A Blogger Reflects on Blogging

Dec 07, 2009
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A noted blogger tells us what influences his blog EastSouthWestNorth


This blogger does not believe that it is possible to come with a blogger's manual about why or how to blog. Such a manual would be suffocating. Why would one willingly put a straitjacket on oneself? The Internet wants to be “free” and that does not refer just to money.

I frequently come across many different things that reflect my blogging life. I usually note the analogies, smile and move on. But I thought that it would be a good thing to note these things down. At least, it will allow people to understand what influences me.

The first entry comes from the beginning of the essay “Photography: A Little Summa” by Susan Sontag. The topic is photography, but I substituted "photography" with "blogging" when I read it, and found it consistent with my personal approach to blogging, especially the fourth and fifth points.

1. Photography is, first of all, a way of seeing. It is not seeing itself.

2. It is the ineluctably "modern" way of seeing prejudiced in favour of projects of discovery and innovation.

4. The modern way of seeing is to see in fragments. It is felt that reality is essentially unlimited, and knowledge is open-ended. It follows that all boundaries, all unifying ideas have to be misleading, demagogic; at best, provisional; almost always, in the long run, untrue. To see reality in the light of certain unifying ideas has the undeniable advantage of giving shape and form to our experience. But it also denies, so the modern way of seeing instructs us, the infinite variety and complexity of the real. Thereby it represses our energy, indeed our right to remake what we wish to remake -- our society, our selves. What is liberating, we are told, is to notice more and more.

5. In a modern society, images made by cameras are the principal access to realities of which we have no direct experience. And we are expected to receive and to register an unlimited number of images of what we don't directly experience. The camera defines for us what we allow to be "real" -- and it continually pushes forward the boundary of the real. Photographers are particularly admired if they reveal hidden truths about themselves or less than fully reported social conflicts in societies both near and far from where the viewer lives.

6. In the modern way of knowing, there have to be images for something to become "real." Photographs identify events. Photographs confer importance on events and make them memorable. For a war, an atrocity, a pandemic, a so-called natural disaster to become a subject of large concern, it has to reach people through the various systems (from television and the Internet to newspapers and magazines) that diffuse photographic images to millions.

13. Call it knowledge, call it acknowledgement -- of one thing we can be sure, about this distinctively modern way of experiencing anything: the seeing, and the accumulation of fragments of seeing, can never be completed.

The Internet wants to be “free” and that does not refer just to money.

14. There is no final photograph. With respect to the fourth point, this certainly explains my preference for just narrating the facts and skipping the interpretative commentary. In as much as I don't want to be told what to think, my readers do not need me to tell them what they ought to think either. With respect to the fifth point, my domain of interest is China about which much is "less than fully reported. This is what I hope to compensate for as a blogger.


Ronald Soong also blogs at EastSouthWestNorth