I share Ann's affection for bloggers who are trying to observe and understand what they are writing about..."

Writes Jim Lindgren, commenting on my comment on Rush Limbaugh. (Ha ha.) He contrasts this trying to observe and understand what they are writing about — I would say thinking by writing —to "always writing op-eds with a thesis they are trying to prove" and is nice enough to say this is "one reason that I enjoy reading her blog." But he concludes:
Unfortunately, I find that many blog readers prefer strongly thesis-driven posts, which they can either echo or attack point by point.
Many... perhaps. But the best blog readers — and radio listeners — are the ones who want to experience thinking in real time.

Jim seems to be complimenting and critiquing me simultaneously. But I detect some wistfulness, some request for permission to cast aside those strongly thesis-driven posts — to live freely in writing.

26 comments:

Simon said...

To live freely in writing indeed.

Ann Althouse said...

Aw, thanks, Simon. I predicted Ruth Anne would do that.

Meade said...

"But the best blog readers..."

On behalf of most of your readers...
why thank you!

Beth said...

Mega-dittos!

Simon said...

Ann, she's gotta' be quick on the draw in this game!

That phrase sticks in my mind because it had long seemed (and I think I suggested at one point) an apt title were you ever to publish a folio of essays.

Tyler said...

Badass.

KLDAVIS said...

I think it's funny that you appreciate Rush, despite the fact that you believed he was scripted. What I enjoy about the style you both share is the spontaneity. And, I would be put off tremendously by if the real-time brainstorm was just a ploy. Not that I don't think you have an act...I know you both do. But, it seems to be more about discovery and understanding than about affecting a particular reaction in the audience.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roman said...

Thinking? WOW...what a concept!

ricpic said...

What's so superior about torturously arriving at what you know as you write? In some areas, the political for instance, the agnostic position - hovering, forever hovering - bespeaks an inexcusable perpetual adolescence. But then, in so many ways, that's the modern ideal, isn't it? To never coalesce into an adult who knows what he knows and says it straight out. That's so, ugh...unevolved.

DBrooks17 said...

I have to disagree ricpic. The adolescent is the one who is rigidly set in belief system, often accepting no evidence to the contrary. The unexamined life isn't worth living, and the unquestioned belief system isn't meaninfgul.

DBrooks17 said...

or even meaningful.

paul a'barge said...

I'm thinking (see?) that he's complimenting you and critiquing those mutt blog readers ... (Ha Ha:-)

Henry said...

I wonder if Lindgren is actually commenting about life amidst the Volokh Conspiracy. The blog's reputation may create a pressure upon its authors to be eternally rigorous and definitive.

Ricpic, the question isn't about avoiding conclusions or hovering above issues, the question is being willing to expose the process by which you arrive at conclusions.

Intelligent thinking is a creative act, one in which complex ideas reveal themselves through imagination and play as much as logic and examination.

It's nice to imagine that all right conclusions should spring fully formed from the uncorrupted brain, but that kind of idealism is the antithesis of actual thought. It's the triumph of the hunch.

MadisonMan said...

If Mr. Lindgren now references this post and then you reference it, making it a post about a post about a post about a post about post, the blogging world will collapse to a singularity and google will cease to exist.

perry masonmint said...

But the best blog readers ...

That's one of the most astoundingly stupid coinages in history. Like there's some kind of skill involved in reading a blog? Way to suck up to your regulars, Ann.

For some reason a song is coming to mind...."Stroke me, stroke me...."

Bissage said...

I’m not a good enough thinker or writer to explain my affection for Althouse and so many of her commenters.

So what I just typed out will have to suffice.

But for sure I can say this much: the “thinking in real time” aspect is just part of it.

Thank you for everything.

Paddy O. said...

Like there's some kind of skill involved in reading a blog?

Ha, ha! It's funny when people accuse others of being astoundingly stupid as they display their own limitations.

Of course there is a skill to blog reading, just as there are skills to reading. Reading words is a fairly basic skill, but good readers are able to see more, understand more, provoke more. They can see holes in arguments, follow complex reasoning, enjoy the sheer craft of writing. Good readers are able to do more with a given text.

It's like being a good listener. People who can understand, absorb, process and respond are better readers. You know, being able to observe and understand what they are reading about.

That seems pretty obvious. Bad readers tend to miss points and fly off into their preconceived thesis, often employing hyperbole because they lack the associated skill of expressive writing.

SteveR said...

I appreciate the style, and the chance to think about what I am reading. I am also entertained by the commenters who don't get it, seemingly frustrated that you aren't always writing an Op Ed.

Ann Althouse said...

Good reading also involves choosing what to read. And when you read on line, you're navigating in a sea of choices. All I'm saying is that those who come to Althouse are doing an excellent job.

And I love you too, Bissage.

William said...

One tunes into a favorite sitcom to watch familiar characters behave predictably in unpredictable situations. There's something of a sitcom about Ann's blog. Some of the bloggers are quite funny but always remain in character. I don't yet know all the characters but it seems that there is a finite number. In the infinity of the internet this is reassuring.....In the comment section, Ann is an Olympian presence--generally benign and distant but occasionally appearing to toss the odd thunderbolt. The blog itself is a kind of a crank letter to the world. It's fun to observe the multiplicities and contradictions within a single person.

chuck b. said...

"to experience thinking in real time"

Problematic when done by certain bloggers tho', isn't it?

Bissage said...

Awww . . . s h u c k s.

1970_baby said...

Ann's blog is the modern day salon.

Dostoevsky's depictions of the protagonist in the salon, experiencing humiliation at the hands of smarter and unkind folk, happen today at the keyboard.

We are so lucky to live in an age where there can never be a memory hole ever again, anymore.

I believed that capital punishment was A-OK until my Philosophy 101 professor made us write a paper supporting our position, and I set out to do it and couldn't. Everyone should be tested that way!

Shawn Levasseur said...

"Unfortunately, I find that many blog readers prefer strongly thesis-driven posts, which they can either echo or attack point by point."

"Many... perhaps. But the best blog readers — and radio listeners — are the ones who want to experience thinking in real time."


I noticed a similar contrast in opinions to the movie My Kid Could Paint That" at a showing at a local theater that was followed by an audience discussion of the documentary.

I, and others in the group, found the admission of the documentarian's on screen confession that he doesn't know which story is true, very refreshing.

But one person said it was completely disingenuous, that the documentarian should have pushed harder to find the truth and taken a position (never mind the subject was a little girl, and such investigative techniques would be akin to paparazzi stalking).

I found this attitude strange and incomprehensible. After reading this post however, I'm beginning to understand, as that guy wanted a thesis-based documentary, especially since very few documentaries are put into release without a firm opinion on the subject in the film.

I still don't know how the documentary director's confusion could be considered "disingenuous." I can only assume that he'd never seen Rashomon.

hdhouse said...

KLDAVIS said...
" What I enjoy about the style you both share is the spontaneity."

Ann doesn't lie. What do they share exactly?