Thursday, 26 April 2012

Why Blog?

This blog will take the form of occasional diary entries, occasional writings, and links to material on the Web which I have read and found interesting or useful.

I am starting blogging principally as a way of circulating ideas and information which do not get much exposure in the mainstream media, and certainly not in the mainstream media in Ireland, where I live.

'Reflections from Damaged Life' is a phrase taken from Theodor Adorno's extraordinary book, written in exile in the United States during the Second World War and published in 1953, Minima Moralia.  Adorno's example is one worth considering, for this sort of 'diary', in a number of respects.  In his understanding of the culture of monopoly capitalism and liberal democracy, he reckoned that the conditions of life in the late modern world negated the possibility of teaching and living the 'good life', as originally advocated in Western ethical theory (beginning with Aristotle's Magna Moralia):  'Wrong life cannot be lived rightly'.  All modes of life are now 'damaged', for Adorno, but it may be that 'the splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass'.  The point therefore is that in the midst of defeat and disappointment and frustration, perhaps because of them, thinking and criticism must continue.

Adorno's mode of writing Minima Moralia was to organise it in 153 notes, jottings, short essays, expanded aphorisms.  This open mode of writing produces an effect not unlike a diary, though it would be a foolish blogger who compared himself directly to Adorno, the density and bristling character of whose writing helps make his book one of the stylistic masterpieces of the twentieth century.

Edward Said, reviewing Alexander Cockburn's wonderful compendium of journalism, Corruptions of Empire, in the London Review of Books in 1988, noted that both Cockburn and Adorno intervened in and analyzed the 'consciousness industry'.  Much of Cockburn's book consists of diary entries, by turns mordant and hilarious, on life in America during the Reagan era, collected together in a section entitled 'In the Era of Good Feelings'.

Triangulating between these two great exemplars, this diary will explore occasional elements of Irish political and cultural life in the current era of bad feelings, which is just as capable of producing Orwell's 'smelly orthodoxies' as was the boomtime groupthink of the Celtic Tiger.


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