Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A week's answer, or none.

With the end of our term, the teaching business has been brisk, and there has been too little time left over for blogging. Yet I have been tinkering with some notes for new material to post here.

Unfortunately, my thinking on some issues seems to ramify and expand until I'm wrestling with a gigantic essay instead of a manageable blog post. Example: I'm writing something on "inclusive language" in church liturgy. (Suffice it here to say, I have some doubts.) To do the subject justice, I should fairly explain the opposing points of view, connect this to wider "inclusive language" issues in present-day society, defend my own position, and draw what connections I see between this and other trends. Which means we're talking about several thousand words.

So what to do? I can (a) just write it all down, however long it takes, and let the blog wait till it's done; (b) abandon the topic for something easier; (c) set the topic aside for a while and wait for my thoughts to gel more firmly; (d) chop the essay up into several independent entries, which could be posted seriatim as completed; or (e) try to condense and simplify my opinions into a few paragraphs and put it out there anyhow.

(To be fair, there is also option (f), to blog about my difficulties blogging. This would be a cop-out, and probably narcissistic to boot -- like poems about writing poetry, movies about movie-making, novels about the travails of novelists, etc. Boy, I hate stuff like that. Heaven forbid that I should descend so far.)

Part of my problem is that I scarcely know where to begin. Like anyone else, I hold various principles and beliefs about the world. Mine seem to differ at a great many fundamental points from those I encounter every day. So when I try to say what I really want to say, I find myself working backward, splashing upstream to find and explain the far-off sources of my point of view, so that what I say will not seem simply arbitrary and thoughtless. That's hard work and sometimes a long journey.

Near the end of The Lord of the Rings, Samwise has returned with the others to the Shire, to find things much altered and not at all improved in their absence. (This chapter, "The Scouring of the Shire", was left out of the movie -- probably a good cinematic choice, but a real loss nonetheless.) Sam goes off to pay a quick call on Rosie Cotton.
"Well, be off with you!" said Rosie. "If you've been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?"
This was too much for Sam. It needed a week's answer, or none.
That's how I feel about half the time. A week's answer, or none. All to often, I find myself settling for none.


Blogger Joe said...

I'm about ready to say that I'll forward you all my half-written fragments of essays, you can forward me yours, and we'll finish them with editorial ruthlessness and post them.

5:18 PM  

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