Blogger Discourse Legitimacy–Diologism or Repetition?

Blogging may simply be masturbatory for the writer, or head clearing, or egotistical, or a way to network and find common ground with others, or just a waste of time if no one looks at your blog at all.

But there is something intrinsic in the discourse of blogging nonetheless. I would say that the overabundance of blogger voice these days could be characterized by whatBakhtin callsheteroglossia, the cacophony of voices coming from all parts of culture, psyche,et all. These voices conflict, argue, change each other, deflect, and in all of these convergences and ricochets I must consider something. The outcome of blogging, or in other words, how these utterances come into contact with and deflect off of each other put a peculiar skew on howBakhtin envisionsdialogism. Sure, blogs are beneficial, especially when one considers the egalitarian aspects they utilize. The problem lies not in their existence, but in their means, in style versus substance, something that reduces the issue tobrevitas versuscopia.

I am talking about discourse and rhetoric here. Easily understood, comprehended, and mutually understandable utterances, discourse that is coherent and contextual to ones utterance culture almost always trumps discourse that is substantive. Or in other words, discourse that exists outside of a given cultural group’s utterance catalog is hard for this group to understand: duh. People attach themselves to things that they understand much more than to things that may actually matter but that are somewhat beyond them. I would say that the thing that causes people to misunderstand a specific discourse is only something that falls outside of their culture-centric (or utterance focused) understanding of the world. Words words words are all they are you say, but the ideas, THE IDEA, is one that still resides in a commonality of human consciousness and it must remain for humans to understand such a thing. This is where polyphony comes in. According to Bakhtin, polyphony is the phenomenon that orders together the heteroglossia of the multitude of utterances to make meaning, which is still highly interpretable by the subject. Yes, nailing down dialogism is quite illusive, the thing of art itself, yet it can be done to enjoyable effect.

As I say earlier, purposed discourse, focused and pointed, almost always wins out over discourse of substance or importance. Therefore, and I am speaking in the context of blogging again, if substance is to be conveyed, it must be made coherent and clear. Duh you say? Yeah, same here. Most blogs are either completely obscure in their intent, are opaque if they have any substantive material in them at all, or are completely transparent regarding the author’s delinquent attempts at either conveying substantive rhetoric or proving his or her own point. A fairly obvious response exists in regard to the statement “I have this question that’s been burning inside me about X topic, and I think that the answer to this question is Y (X being the heterogenous question everyone asks), therefore I am right because the “experts” T, U, and V say so, and, therefore, I am now more enlightened for going down that [stolid] rhetorical path.” That’s a huge oversimplification, and without getting into the mechanics of rhetoric itself, I would like to strictly consider the community or cultural-based effect of such a simplified statement.

Making such sweeping statements are easy to do for the blogger, and residing in the role of blog-reader these statements are hard to question, partly because of the medium (we might look at a blog for a matter of moments and then move on to the next one, or not really care that the blog is persuasive, correct, or otherwise), but also partly because the intrinsic, or lack of, interest a reader has in the blog itself. So, to prove my point, if you have gotten this far in my blog, you are either a relative or friend of mine (none of whom actually read this blog), you have insomnia and a broken mouse that doesn’t allow you to click off the page (god knows how you got here to begin with), or you might have something at stake with what I am saying–the least likely demographic. To make my point clearer, I would state that my topic does not speak for itself; it’s not in the mainstream of blogger interests. The commonality of voices and listeners in blogger land most likely lend to a discourse pointed towards self-absorbed homogenization, and I think this is the case because of the egalitarian nature of blogging; I say this without judgment. I am not assigning a good or bad value to this dynamic, I am just saying that non-subjectivity is a predominant phenomenon.

So, in reaching an audience of diverse and heteroglossic listeners, I must again pose the issue of whether coherence and clarity (no matter what these methods are conveying) overpower one or the other, as if brevity precludes real meaning. I think this delves into the issue of rhetorical devices that I shied away from a few paragraphs ago. Therefore, real substance, then, refers to developing clear and verifiable evidence or using rhetorical means to justify claims (if such a thing exists in the blog itself, which most of the time I do not observe) particular to professional, disciplinary, or (here’s the broad one that most bloggers fall under) informal discourse communities–an example of this would be a blogger justifying a claim by merely linking to it or paraphrasing another highly subjective medium: WIKIPEDIA.

Therefore, techniques at getting at highly subject truth boil down to a blogger’s self interested techniques of justification–discursive practices–that are socially negotiated; bloggers unknowingly realize that their own definition of their readership community expects different discursive gestures to justify different sorts of claims. Some communities expect dialectical arguments (basing judgments on the consensus of group thought, then making inferences from there), while others pose their arguments for and against community movements in the same utterance; dialogic discourse, of which I would say creates a more organic and effective means to convey and effectively nod to the other utterance, poses a problem for the blogger as it does not base it’s rhetorical efficacy on communal or dialectic “truths.” Ah ha! It may utter, mirror, respond, roll its eyes, all in a tone unique (or not) to the utterer’s local dialect, however or whatever it may be.

Obversely, using the dialectic method to build an elaborate case for oneself also drowns the point of view in details and may not be necessary. Enthymeme, as Aristotle calls it, therefore becomes the prevalence in blogger land–stating a simple assertion or question over and over again that has been stated or queried thousands if not millions of times elsewhere. Enthymemes are effective only because they draw their power from a group’s common capital of perceived and received knowledge. So here’s my million dollar question to you, my most probably bored reader. Do these enthemes, perpetual and overtly accepted truths talked about over and over again, provide us with value, especially considering that they do not constitute a diverse dialogue? I know what I think, but what’s your view?

This entry was posted in Bakhtin, Commentary, Critical Theory, Essay.

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