Monday, May 07, 2007

Pseuds' corner

The last word about blogging vs old media, for the moment at least, I promise. I was looking for something Adorno said about ukeleles, for some completely different purpose, when I came upon this:

"Pseudo-activity is misguided spontaneity. Misguided, but not accidentally so; because people do have a dim suspicion of how hard it would be to throw off the yoke that weighs upon them. They prefer to be distracted by spurious and illusory activities, by institutionalized vicarious satisfactions, than to face up to the awareness of how little access they have to the possibility of change today. Pseudo-activities are fictions and parodies of the same productivity which society on the one hand incessantly calls for, but on the other holds in check and, as far as the individual is concerned, does not really desire at all."

Now old Theo was talking about DIY, of all things. But I think there's an interesting point to be made about blogging as well. Of course, plumbers and carpenters and electricians and other skilled tradesmen felt threatened by the post-war DIY boom (although they probably recouped any potential losses with the exorbitant rates they could charge for emergency repairs whenever some klutz stuck a rivet through the gas pipe). But I think the reaction of many journalists to blogging is slightly different. They may sneer at it, as a pseudo-activity, as a parody of what they are paid to do. But if they did a bit of soul-searching, and looked at the recycled press releases and witless lifestyle guff with which so many of them lag the cavities of the media (and I must clarify that I'm not casting aspersions on all hacks here), they suddenly realise that what they do is just as much a pseudo-activity as what I'm doing here. Exactly what value do the 3am Girls offer that, say, Billy doesn't?

At least when you pay someone to come round to repair the gas pipe, you get your cooker working again.


patroclus said...

Hee hee - yesterday I came across a quote from Baudelaire from the 1880s, whingeing about how the 'vile multitude' with their newfangled Kodak cameras were spoiling proper art, by enjoying looking at their own amateur photos ('contemplating their own trivial image,' Baudelaire said) instead of at proper works of art.

On a similar note, I found it quite entertaining today to compare AA Gill's claim in the Guardian that 'my opinion is worth more than other people's, with this piece by Clay Shirky from 2003 predicting the imminent demise of the professional restaurant critic.

In reality I suspect that both of them are half right. High art survived the arrival of photography, electricians survived the DIY craze, journalists and critics will survive blogging. We'll always need professionals. But it doesn't mean that amateurs shouldn't be allowed to have a go at things - and if they turn out to be better than some of the professionals, then that's a) A Good Thing and b) the way of the world.

amyonymous said...

you probably know about this but just in case, check this review.

Anonymous said...

Ouch Yeeouch Sigh

Rog said...

Billy's better looking.

Tim F said...

I can well believe that AA Gill's opinion about restaurants is more informed than that of an average Joe, although as he's a recovering alcoholic, I think he's unable to comment on a key aspect of the dining experience, and as he's a dyslexic, I'm not sure that to what extent his credentials as a skilled writer stand up. The question is whether his association with The Tatler and STimes is part of this reputation - would he be as good a critic if he were a blogger?

Thanks, Amy, I hadn't seen that. Jesus, he's 17.

Hello Voice. Been on the Guinness and bitter lemon again?

Indeed he is, Murph.

FirstNations said...

as long as 'they' keep denigrating us, i'll be happy. the last thing in the world i want is the approval of established journalism.
heaven knows, i am in no danger whatsoever of being paid to do this.

Annie said...

as he's a dyslexic, I'm not sure to what extent his credentials as a skilled writer stand up


Billy said...

I'm just like the 3am girls except there's only one of me, I'm a boy and the parties only exist inside my head.

Also I suspect their parties do as well.

Tim F said...

I'd pay good money for your schtick, FN. I still think you should write a book.

Sorry, Annie, that was a bit insensitive, wasn't it? What I meant was, I suspect there are one or two editors who deserve a bit of the credit for buffing up his prose.

Maybe you could invite them to one of your non-existent parties, Billy. Then you'd be virtually famous.