YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

April 26, 2014

The State of the Blog/Irreconcilable Conflicts

Deviant Art

Deviant Art

In the month of April, the Yankee Doodle Society website saw an unexpected drop in visitors. The numbers are still good, especially given the amount of competition in the blogosphere. To date (since the summer of 2009 when the Obama administration introduced much drama into the political culture) there have been 366,029 views, a number that always astounds my family and acquaintances.

But given the cultural emergency we find ourselves in, I am disappointed and dissatisfied, especially since I have shortened the blogs to reach an audience that is distracted and possibly frantic regarding the future of our ostensible representative republic, a condition I have represented as proto-fascist. The rest of this blog speculates about the many causes for the April drop. I cannot know, on my own, why I get between 150-250 views/day, compared to the prior record of between 250-350/day. What follows amounts to a meditation regarding the state of our political culture and my own persona as a kind of Nanki-Poo (“A wandering minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches….” For a recent rendition see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN6S8g1QrqU.)

First, like the masked Nanki-Poo, I am a misfit, a representation of the “uncanny” or “unheimlich.” Most of us crave for some stable group affiliation. My insistence on irreconcilable conflicts, both internal and external, contradicts the “moderate” tone of much public discourse. Such blogs as “The Illusion of National Unity” may make some of us squirm (https://clarespark.com/2013/09/17/the-illusion-of-national-unity/), especially as we are taught to respond to identification with “the American people.” True, there are the rulers and the ruled, but the entire discourse of the organic conservatives (i.e., social democrats and various Burkean rightists) offends my sense of reality. As a materialist sharply opposed to mystical bonds, I see disunity within myself, within most families, and certainly within the various ideologies of modern politics: who can readily distinguish between communists and social democrats, or between “ultra-conservatives” and “compassionate conservatives”? Are the dreaded “neocons” easily classified, or do they vacillate? (I am one of them, or so some believe.) I would rather see myself as a striving scholar, living with only provisional judgments and very curious about those archives that remain outrageously sealed to the public.

More than “unity” (a rarely achieved perfect meeting of minds), I value the creative imagination that sees through the “harmony” imposed by the State and by other institutions pushing groupiness (my word) as the route to “social stability” and “cohesion.”

Second, my most popular blogs seem to appeal to those using the internet to vent their intense dislike of POTUS. How many are given to paranoid conspiracy theories, I cannot tell.

Third, when I post my blogs on academic websites, I find that my numbers diminish as readers get to know me. The research or opinions I post often contradict the current line that keeps academics in line and predictable to their employers. One would think that academic readers would value an open mind and be willing to revise their past judgments, but apparently not.

Fourth, I am an unreconstructed feminist; I see the battle of the sexes as interminable and permanent. Men and women are put together differently, which is fine with me, and so are gays. But I cannot go along with conservative nostrums that imagine father-led families as the solution to poverty and crime. Nor do I gasp that American culture has been “feminized” as do the masculinists. The more both genders move toward androgyny, the better. Girls will stand up for themselves and accept leadership roles, while more “sensitive” men might become less patient with subordination to abusive superiors in the various hierarchies that help them defend the nation and/or earn a living.

wanderingminstrel

Fifth, I am quite certain that the culture wars are not only a waste of time, but defy the cultural pluralism for which we supposedly strive. We should be putting more focus on the schools, on the regressive direction of teachers unions, and asking more of our schools, especially in the teaching of critical thought, contrasting theories of economic growth, science, and competing narratives for how we got to the current state of fragmentation and polarization—not only between political parties and “races,” but between rural/small town inhabitants and the large cities.

Sixth, and perhaps most important, I live with ambiguity regarding such basic contradictions as objectivity vs. radical subjectivism, or free will versus determinism. Part of growing sadder and wiser is this ability to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. Most people seem to want unchanging rules and hence relief from doubt, including self-doubt.

Some may see this blog as a tiresome kvetch; perhaps it is. But I am grateful for those thoughtful and courageous readers who have stuck with me. Some are on Facebook, but others come from parts unknown. There seem to be fewer and fewer sadomasochists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis than was the case when I started the blog—surely a cause for celebration.

Picasso seated Pierrot, 1918

Picasso seated Pierrot, 1918

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8 Comments »

  1. I’m happy to make a clean break with your idea that authoritarianism is the root of all evil and that, therefore, the more androgyny the better. Such thinking has led to many kinds of destructive and tyrannical cults and policies.

    Comment by Mark Leavenworth — April 28, 2014 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  2. Not sure I’m one of the “loyal” readers, but when I visit, I do find your commentary and scholarship challenging and enlightening and not always in ways I want to be led. Yikes! Your toleration of ambiguity and uncertainty is a parallel to my own, and I’m under no illusions about that changing no matter what I learn tomorrow. That said, we define ourselves (and are defined) by our actions. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” always seemed to me to be good advice. I was recently reading “Tiger” by John Vaillant. and a passage struck me as true. To paraphrase; uneducated folk suffer less psychological trauma because they tend to lack a language for subtle self-examination, and end up with a simple stoicism in the absence of either a voice or even an awareness of the finer motions of the soul. Liberally educated folk, on the other hand, can get pulled into our ever-finer splitting. Our love of language and resulting facility gives and takes in equal measure.
    Is it possible that favoring androgyny works against the goal of recognizing the inherent value of each of us by preferring a constricting sex role monism rather than a vibrant plurality? And despite its positive historical influence, feminism has always seemed to me to be just another brand of sexism. Yes, I’ve read into it a ways, but even the explanations about egalitarianism by equity feminists seemed an evasive justification. I’d rather if someone professed a feminist view to just come out and lay claim to superiority. Then we can get on with living together with the cards on the table. I like to tell a joke about the power dynamic in my own marriage: “When we were first married, my wife and I decided together that since I am the man, I’ll make the big decisions and she will make the little day to day ones.. . . . it’s been 34 years now, and I still haven’t had a big decision . . . but I’m ready!” Ambiguity, while lacking the comfort of the absolute, does seem to me to be the place I’ve been sentenced to live if only to do so in good conscience. So please continue as you are able. I think we have a loosely kindred zeitgeist, and I’m always looking to be properly corrected when mine fails.

    Comment by Terbreugghen — April 27, 2014 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  3. And a State of The Reader Comment.
    I discovered this website as a place which often discussed topics I thought I alone was interested in. I continue to learn I was delighted to discover that Melville read James Thomson and you sometimes I have cause to rethink: perhaps Freud is not such the dead letter that I’d come to believe him to be.
    We have many differences, but I continue to enjoy my visits and usually read every post at least twice, so I suppose my hits count double.

    Comment by William Saunders — April 27, 2014 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  4. Yours is the only blog that I have time for . Between working in the garage , the expanding rose garden and talking to my two small dogs , I keep very busy .
    If, I had a complaint, it would be that some of your blogs are too short with redirects to past blogs . If I followed the different paths I would end up spending hours on the computer and I can only justify hours spent on ebay .
    I would like to comment on one thing that you said . ‘ True , there are the rulers and the ruled ‘. I understand that there are always those who want to be in charge , that they naturally want their power to expand and continue to grow . In most cases they are destructive to a healthy society and healthy individuals .
    As an aside . Once many years ago while engaged in some mundane task with my father in law he said something to me and he read the look on my face and said ‘ someone has to be in charge ‘ . From that point on , he did not exist . He saw himself as ‘ the manager’ and me as’ the worker ‘ instead of two guys just trying to get something done . I was married to his daughter – didn’t need two bosses .
    There are very common , ruthless, individuals all over the world who want to be rulers . We don’t have to look very far to see them . I hope that I never feel ‘ruled’ but I suspect that most people don’t care one way or the other .

    Comment by Sleeper — April 27, 2014 @ 5:48 am | Reply

  5. Clare;
    I visit your site regularly and enjoy it thoroughly. Your words and thoughts would surely be missed in this world. I hope you continue to educate the willing and enlighten those who are inquisitive.

    Yahathei

    Comment by Yahtahei (@Yahtahei) — April 27, 2014 @ 1:58 am | Reply

  6. When the bolshevik-minded gurus of political correctness dominate it’s always dangerous times… Those who remember Emma Goldman’s, Paul Levi’s and Angela Balabanoff’s utter isolation after they dared criticize the fascist methods of the bolshevik dictatorship in the early ’20s, you’ll feel better about not saying what everybody says…
    If even a complete schmuck (sorry but I forgot how not to say it in French…without mentioning the name of the 37th President of the USA) like Bill Maher gets it, there’s hope… 😉
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/26/bill-maher-hammers-political-correctness-nazis-in-scathing-rant-aimed-at-his-fellow-liberals/

    Comment by HaDaR — April 26, 2014 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  7. I found that “war on women” the Dems are always talking about…
    http://www.tpnn.com/2014/04/24/rich-obama-donor-kicks-girlfriend-117-times-wait-until-you-see-his-sentence/

    Comment by HaDaR — April 26, 2014 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  8. Clare, you are doing good work, and I hope and trust you will keep it up. There surely are a lot of current distractions making us more or less frantic, both as writers and readers. There are plenty of news websites, of all qualities. And far more commentary sites, most undistinguished. You have a unique voice which needs to be out there, and heard by those who will hear.

    Comment by Robert W Franson — April 26, 2014 @ 8:31 pm | Reply


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