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January 4, 2007

ritual view of blogging

I'm observing a colleague teaching Cultural Codes of Communication. Homework for the first night included reading James Carey (foundational) and a series of questions, including what might be of interest for students to explore in this course. I've already snatched a quote from the Carey article for teaching this spring (!), and my brain is in high gear concerning my prospectus. Wow. Did I intuit that observing this class would provide some structure and motivation?! :-)

I've also got the blog on my mind. As a mechanism for transmission - it (I) seek to disseminate information, but not really. I've always hoped it would be more dialogic than monologic. It is true that through the blog, I organize certain symbols in a more-or-less personal attempt to impose order on my experiences. Blogging has become - for me - a ritual that positions me to/with the world in a certain way. I've noted several times over the past year or so that a function of writing publicly as I do is to write myself into being. By projecting a certain performance of self, of identity, into the public sphere (invoking accountability among other things), the effect doubles back, enabling me to better live up to the ideals I espouse.

It isn't as simple as that, though. The words I write, the symbols I use, become me - rather, I become the sign of the words (see p. 12, referencing Burke). Carey says, "We first produce the world by symbolic work and then take up residence in the world we have produced" (p. 16).

Finally, I better understand some of the unease about my blogging "real life" (as perceived, experienced, and interpreted by me), because my writing establishes a context which also positions those whom I mention in particular roles or even identities. It may be a matter of establishing a "history of order" on a minute, microsocial scale. For years, colleagues and I have debated the way my blogging "endow[s] significance, order, and meaning in the world by the agency of [my] own intellectual processes" (Carey, 13). We (or at least I) was confused with the positioning of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. into roles relative to "the blog": of being readers, nonreaders, commenters, noncommenters, advocates, and/or adversaries. That was a limited view.

I keep recalling a friend who said, "If I don't read it, it's not there."

I am thinking, at this moment, that much of this kind of framing is with the transmission model of communication uppermost in mind. Surely I am taken with the ability to transmit my words across spacetime. Maybe the tension could be better explained through an overlay of the ritual lens? The transmission model is premised upon control as the goal of communication: control over distance and control over people. I resist the accusation of power-mongering, but ritually....what sharedness is at risk?

Posted by Steph at January 4, 2007 11:24 AM


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