The personal on the blog

Is it too meta to try to figure out how personal I ought to be on this -- or more meta to try to share my figuring it out in the process? This has always been my resistance to blogging more generally (I once even titled an unfinished project "solipsistic, navel-gazing, and self-reflection" in an attempt to remind myself how absurd the whole process was). But here, in particular, I've worked to keep up a modicum of anonymity. Most who read this are people who know me, and therefore, I do censor myself somewhat. Though the truth is, most who read this, who also know me, are people with whom I'm close and to whom I would say all this and more.

But...occasionally, I share the site with someone who may indirectly be mentioned or criticized, and then I freak out about how my (solipsistic and navel-gazing) comments will be interpreted. (I try only to write nice things, and genuine things, for that matter, about people directly, thinly veiled with acronyms and nicknames.) And lately, because I'm a lazy-ass researcher, I've not been writing about my work directly at all (that is because I have not been working in the fieldworky sense of the word).

So, there has been a fair amount of "personal" stuff on here, even though sometimes it's a bit cryptic, it's not that hard to decipher. I realized I'm a bit relieved that my father never bothers to read this, though I'm sure he would not be terribly disturbed to read about his daughter's "abstinence and diaphragm" contradictions, it still feels a bit unsettling to publicly proclaim this purported birth control method. (Do note the "purported" -- since I've obviously been committed to medical flouting.) It's also weird to announce such things in a public forum. Part of the advice of the writing intensive summer institute I just finished was to put yourself back into the work. It's true that much academic writing is dry and distant. I'm grateful that anthropology allows for the personal, but it's also such a fine line between the personal and oversharing. And fieldwork is not about "you" -- though it's hard sometimes to figure out where "you -- the researcher" and "you -- the human being" begin and end.

I guess this is part of why the blog format appeals to me. It allows me to play a little more with the boundaries, so that there can be "me the human being" a bit more in my work. My work is personal...I think no matter what I do, I will always want to be doing something that has significance to me. I don't really understand the friends and acquaintances whose jobs are just time-fillers. I do understand the allure of good money (sigh), but I know of a number of people who sound like they're just keeping on keeping on. They complain about being boring and they let their jobs get them in terrible moods. I suppose I ought to be more sympathetic.

Still, I'm not sure about what it is I'm trying to accomplish here. I think the August goal will be to document a bit more the process as I careen into the remaining quarter of fieldwork, as it's something I need to do in the non-virtual world, as well. Or maybe I'll just start logging my progress of being allowed to run again. Or my bike itineraries. Or something equally dull -- thereby losing my mini-readership. Perhaps I ought to start a poll -- what should misanthrope hate next?! Maybe I'm not actualizing the populist potential of blogging sufficiently.

1 comment:

Monday said...

RE: the personal in academic writing.

Be careful. We've discussed Mary Roach at length, and the "problem" with the book - at least the book as a "serious" account of the world of sexology as opposed to, say, great cocktail anecdotes (which it is) - seems to be its investment in personality - its quirky tone, its self-adulation . . . you know what I'm talking about. Also: Jane Gallop.