I believe that a blog is literature. As such I further believe that it does not fall under any preexisting genre, style, or form of literature. Thus what I mean to say is that a blog as it exists today represents the emergence of new literature. One that is self-referential, collaborative, autobiographical, fictional, political, critical, visual, and this could continue forever. But what is important is to focus on its creation.
(Historically my thesis right now lacks the factual elements of which blogs came first and what they were originally intended for, something I would love help with.)
In its original popularity a blog was an online diary, a journal of sorts one created and kept up to date in a public realm for others to not just read but to also comment on. This form of exchange existed previously in a very crude sense in journalism with columns, editorials, and letters to the editor. But nothing has existed to the instantaneous and collaborative extent that these online journals did. They have become a part of everyday activity and have thus incorporated everyday activity into their existence. It has been well documented and reported in regards to journalism. Blogs are changing the way we communicate political ideas. It has also had an effect on the literary community in its manipulation of the traditional book review in print. But these are not the facets of the blog’s existence that I want to look at. What interests me is that very core model, that online diary that may be political, may be literary, or just might be a conglomerate of events that may or may not have happened to the potentially anonymous writer.
What has been created here is a response to the overly celebritized world of pop literature. As Ana Vogrincic suggests in her essay “Literary Effects of Author-Stardom” the author has become the focus of societal interest and not the work this author creates. It’s that very commodity culture Benjamin warns us about when dealing with the death of the Aura, we are seeking an aura in the celebrity author. We cannot with blogs. But those who read blogs aren’t looking for it, and the writers aren’t trying to create it. These are not diaries, but they are not fiction either. They are public expressions with the theme of recording, autobiographically, the events of one’s life. It is written for the public and thus is aware of that in its creation, very different from the journal kept by the bedside to record the final thoughts of its master before that master dozes off into dream land. Even this very blog itself is aware that it is seeking to be read, but that is not all it is doing. After all as I write these thoughts I get a better understanding of how they interact and how to make my thesis more concrete. So it does have the effect of improving itself, it gets that from the classic diary, this is simply the reflections of one day’s work on this thesis.
Something else needs to be discussed as well. That of the response, for each post made there is the ability to comment. But before the comments are even posted there is the simple knowledge of an audience. Hosts can now tell us, as they have been able to do for some time now, how many hits our sites have received and thus how frequent our site is visited. This also influences that anonymous writer, who as another argument entirely can choose to stay anonymous or not, and if not they also have the choice of providing their true identity or a fake one, like Huysmans.
I will save a discussion of the comments for the next post.