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What Are The Best Topics for a Blogger?

For some reason, I am thinking about the rules for "good blogging." Which topics are worth discussing in a public forum? Consider a single example of how important this can be: imagine how much improvement you could get in movies, plays, and novels if the writers would decide that adultery and love triangles are topics that have been beaten to death, and should be allowed to rest for a couple centuries.

As usual when embarking on any issue, progress is most rapid when we invoke Horace's "fleeing vice is the beginning of virtue." First, bloggers should abandon their mundane and picayune "practical" details.

Yes I know, there are readers who think that practical minutiae does them more good than arguments and opinions. But what if we are careful about the method of opining? Rather than shoving pre-packaged opinions down the readers' eyeballs, what if we invite the reader along as we develop an opinion, all beginning with concrete observations?

Let's start by modestly asking how many of "our" opinions are just hand-me-down prejudices and hearsay about abstractions and slogans? These are things that the opinion-monger has no concrete experience with.

I am suggesting a method of developing opinions that lends itself to an allegory. Perhaps it was on the jacket of a book long ago that I saw a drawing of a sculpture that affected me deeply. A marble column came out of the ground, looking more like a geological outcropping than a sculpture. As the eye moves upwards, it starts to see artificial cracks and flutes. Obviously it is taking "form", but you are not exactly sure of what. Then it starts to look like two blocky human legs. Upward your eyes go, to musculature and clothing. And then to the face and eyes, with all their nuances of expression. How perfectly this upward evolution of the sculpture describes the development of a blog post!

This subject is similar to one discussed in a classic essay by Montaigne, "On Experience." 
Men do not know the natural disease of the mind; it does nothing but ferret and inquire , and is eternally wheeling, juggling, and perplexing itself like silkworms, and then suffocates itself in its work...

It thinks it discovers at a great distance, I know not what glimpses of light and imaginary truth: but whilst running to it, so many difficulties, hindrances, and new inquisitions cross it, that it loses its way, and is made drunk with the motion...

...the frequent amorous glances they cast upon their [own] work witness that their hearts pant with self-love, and that even the disdainful severity wherewith they scourge them are but the dandlings and caressings of maternal love;
for as much as, in my opinion, of the most ordinary, common, and known things, could we but find out their light, the greatest miracles of nature might be formed, and the most wonderful examples, especially upon the subject of human actions.
Let us walk about as the ancient philosophical school of the Peripatetics did, and stumble upon provocative observations, while keeping our feet on the ground as we try to explain them. But our thinking should proceed as the sculpture proceeds upward. We come to see our observation as an individual member of a category. Then we see the observation as the expression of an Idea and the embodiment of a Principle.

It would be good to stop at the head of the sculpture. Let's not go spiriting off into the fluffy stuff of metaphysical clouds. We have probably already made enough mistakes in one essay, and more thinking won't correct those mistakes. Let it rest. Go out into the desert again tomorrow and look for another oddity to explain.


XXXXX said…
Good post. I would have responded sooner but I was out of town and didn't bother to find wifi.
I appreciate stepping back from the opinions and judgments that seem to be a natural state of the human mind and instead trying to observe this spontaneous process in a more distant, neutral fashion. I like the parallel you presented with the column slowly emerging and taking form. This surely explains an intelligent mind. However, I don't think there is one "idea" that must necessarily emerge as THEE correct idea and that our purpose is to find this Idea together. You seem to be hinting that the goal of blogging is somehow to get to this Idea and you seem to be questioning how best to do so. I don't think there needs to be this agenda, i.e.,, finding the idea. And, in fact, using this as a measure of success misses the boat. I rather just like sharing the observations, being interested in each others' observations and allowing each person to make whatever meaning, i.e., "Idea" they wish to.
I think humans are great meaning makers. It is big in our lives; it gives us purpose. But meaning, truthfully, can vary considerably. In fact, every single person has their own individual twang to any meaning. Rarely do two people agree in every aspect and, if they do, one wonders eventually about something else going on, such as a need to collude for emotional reasons.
As I said, this is a good post. I personally enjoy your musings most when you present this sort of thing......identifying with what can be called the human condition rather than expounding on criticisms and judgments, usually negative.
I very much enjoy the state of mind best called observing. Just observing. Gosh, it seems that......., or Jeez, what if........., or have you ever.......... And the joy in this is the sharing with another in what has the potential to be a truly mind-expanding experience with everyone who participates having equal importance and value to the discussion.

Just writing about observations is certainly more diplomatic than developing an observation into an opinion. Invariably, the opinion will offend somebody.

But wouldn't you find it too unambitious? And we don't have interesting observations every day.

Perhaps an observation is only "interesting" if it seems to beg for an explanation or if it seems to belie an already-held opinion in the observer's mind.

I suppose the best style of blogging would start off with an observation, start developing it into an explanation ("opinion" if you will), and then back off to let the reader finish develop the rest of it himself.
George, since Yuma is a big agricultural area, I can't resist the analogy between Growing Food and Writing a Blog Post. Of course the process starts with growing something in the ground. But it doesn't end there. There is a lot more involved in developing it into a meal on your plate.

Would you really want to revert to being a simply "grazer" in an agricultural field, picking stuff WHEN it is available a few days per year, eating it raw, with no cleaning, chopping, removal of inedible parts, transportation, packaging, or refrigeration? And no interesting combinations with other foodstuffs?
XXXXX said…
I think we do have interesting observations everyday but usually our head is in a spin and we fail to notice. We are so quick to jump to opinion and then to argue and debate our opinions like two bucks who end up just locking horns.
Your reference to agriculture tipped off my appreciation for a particular movie scene. Since you love movies and often refer to various scenes for the analogy/metaphor hidden within, I refer you to one of my all time favorite scenes:
Ignore for a moment, the romantic element and realize that they are not just talking about wine but themselves, their hopes, their longings, etc.
It also speaks to why love relationships will always be present in every moment of every decade and will never go away. For with the potential intimacy, both emotional and physical, comes an invitation, beautiful as it is, for another to care about the deepest stirrings within another.....what starts it all and makes us tick, each in our own unique way. So often difficult to put into words, but which are so telling of who we really are.
One can debate pinot or chardonnay or whatever, etc. without locking horns and instead talking about the observations regarding each, as this movie clip so beautifully demonstrates. The romantic part of this clip is secondary to the real point, in my opinion.
Granted, some people are not interested. They prefer to stick to the opinions and argue and debate. Some even enjoy locking horns. But, as I said, for me, I enjoy your postings which lean toward observing the human condition and giving words to it, observations one might say. Each to their own.
XXXXX said…
Don't get me wrong. In spite of what I just wrote, there are some ideas I am quite willing to fight for and even die for. Democracy is one. In spite of its problems and its many abuses, it beats everything else out there that has ever been tried. Except perhaps for a benevolent dictatorship but that's dangerous. Power corrupts.
Ed said…
I'm not so sure that it is possible to just observe and not have an opinion about what you have observed. Even less possible to tell someone about what you have observed and not have your opinion influence what is said or what the other person hears.

It is just me, and my opinion of course, but what George describes in his last paragraph sound so sterile and meaningless. The sort of conversation that would happen at a cocktail party where everyone is on their VERY best behavior and trying SO hard to be politically correct. I sort of prefer the kind of conversations that you get involved in at a slightly seedy bar - but that is just me.
XXXXX said…
I appreciate Ed's input. In a way, perhaps this conversation actually demonstrates what you mean, KB. We have, in a sense, reached the head of the sculpture. And tomorrow, as you say, is another day.
X said…
You Guys are all rookies. No one cares.
What makes a good post? What readers care about. Your audience is paramount. After all you are all just entertainers.
Rvsueand her crew are kicking your ass. Hundreds of comments per post. Look no further.
I went to the vimeo site and recognized the scene from that movie. I agree that one could laugh off the romantic part of that scene and yet remember it as one of the great speeches in the history of the movies. There is hardly ever any moving or intelligent dialogue in movies.
Ed said…
If I understand you correctly a blog topic is measured by the number of Comments that a posting written on that topic receives. If a large number of readers Comment then that topic is cared about and is a good post. So, anything that is written that receives a large number of Comments is a good topic and anything that receives more is an even better topic?

When you say "You Guys are all rookies. No one cares. After all you are all just entertainers." I assume you are speaking about kaBLOOnie boonster, George and myself. I will not speak for anyone other than myself but I don't consider what I write to be entertaining. If you do then I have accomplished far more than I ever intended.

I also read RVSueand crew and read most of the Comments. During this past year I have been skipping over more and more of the Comments because that section of her blog turns into a Chat Room at times and I don't Chat. Her blog and this one are as different as two people or two blogs could be. You can like them both and need not disparage either - at least I have found that to be true.
John V said…
Without even looking at the link I would guess George id talking about the hot tub scene from the movie Sidewaays.
John V said…
I suppose you're comment is valid if it's all just a high school popularity contest. Unless you're trying to get some revenue from a blog or have a fragile ego, who cares how many hits you get? The formula to get a lot of hits is is ridiculously simple. Some people just like to write for their own pleasure and to let a small group of friends and family know what they're up to. The most popular RV blogs seem to be about mind-numbingly mundane topics (what we ate today, where we walked today, what chores we did, and on and on) with some pretty pictures of people sitting around at happy hour. The "hundreds of comments" tend to be similarly useless (oh what pretty pictures!, good for you guys!, wow!, and on and on). And God forbid you say anything that someone might disaagree with. Then they might not like you anymore. Oh the horror! Another blog "kicking your ass"? C'mon man, who really cares?
Andrew, don't be frightened off by any blood being spilled. We are a bit like dogs at a dog park, waiting for the "fresh meat" to come through the gate. It's all in good fun. Seriously.
Ed, am I mis-reading George? Does he expect a saw to look at a wooden board, and think, "Gee that's nice. Let it be. "

The whole purpose of the saw is to grab that wooden board and starting ripping and crosscutting, with the blade screaming, and sawdust flying all over the place.
XXXXX said…
If anyone considered my comments entertaining, I would consider myself a failure.
Yep, John V. shoots from the hip and never misses.
X said…

No problem! Ready to rumble as always. Don't take any of it personally and appreciate the trash talking. Like saying 'Hello' on Long Island where I'm from. Thanks for your gracious reply to my somewhat asinine and obnoxious post.

John V - totally hear you. Yup, depends on what you call a successful blog. For you and friends or for the masses and your bank account. Completely different models. If for you and friends then indeed 'who cares' really means 'who cares!'. For me and friends - no interest in a wide audience or in monetizing visitors. We say what interests us and discuss.

Anyway don't quite know where I'm going with this. Good Monday to everyone.