My Preoccupied Mind: Blogging and Research

I haven’t been posting as much to my blog lately. I wanted to explain my reasons, in case anyone cared to know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some related things.

A while back, I started a post about the radicalism of the Enlightenment. Many people, especially conservatives, forget how violently the traditional social order was overturned, in order to create the world we know today. Modern capitalist society may be many things, but it has nothing to do with any traditional social order and the same goes for modern conservatism that aligns itself with capitalism.

That led me to other topics. I was reminded, among other things, to some of my earlier thinking on the Axial Age, Julian Jayne’s breakdown of the bicameral mind, etc. I’ve always sensed a hidden connection between that earlier era of transformation and the radicalism of the Enlightenment, the latter being a greater expression and fulfillment of what first emerged more than two millennia ago.

With all of that in mind, I was looking many different articles and books. My curiosity has been in full gear ever since. I’m in research mode, which for me can be quite an obsessive and time-consuming activity.

This was made worse because I got into a discussion about shame. While putting the radicalism post on the back burner, I looked into this other topic, as I had never explored it before. It turned out that shame is a lot more fascinating than I had considered.

My investigation into the meaning of shame once again led me back in the same direction that the issue of radicalism had brought me.

Julian Jaynes had written about the comparison of shame and guilt cultures. He was influenced in by E. R. Dodds (and Bruno Snell). Dodds in turn based some of his own thinking about the Greeks on the work of Ruth Benedict, who originated the shame and guilt culture comparison in her writings on Japan and the United States. Benedict, like Margaret Mead, had been taught by Franz Boas. Boas developed some of the early anthropological thinking that saw societies as distinct cultures.

Connected to these thinkers, I was reading Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes the World. I realized a connection to my own speculations about symbolic conflation, about which I recently wrote a post. I explored that in a fair amount of detail, but it only touched upon one area of my mind’s focus as of late.

As you can see, I was exploring the connections of scholarly thought, but also the connections of different time periods. The past speaks to the present, whether the past of centuries before or millennia before.

At the same time, I feel like I have a family obligation to finish up the genealogy research I started years ago. I got distracted by other things. I do enjoy genealogy, but it is difficult and requires total focus. I have barely even started on my father’s side of the family.

I have my hands full. I enjoy blogging and will continue to do so, but it might be sporadic in the immediate future. I’m not sure what I might blog about, when I do get around to it. I’m known for being easily distracted and writing about such distractions.

The Fantasy Blog Stock Market

I just came across a profile page for this blog on a website called Blogshares: “The fantasy blog stock market.” On the About page, the website is described thusly:

“BlogShares is a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies. Players invest fictional dollars in a wide spectrum of blogs. Blogs are valued by both incoming and outgoing links, and can add value to other blogs by linking to them. Prices increase or decrease based on trading and the underlying value of the blog. No actual ownership of blogs is transferred: BlogShares is purely a fictional marketplace for entertainment purposes only.”

My blog’s fantasy valuation is B$12,826.16 and the market share 0.00002 %. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but it is mildly amusing.

I’ve always wondered what the real-world market value of my blog. At least, I now have a number to put on the fantasy market value. Sadly, I don’t get any of these fantasy profits. Someone else added my blog to the fantasy blog stock market, and I’m not even sure how to buy fantasy shares in my own blog or how any of it works.

Collective-Monkey-Mind.com

Collective-Monkey-Mind.com

Posted on Mar 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
I was looking around Gaia the other day and came across something c4chaos had written about blogging.  I was interested as this is my first blog,.. but I suspect some people take their blogging more seriously than I.  C4chaos said, amongst many things, that blogging should be useful.  I can’t say I have such noble ambitions…. not to say I want to be unuseful.  All I’m hoping for is maybe to be interesting.  Or maybe I need to admit my ambitions.  I do like the idea of spreading knowledge through blogging.  In time, I hope somebody will read my humble blogs and just possibly learn something new.

I find it fascinating the hopes and expectations that fuel different people’s activities on the web, and how they express it.  For the most part, the web serves a non-perfunctorial, non-essential purpose.  Even the most useful blog or website isn’t exactly essential to life.  And most web denizens don’t actually make money(or at least not much) in all the time they spend staring at their respective screens.

There is so much desire and idealism and desparation being bandied about.  People start websites sharing their vision or their manifesto.  People look for friendship in chat rooms and community on discussion boards.  People check the comments and stats on their blogs hoping for aknowledgment, for approval.  People look for knowledge to give them understanding, porn to give them pleasure, entertainment to give them distraction.  I’ve spent many a hour jumping from one link to another.  The web is addictive if nothing else.

There is so much expectation grating against expectation… not to mention mindless compulsion.  So much of the personal gets lost that emotions show in such a raw fashion.  This is really obvious on discussion boards.  You see conflict and clanishness and everything else.  And it feels so fleeting.  Its so hard to really connect with people, and people you knew well disappear without an explanation.  Communities form and dissolve, but the motivation that brought all those people together surely doesn’t disappear.  If people were satisfied with their real-world relationships they’d probably never turn to discussion boards and networking sites… or else not keep returning to them again and again.

In observing the web, I can sense something in the world that wants to emerge.  But its so confused by and misdirected into a thousand distractionss, the vital energy for change leaking into the vast expanses of the world wide web.

What is this all add up to?  Anything?

(I know some of the standard answers, but I prefer the question itself.)

Should a blog, should the web be useful?  Why?  I suppose it was created with a purpose by the millitary, but what has it become?  Even as we speak, various companies and government institutions are vying for control of this burgeoning electronic territory.  Such an amorphous entity must be controlled.  Terrorists.  Hackers. Identity thiefs.  Oh my!  The fears are as magnified as the desires.

My blog is one among millions.  Just another voice filling up the collective monkey mind.

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Tagged with: blogging, internet, c4chaos

My Online Adventures

I became interested in the Internet through researching ideas which is what I do even without the Internet, but the Internet has made it much easier and more enjoyable.  The first topic I web-searched to a great degree (by which I mean obsessively) was Tarot which led me to MBTI.  I was only vaguely familiar with MBTI and was happy to learn more about it as I was already deeply interested in Carl Jung’s ideas. 

This search for info led me to an INFP discussion forum (INFP is my MBTI personality type).  It was utterly amazing because it was a large group of people who had a similar way of thinking and communicating, but it kind of spoiled me for more general forums I’d later join.  I had some truly awesome discussions there, but some of the members I interacted with on a regular basis ended up moving on.  I came to learn how informal web relationships are.  Most people don’t really want to connect.  I do want to connect, but when someone asked if I’d like to meet in person I realized I had my limits on how much I wanted to connect as well.  I’m somewhat of a loner and am contented with my few close real-world relationships.  However, I look for something different in my on-line friendships that my everyday relationships can’t satisfy.

Anyways, the INFP forum and other MBTI-related forums were just too specific.  My mind wanders and my intellectual hunger wasn’t being sated.  I went looking around.  I’ve since belonged to many forums: Beliefnet, Truth Be Known, some Integral Theory forums, and various Atheist/Agnostic forums.  I realized no single group would satisfy and groups took too much effort and time for what usually turned out to be too little benefit.  I started considering blogs as I really just wanted a format to express myself without constantly worrying about what others thought.  I first tried My Opera because the only blog I was following at the time (Quentin S. Crisp’s Directory of Lost Causes) happened to be there, but I quickly realized that it had too many foreign language blogs for my taste. 

I wanted to still be able to connect with people to an extent, and so I looked for places that offered blogging services along with social networking.  At first, I considered Ning because I already belonged to some groups there.  The problem I saw with Ning is that blogs seemed pretty isolated there.  There really weren’t too many other options that fit what I was looking for, but I kept looking and comparing.  I was also worried about newer start-ups that might not stick around and so I was trying to determine sites that had been around for years.  I finally settled on Gaia.com.  It had a good balance.  I was initially attracted to the fact that it had a very active Integral community.  I did enjoy it quite a bit and participated regularly in one of the groups.  I met some nice people and it was there that I developed my blogging abilities.  After awhile, though, it too felt confining.  It was really a site dedicated to people wanting to improve the world.  I have nothing against improving the world, but it really isn’t the reason I spend my time on-line and definitely not what I blog about for the most part.  Besides, the cynical side of my personality really grated with the large number of New Age types there.

So, I decided that I just wasn’t going to find a community of people who were similar to me.  My interests are just too diverse.  It was an amazing experience whenever I met a person who shared even a small percentage of the same interests, but that happened too rarely.  I was just tired of trying to connect with others.

I turned to sites that simply specialized in blogging.  I decided to instead use the blogging platforms themselves as the standard of my decision instead of anything to do with social networking.  I now was simply looking for an easy way to post my writings that gave me enough options to play around and personalize my blog.  I looked back at My Opera and checked out my old Live Journal account, but I mostly focused on Blogger and Word Press.  I posted the same thing on all of these blogs and compared their specific functions.  I did that for several months and Word Press won.  That is the story of how I ended up here.

However, I still crave discussion.  I wish more people would comment and I wish the people who comment would return a second time.  A single comment a discussion does not make.  I’m not trying to drive traffic to my blog because I’m not trying to make money or anything.  I just figure there has to be other people like me with similar interests, and at least a few of them would be interested in discussion.  I don’t know if such people are fewer than I imagine or if it’s that they’re unlikely to find my blog for whatever reason.  As far as I can tell, my posts often come up in search results and I definitely show up in Word Press listings.  People visit my blog on a daily basis, but why do so few leave a comment?

I suspect most people aren’t interested in discussion and especially not of the deep intellectual variety.  Even other deep intellectual types don’t seem all that interested in discussion.  Most people seem content to do their own thing in their own blog.  The people who seek out places to comment are often spammers and trolls.  It depresses me a bit.  I comment in other people’s blogs all of the time, but it doesn’t usually lead anywhere.  Most bloggers don’t respond back and certainly don’t try to connect in any way such as commenting in my blog in return.  This is partly explained by the statistics.  I was reading that 96% of bloggers haven’t posted in the last 4 months.

Partly to satisfy my need for discussion, I’ve been commenting in the online version of my local paper.  That is somewhat more satisfying as I actually know some of the people commenting and the subject matter is a bit more personally relevant.  However, I’m not much of a news junky and so I just enjoy the interaction and I even partially enjoy the stupid debate.  There are a couple of intelligent posters which comes close to offseting all of the opinionated ignorance.

I did recently connect with some fellow bloggers here on Word Press.  I’m feeling inspired to make my blog more interesting and new-person-friendly.  I wrote up an extensive ‘About’ page, a ‘Favorite Posts’ page, and finally got around to adding the blogs I visit to my blogroll.  I was thinking I should clean up my categories because they’re a bit of a jumble.  Also, my theme is rather mundane.  I picked it for practical reasons as I liked the way it was set up, but I should look at other options again.  If I ever feel extraordinarily motivated, I might add a picture to my banner.  It was only recently that I even got around to adding the icon of my kitty.  It sure is a lot of work.  If I was a motivated person, I’d probably be doing something in the real world rather than blogging.  lol

To further break out of my isolated slump, I joined Technorati and Blog Catalog.  I’ll see how that turns out.  I doubt it will make much difference.  Blog Catalog looks like it could potentially be a place to connect, but there is a lot of crap to wade through.

I’m happy to have a blog anyways with or without regular discussion.  I used to journal which got boring after a decade of being my own audience.  Blogging forces me to be more thorough and careful in my thinking process.  It’s good practice to have something that motivates me to write on a regular basis.  I enjoy writing and that is the important part.

Showcasing Sites for Writing

I was reading a blog post by Anne Whitaker (To the website! Chapter Three (at last!)) and came across these showcasing sites. 

Author’s Den

Creative Carnival

Blog Carnival

Technorati

Zimbio

I’d heard of Technorati before, but hadn’t ever looked into it.  I’m not sure that I’m all that interested in going out of my way to share my writing with the world.  Anyone who is interested in what I write about will probably (ignoring a recent exception) be able to find my blog posts just by doing a websearch.  But I could possibly enjoy a bit more interactivity than I get in my isolated blog world.  I was observing how very few of the people who visit my blog ever leave a comment… maybe one out of every few hundred visitors.  Half of the people who comment simply do so because I linked to their blog first.  So, I’ll explore these sites and see what I think of them.