"the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time..." -- Kerouac

Monday, November 28, 2005

Papoulis on "the personal"

My generous and talented colleague Prof. Irene Papoulis offers these observations on the personal nature of blog-writing. (I think they're very apt, especially as we consider, again, that blog-writing seems to involve a sensation of "performance" not present in other kinds of writing.)

I suppose your post today is tongue in cheek. But it makes me think about what personal means. People sometimes think that the only way to be "personal" is to tell stories aboutwhat happened to them or what they're feeling. (Not that I have anything against that--I teach personal-essay writing classes all the time and have thought a lot about the nature of the personal, and about why people, especially academics, denigrate what they scornfully call "confessional," etc.) But one thing that's great about your public self is the apparent honesty and even brazenness you bring to whatever it is you're looking at, including so much that isn't personal in the conventional sense. (I guess some people need to be more like that, some less. You seem to know what it means not to be like that, which gives your brazenness a kind of personal awareness that makes it seem less brazen, and maybe that's part of why it works.) So I'm just writing to say you already are quite personal. Not that your being more autobiographical or confessional on your blog wouldn't be interesting. I'm sure it would.


At 2:52 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

So, does 'personal' equate 'having one's own voice'?

I rarely write about stuff that happen to me every day, i.e., what I would call "personal stuff", yet people always say that my blog is personal. That confuses me.

Is it just that I have a characteristic tone of voice, perhaps unpretentious or honest, so people think they got to know me even through some very academically-voiced posts?

At 5:39 PM, Blogger ericdbernasek said...

Perhaps "personal" is most closely related with "personality"? I'm tempted to say that it's the emotive aspects of one's writing that makes something appear more personal (regardless of whether the content reveals details about day-to-day life, or long kept secrets). You can reveal your "self" in discussing something that is outside the realm of your anecdotal repertoire if you exhibit how it affects your self, or how it helps to shape your personality. At the same time, I hesitate to say it's the emotive apects because a distinct lack of emotion can often be a significant aspect of one's personality.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

LMAO (to the link). I thnk you are right about this. I am looking forward to all your musings on your blogs about this topic.

BTW, are all your final papers going to be posted online? I sure hope so - a corunucopia of smart thinking about blogs, all in one place!

At 3:58 AM, Blogger Holly said...

I have also to agree with Eric - personal need not reveal any matters of national security, so to speak, but the manner in which we write can reveal a lot of who we are as individual people. What we're like / how we react to certain things and what we harbor inside are two different aspects to the personal side of being us.

Details or reactions - both can reveal quite a bit of personal about a person.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Nile said...

Yes, I agree...being "yourself" is not the same thing as being self-revelatory.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Nile said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Wouldn't disagree with you all that the shape & tone of a voice is as personal as (maybe more) firsthand stories the voice might tell. But, so, how are blogs different in conveying the personal than any other expression or art form? Does a stripped down, from-the-gut blogwrite have anything over those last few Johnny Cash recordings?

Maybe. It may be that the blog setting at least offers a more anonymous place (therefore, a place the true voice comes out easier in?) to express. Kind of like how you get that almost supernaturally 'true self' sensation when you wear a mask.

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