Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blog Days

Since we’re in the dog days, I thought I’d reflect on my blog these days. In an earlier post, in January of this year, I said I anticipated that I would not be able to stay on par with the number of posts I made last year, and this projection has proved to be true. On this date last year I’d posted 126 times; not counting today’s post, this year I’ve posted only 96 times—that’s thirty fewer posts over the course of seven months, or roughly four per month. The drop-off is slightly more than I thought it would be, but it’s not a huge drop in any case. Perhaps I’ll be able to make some of them up by the end of the year; we’ll see. I’ve found that blogging keeps the old writing muscle in good shape, and I think forcing myself to write regularly has actually enabled me to write both faster and with more accuracy. That’s a subjective impression, of course, but in any case I think despite the time it takes away from other activities, blogging has been good for me, and while the number of posts has dropped slightly this year, hopefully the quality has not. I’m quickly closing in on 40,000 page views, meaning that the past few months have seen a rather sharp increase in hits. So although in terms of numbers my posts are down from last year, the number of hits is up considerably.

By far, the most positive outcome of the blogging experience has been that I’ve discovered things I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. In that regard I’ve managed to adhere to one rule I set for myself, not to approach the blog with a predetermined agenda or set of issues. Yesterday’s blog entry is a good example: I had only a vague approximation of what I wanted to write about, namely the subject of the rock ‘n’ roll movie, having seen Rock Around the Clock a couple of months ago. Beyond that general topic I had no idea what I wanted to say. I pulled a couple of books on the subject off the shelf— Thomas Doherty’s Teenagers and Teenpics, first issued in the late 1980s and revised and reissued in 2002, and also David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed’s Rock on Film, published in 1982 and badly in need of updating. The books provided me the gist of my blog on the rock movie, but ironically, by what they did not choose to talk about. As I paged through these books, I found myself forming a question, namely that of how the cinema relied on myths of African Americans to shape the fundamental narratives and ideologies of rock ‘n’ roll movies. I think that’s a legitimate question, especially since the so-called “rock ‘n’ roll movie” was one effect of the rock revolution created by Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and others. Admittedly, my question was formed by skimming two books on the subject, hardly a scholarly approach—but this is a blog, after all, not a scholarly journal. Moreover, my underlying motive is to teach myself something, however modest the insight, not to revolutionize the field of rock studies. I strongly suspect that I’m not the only one to have asked this specific question about the rock movie—in fact, although I have not thoroughly researched the subject, I’m quite sure I’m not. But the more important point is that had I not sat down to write on the subject, I never would have thought seriously about the issue, and that’s the whole point of this blog in the first place. There are days when I feel like throwing in the towel and tearing it all down—I’ve never spoken to a blogger who didn’t have the same inclination—but for now, as long as I’m learning something, I’m content to continue writing. I hope you will stick with me, if for no other reason than the odd pleasure of not knowing where you’re going. Neither do I.

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