Saturday, August 05, 2006

The View from My Cloister


Via Instapundit, believe it or not - to THIS post concerning the Libertarian perspective on the Iraq situation

Henry at Crooked Timber challenges me to provide more background on why the fiasco in Iraq is another instance of government failure. I do so in the comments to his post and expand somewhat here.
An interesting post, and you should read it, but I really had little to say other than to nod in approval that such sensible things are as yet being written, while being saddened at the necessity for them to be said. So, rather than add to my ennui I looked to the navigation bar and found this - another question I would be interested in hearing from others about.

Marginal Revolution asks a simple question: Does blogging improve our lives?

I'm not talking about BlogAds revenue or better chances to write Op-Eds. I mean our lives. Ben Casnocha writes:

...I recently had a great solo dinner in Rome. I had a terrific companion (newspaper) and good food. About 1/4 of the way through this thought crossed my mind: "This is an awesome meal. I'm going to blog it." I did. I was committed in my mind to making it a positive night overall, and it did end up that way. In sum: when I know I'm going to blog an experience, I'm committed to making it a positive experience, and since intention and reaction mostly define the quality of an experience, it usually turns out positive. True, I could always commit to having positive days each day, but knowing I will blog something introduces a weird form of "public accountability."

Ben is an excellent blogger; here are Ben's impressions of France. Is he right about blogging?

I didn't actually read Ben's impressions of France, much less his positive meal experience - for neither is about why I write, nor about why I read. But there are many other comments, with the general consensus that it is positive - and for as many different reasons as there are bloggers. Here, then, is mine, posted here when it became too long to be a comment.

I write for an audience (often a largely imaginary one) - but mostly I write for myself. And Someday, When I Have Time I Will Write That Important Book... oh, wait, I have!

So, someday when I have time I will merely have to collate it and insert the illustrations.

But that alone is too simple.

I'm one of those people who needs to think aloud in order to make my thoughts coherent - indeed, to see if they are thoughts at all. A lot of my posts never make it out of draft stage; I review it and think, "and your point would be?"

I mean, how often can one point out that Bill O'Reilly is an idiot, unless it serves a larger point? How often must we linger at the spectacle of Ann Coulter? Granted, it's a train-wreck - but it's hardly a fresh one. The crumpled metal is starting to rust, and it's rather hard to argue that either represent anything but their own, largely imaginary audiences.

I blog is because it gives me a sense that it's possible to do something other than despair, drop out or consider joining mass acts of civil disobedience.

And it gives me a reason to read, think and consider various viewpoints. Instead of becoming more radicalized by our political and military situation, I believe that I have become more moderate, if anything.

As a Constitutionalist and a Left - Libertarian, there is much to be angry about, much to feel upset about, and it gives me a positive way of dealing with those feelings, in a way that has a chance of achieving something.

Finally, I have a unique perspective that is only partially my own doing. I can claim credit for how I explore my perspective, but there are few that can claim to be on both the Autistic and Dissociative spectra to the extent that both affect them, and who have explored communications as a means to cope as I have done.

I don't want to seem like I'm complaining, because I'm immensely happy with my life and it's very much enhanced by what has become an avocation of gawking audibly at the seemingly bizarre things "normal" people do. My entire life, it seems, has been consumed by trying discern the thought processes of ordinary folks well enough to predict what may happen next. In doing so, I have explored everything that seems to be spoken and unspoken motivation, from preachers to pornography and while I've learned a great deal that illuminated my hindsight, it improved my foresight only to the extent that I could avoid bad outcomes, not so well that I could find good ones to participate in. Whatever my motives and the motives of those around me, understanding did not seem to lead to fitting in.

I finally realized that "fitting in" was going to be the death of me, a different definition of success was in order.

Thanks to the Internet, then the web, and now blogging, I'm able to interact with people in ways that are tolerable and rewarding for me, without making myself and others uncomfortable. In another lifetime, I might well have emulated Julian of Norwich, and retreated to a nice quiet cell for a life of contemplation.

Although my good friend Julia suggests that the famous Anchoress was herself part of the Internet of her day and in part responsible for some of the ferment that led to the Reformation. This was before printing presses became common and the standardization of mail - so all communication was, in fact, "packet switched" with no governing central mechanism.

An interesting observation - and perhaps a reason why the thought of standardising and regulating the mails became compelling to Authorities, even as the thought of regulating the Internet so enthralls them today.

Goddess forbid that People might Get Ideas, much less THINK about them! (And, like Julian - there are times I have appreciated my equivalant of thick stone walls and an approach guarded by a bemused, but proud congregation. )

I've come to realize that it's important to bring the excercise of reason and the understanding of the practical necessity of compassion back into the public square. While I make no claims of being especially more qualified for this - I have noticed the need, and "to complain is to volunteer."

I can think of no better legacy than to be thought of as being responsible in part for a little fermentation myself. Meanwhile, I commend you to my friend Julia Bolton Holloway, who, while on the net, lives as a hermit for reasons perhaps different than mine, but I'm sure no less compelling as my own.

The Godfriends' Websites , about the love of God and neighbour , are constructed as a colour-coded memory system as were medieval manuscripts, Anglo-Saxon materials in alternating reds and greens, later medieval materials in alternating reds and blues, in the latter case like pulsating umbilical cords, of the Word become flesh dwelling in our midst, oliveleaf trauma healing material being in blues and greens . Brown ink signifies a quotation from a manuscript, other text in grey signifying modern commentary. A hierarchy of scripts is used with large capitals for websites, smaller capitals for their subsets, in the titles to essays. Rather than modern technology, with counters, java, flags, we shall use an ancient simplicity in words and images, from the Age of Faith. As did Julian herself. Had she lived in our centuries, Julian would have used the Internet so. This Website, like Julian's Benedictinism , is intentionally a school of learning , a school for contemplation ; yet, like Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love , it is for everyone, wherever you may be in the world, poor or rich, crippled or whole, lay or cleric, children, women, men. As Ritamary Bradley wrote in Julian's Way : A Practical Commentary on Julian of Norwich (London: Harper Collins, 1992), we are about not only the theory, but also the practice, of Julian of Norwich's Showing of Love, in all its kaleidoscopic aspects, like dew upon cobwebs sparkling amidst mist, like the Gothic traceries of Julian's Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Norwich. Like Julian, this webmistress lives as a hermit in a graveyard, though in Florence rather than Norwich.


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