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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Keep On Converging

Maria Benet provides some penetrating insight into what makes blogging and the blogosphere so special. For me, it’s like a little whack on the side of the head from a Zen master. And the timing is ideal, given my struggles with blogging of late.

Her excellent analysis casts a fresh light on this fascinating space that we're stitching together, post by post, out here in Cyberia. She’s put her finger on what may be the primary force that compels me to blog, even as I struggle with the question of whether I'm running out of steam.

That force is not "self-expression." If it were, I would just try to write poetry or stories or something. And I would be a big flop. It would be a colossal waste of my energy.

But what I can do, and what others like me who are not gifted artists can do--and have it be a useful outlet of our energies--is to be co-participants in this new space that Maria likens to an agora. We can be--and are being--its co-creators, and out of this comes--not self-expression--but self-creation, a perfect example of which is a new and re-invented Maria-the-Traveler (she claims to have been something of an agoraphobic before blogging).

Maria uses the metaphor of the agora, and an apt one it is. A sampling:

whenever I turn on my computer, knowing that soon I’ll be in the very center of that “convergence of paths” that is the virtual agora of the blogosphere, [it] puts me smack dab in the center of a world populated by people whose relations to their worlds shape both place and space.

The blogosphere is not an escape from the world. Far from it. As any good and lively mythical agora worth its utterances in meaning, the blogosphere, too, depends on a constant exchange of stories -- on movement. We come to the market to trade stories. We leave enriched by knowing that the vast space beyond the shapes of the place in which we feel “safe” enough to move about, has features and is populated by others who speak our language. . . . .

. . . What Baron Hausmann rendered asunder when he cut up the agora with his boulevards, Tim Berners-Lee put together when he set about to weave a web of texts.


The "convergence of paths" that Maria calls the "virtual agora of the blogosphere,” is a cauldron in which stews a heady broth, and from which new entities and new spaces can and do arise. If I quit blogging, I lose my entrance to this convergence. So I struggle onward.

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