Home/Daniel Larison/Does Blogging Make Me Pessimistic, Or Does My Pessimism Make Me Blog?

Does Blogging Make Me Pessimistic, Or Does My Pessimism Make Me Blog?

There are few activities in life that can be said to be more futile than blogging.  What, after all, does it do, except provide a forum for people with nothing better to do than to give a lecture on the virtues of pessimism to other people with nothing better to do than respond in kind?  We can futilely mock each other in very serious ways, and then pat ourselves on the back that we have made our respective points, having probably changed no one’s mind and exhausted part of an afternoon or evening that would have been better spent in almost any other way.  I could be reading more of my book on pessimism rather than writing this post.  It’s all very discouraging. 

There are no more fleeting accomplishments than writing “posts,” which sometimes lack in themselves even the completion accorded to more complete articles or essays.  As an entirely electronic medium, a blog is as ephemeral as can be and entire years of work could be eliminated in some sort of horrendous server crash.  Most blogging is of a topical and derivative nature (thus you have a response to someone else’s reaction to another person’s article on a press conference about a policy initiative), as sickeningly post-modern as you could want and as time-bound an activity as man can imagine.  Worse, only the inside jokes of sci-fi geeks can compare with the ultimate irrelevance that most blog posts enjoy (it is no surprise that many a sci-fi geek also happens to blog and more and more of the blogging at The Corner, for example, seems preoccupied with the latest trivia from the world of sci-fi).  Perhaps both benefit from their common unreality–one is a product of fictional stories, the other is an entire medium at a remove from the real world and one step closer to the fantasies of science fiction.     

Not only is online writing fleeting and impermanent, as well as remarkable for how little impact it has on anyone, but most blogging is of such a trivial nature that it would likely make schoolgirls with their diaries feel contemptuous of the light-weight, meaningless banter that goes on on many sites (that a great many blogs are actually just electronic versions of the schoolgirls’ diaries only confirms this–what is depressing in a way is how little difference there often is between those diaries and the prattling nonsense that passes for most political blogging, from which, of course, the author must obviously be excepted).  I’m sure someone has made similar observations somewhere (and if I spent enough time using Google Blogsearch, I could find the reference!), but blogging is the ideal cultural expression of an age of no authorities and no meaning.  The new authority might be this: I blog, therefore I have authority.     

It is perhaps doubly ironic that a proponent of eunomia should then be blogging at all, since I assume that there are things of permanent value and permanent meaning, though I am typically opposed to all modern progress-laden accounts of purpose and meaning in life.  But on the other hand, I believe that I am giving voice to some of the much neglected ideas of reactionaries of ages past and working, in however limited a fashion, to dismantling the pretensions of every kind of progressive, not unlike Dienstag’s own reappraisal of pessimism in Pessimism.  Whether it will have any lasting value is uncertain, and it would be entirely out of character–and quite inappropriate for this post–for me to be optimistic about that.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles