The role of the comments, that is something that cannot easily be described. Furthermore I believe that the effects of this social relationship are still being understood and explored. By this I mean to say that the software involved with commenting has been co-opted by the need for privacy and safety. As we know oh so well, the internet is also a place for spamming, hacking, viruses, spyware, and a slew of other variants of annoying digital assaults. But of course with every new form of interaction comes a new form of harassment and we are still very much in the first stages of regulating that harassment. So what ever I say or suggest here can and probably will change drastically depending on how the regulations regarding commenting change.
But at its foundation the role of comments are for the readers to make the writer aware of the readership, but even further to join the discussion. This is most important for it comes from Adorno himself that the idea of an essay or rather any written piece should not be conclusive but rather it should represent a larger discussion, a larger interaction where ideas and opinions are exchanged. An essay in its “critical theory” form should exist just like a blog, something that does not end where it starts and further more poses more questions than answers. Even with the now traditional (weird to call something that only started ten years ago traditional) form of blogging, that of an online journal, we see a discussion evolve through the relationship between the blogger and the responses he/she receives. The responders become writers as well and the final product becomes the collaboration. The surrealists and in particular Andre Breton would be hard pressed to identify this with what they did because of one small yet significant detail, each contribution is based off the last or rather the interaction between the previous contributions, where as in surrealism each piece of the exquisite corpses where done independent and then combined. So this in it of itself should not simply be called an off shoot of an old movement, no, it is utterly different.
The biggest different and probably what makes it most unique one might argue is that there are no rules or regulations to this interaction. In its creation one could say whatever they wanted in response and the blogger could choose to incorporate it or not into what they then created, but regardless of how obvious the interaction is, it still is. And further more despite the fact that we have created regulatory software to diffuse negativity and harassment from being a part of our online artistic creations they still have an influence, perhaps in their rejection or maybe in there absences. We have to remember that modernism has shown us that art is as much about what isn’t there as it is about what is there.
There is much more to say but I must go to class.