August 16th, 2014

Why I blog

When I was a child I’d periodically become wildly enthusiastic about something I had read or some music I’d heard, and I’d run to show my parents.

“Yes dear, that’s nice,” they’d say absent-mindedly, backing out of the room. I soon learned they did not share many of my interests, and I stopped trying to enlist theirs, sticking instead to enthusiasms we did share (theater, dance).

Even my beloved grandmother, who always had plenty of time for me, was hard-pressed to feign interest when I started reading aloud to her from Forbidden Planet and On the Beach at the age of nine.

Yes, I was an odd child; no doubt about that.

As I grew up, little changed except my audience. I learned to be more discreet; I no longer read aloud to relatives or friends. But every now and then I’d get carried away by something. I remember once, at a small dinner party at a friend’s house, some topic came up about the arts or philosophy or dance or history or something that piqued my interest, and I started talking animatedly about it. When I had finished and came up for air, I noticed a slightly glazed look on the faces of the people around the table. Oops!

Later that night I was discussing it with my then-husband, who said (not unkindly) that although I was not boring, people just didn’t usually want to have deep discussions about stuff like that, they wanted to “keep it light” (no, I was not discussing German philosophy, or death, or anything of that sort).

Much later, I found myself living in a different city, one that had a reputation for being chic and sophisticated and quite urbane. Surely here I’d find a larger group of like-minded people who wanted to talk about the deeper issues. I did have a couple over for dinner once who seemed simpatico in that way, and they were. We talked and talked and talked. They had lived in that city for their entire lives and were very sociable and knew tons of people, so I told them of my dream to get a bunch of interested people together regularly for some scintillating conversation, a sort of salon. Their reply? Fahgetaboutit. There were hardly any people around who’d be interested in that sort of thing.

And so it rested, until I found blogs. The moment I read my very first one I realized I was onto something. Not all blogs, of course; maybe not even most of them. But here, here were my peeps! Here were a bunch of weirdos (sorry folks; I include myself) who liked to jaw-jaw at length about the very sorts of topics I had long been yearning to talk about. What fun!

And so it has continued, most of the time.

52 Responses to “Why I blog”

  1. Yancey Ward Says:

    I think that was the best description of the purpose of blogging I have read.

  2. expat Says:

    What I love about your blog is that so many people from different backgrounds with different insights can make all the discussions really advance my thinking on topics that interest me. It’s not like a discussion where you know in advance what everyone will say.

  3. Ry Jones Says:

    You might listen to episode 99 of Partially Examined Life. They talk about all of the outreach from people wanting to discuss issues, but not finding a forum.

    I would recommend the entire podcast series, but they’re all hardcore leftists, so there’s a lot of political stuff you have to kind of hum and ignore.

  4. Alan F Says:

    What a wonderful thing the 21st century Internet has wrought for you Neo! Obviously, all of your regular readers are eager to learn what you have to say. And you have a lot to say every day.

  5. mike f Says:

    Neo, I agree with Yancey above who says yours is …”the best description of the purpose of blogging I have read; and with expat on “…expanding my thinking…”.

    I think of your blog as the internet equivalent of Bill Bennett’s radio show – thoughtful, in depth, insightful conversation without yelling.

    You think, you write, I read. Life is good. Thank you.

  6. J.J. Says:

    Thanks for this description of why I find the blogosphere to be so addictive to me. Few people in my neighborhood are interested in examining what is going on in the world.

    On Wednesday night we had a neighborhood pot luck. After listening to tales of medical problems, cute grand children exploits, where the best restaurants are, and problems with landscapers, I ventured a thought about why the economy was not doing better than it is. One of my neighbors got very red in the face as he exclaimed, “I just don’t want to think about it. It’s all crap.” Most of the others nodded in agreement. Well, that kind of ended my offerings. So, here I am and very glad that neo has the talent, time, and willingness to share. :-)

    Without the blogosphere, I might be one of those crabby old hermits that seldom says much.

  7. parker Says:

    Keep on blogging neoneocon. You provide so many topics to wet our appetites.

  8. Tonawanda Says:

    There is nothing more interesting than the meaning of life. Why are we here?

    It is impossible to guess how many folks consider the question.

    For those who do not, there are two classes. Folks to whom the question never occurred, and folks to whom the answer is obvious, no consideration necessary.

    For the folks who consider the question, there are two classes, folks who think they do not know and folks who think they “know.”

    Images, language, culture, ideas, history, creativity, thoughts, narrative, microscopic examination, a whole lot more, make up the consideration of the meaning of life.

    It is all delightful.

    And daunting and depressing.

    In the search for (here’s my “obvious”) answer comes the regard for each one of us each one of us should have.

    Yikes. Morality from knowing nothing.

  9. Tonawanda Says:

    And no … few, few people regardless of ilk want to discuss anything, and regard it as rude and off-putting.

  10. v hayes Says:

    You are one of my favorite bloggers. I think your take on issues is to the point and very thoughtful. If I bloggeg I would hope I could be as concise as you.

  11. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    nice salon ya got here.

  12. Kate Powell Says:

    I was exactly the same. I grew up in New Jersey believing that I would find intelligent conversation, along with bright lights and glamour, in NYC. I found a bunch of people who wanted to make money.

    Whisking off to Britain to get married, I imagined I’d find intelligent conversation, exquisite manners and old world charm. You must be joking.

    Back in small town USA now, thank God, with plenty of stimulating people online, and you don’t even have to be polite. You can switch them off whenever you like.

    Glad I found your blog via Michelle Obama’s Mirror.

  13. n.n Says:

    Exploration and expression without the threat of sticks and stones… between lunch and dinner, housework and yard work.

    It’s not that you cannot find people to discuss one topic or another at one time or another, but it is difficult to find people who would want to discuss a multiplicity of topics at any time or all the time. The value of the internet is that it expands the available and accessible market of people and ideas, and enables random access to each according to our own particular schedule. Not surprisingly, we discover overlapping and even convergent interests which unify and reduce our world. It’s a virtual community which overcomes physical separation and mitigates individual peculiarities. It is simultaneously enlightening and dismaying; comforting and vexing; expansive and diminutive. While it will displace the real community, it will never replace it.

    That said, my handwriting has suffered tremendously. Although, my typing skill has advanced proportionately. Few people will patiently tolerate whimsical interludes. Especially when there is work to be done, a task to be completed… Ah, the philosopher’s work is subordinate.

  14. blert Says:

    Dittos.

  15. JohnC Says:

    Thanks for doing what you do Neo. I appreciate all of it.

    We’ve had a lot of depth lately. Don’t you think it’s about time for one of the candy corn things? How about deviled eggs?

  16. Jon Jewett Says:

    Hmmmmm………
    I am a Simple Red Neck and I have never been in a Salon before. Cool.

    Thank you

  17. vanderleun Says:

    I came to blogging for the waters.

  18. Promethea Says:

    vanderleun . . .

    You are a blog-genius too who attracts good commenters. Neo already knows how much I love her. It’s people like you two who give me hope that there are still educated, alert, and thoughtful people out there in the wilderness of mindlessness.

  19. blert Says:

    Waters?

    What waters?

    There’s only luminiferous aether within the Internet.

  20. Chereb Lashown Says:

    Neo, allow me the privilege of affirming and encouraging you! I just came here for a short visit after reading you on Professor Jacobson’s blog (Legal Insurrection). Your writings always seem pertinent and insightful to me – easily on a par with Daniel Greenfield’s writings or Professor Jacobson’s. It’s a delight to read your penned thoughts! Keep up the great work.

    For pure entertainments sake I go to either “I Hate The Media” or “Weasel Zippers” – but for rational understanding and insight, you three are to whom I turn. You’re doing a great job. :)

  21. mizpants Says:

    Great post. I was relieved to read it, because I’ve often feared you’d get tired of sorting through all the miseries of the world and sign off. Then where would I go? I don’t comment all that often, but this blog is very important to me. Even when I’m silent, I feel a sense of community here.

  22. KLSmith Says:

    “Here were a bunch of weirdos….”.
    I’ve always thought that people desiring to be shallow and superficial was weird – which of course makes me weird.
    Thank you for an interesting place to spend time, Neo.

  23. Larry Says:

    Boy howdy, does this sound familiar! Most of 75 years familiar.

  24. JulianT Says:

    I have been reading you for a few years now; never have made a comment before. I believe you are the most fascinating mind on the net. It would be a great great loss if one day this went away.

  25. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    All my life, I have loved to kick ideas around, to speculate, conjecture, extrapolate, expound, examine. Back in the day, I knew several people who liked to do the same thing — but that was when my ideas were pretty much identical to theirs. When my ideas went off on their own tangent, most of my old friends — other than Mr Whatsit — lost all interest in discussing much of anything with me any more. Despite their professed commitment to tolerance, diversity, and multi-culturalism, it turned out that most everyone I knew was quite uniform in their intolerance for divergent thinking.

    Therefore, thank goodness, and thank Neo, for this place.

  26. M J R Says:

    I *stink* at “small talk”. I have been counseled that it’s a skill I really ought to master, and I have been counseled on how to start doing it. I agree that my (social) life would be easier if I mastered the skill.

    Many of wife’s closest friends are leftish-artsy. Believe me, I’d rather suffer through their medical problems and cute grandchildren and favorite restaurants [reference: J.J., 6:34 pm] than suffer (silently) through things they occasionally say, generally not even with awareness, that I dare not openly or directly refute — because if I do, I’m the jerk who pisses in the lemonade at the Sunday School picnic.

    I was once a part of an internet forum where we were *once* all friends, but some were lefties and — you-all may very well know the rest. As an example, one friend, an estate lawyer, had this way of being particularly condescending and dismissive and *derisive* when I would voice right-oriented concerns (she, in fact, is *incredibly* naive about what’s going on, but that’s off on a tangent).

    No, M J R isn’t an archangel, either — I freely confess to having my own carefully cultivated snark capability — and that’s part of the difficulty, since so many of us do.

    It just doesn’t work.

    Thanks, neo, for your efforts and dedication. Yes, this forum is a community, for which I thank neo and I thank God, not necessarily in that order.

  27. Doom Says:

    It is a terribly lonely existence. I wish I had known more people like you in my life. I have met a few in my vast travels. Even when we weren’t animated by the same topics, because of our own understandings, we would take the time to allow one or the other to… share, and try to find our own enthusiasm to put into the other’s notions.

    I once had a dream that, because of this peculiarity, I was put into a school in which all the other people, child to adult, were like this. We fixed the world! What a dream.

    You certainly know how to dig up, at least for me, painful memories. The loneliness of the stars, all alone in the night, far away and without voice or ears and yet with so much to say.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    The nail that sticks out gets hammered flat first.

    Social conformity is very strong in face to face communities. It operates even when people think they are alone. Thus there’s really no point or advantage in expressing one’s own thoughts, since that can lead to the group taking your status and resources away, if you somehow violate the community standard (which isn’t even printed).

    Unless you have conversational skills and break down a person’s “shield” or “face” that they mask themselves with, they aren’t interested. It’s dangerous to become interested or invested, since it’s a lot safer going with the flow.

    On the internet, this reliance on “groups” is removed, and as a consequence, individual personas shine better.

  29. expat Says:

    I forgot to mention that Neo occasionally administers a bowl of jello to remind us that despite all its problems, there is still fun in the world and it’s OK to laugh.

  30. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    I enjoy coming here every day, for the hostess to enlighten me, and the further opinions of her cotire of readers. And to be amazed at artfldgr’s ability to type fast.

  31. Sharon W Says:

    As usual I concur with so many thoughts expressed in these comments. Over the years, the time I can devote to reading blogs has dwindled but yours, Neo tops my list. You amaze me in your capacity to flesh out a subject, even daunting ones like Obamacare. And the length and breadth of subject matter is fascinating. M J R, I agree with you about the snark, it doesn’t appeal to me and you don’t see a lot of that here so I value the commentary too.

  32. kit Says:

    me, too.

    thank you, Neo!

  33. Thalpy Says:

    It is great fun and meaningful to visit each day. Prep time for your blog must be staggering, but it’s very much appreciated. Neo, your possession of the words and artistry at their use make Neo-Neocon a great place to visit.

  34. bitterlyclinging Says:

    Oh Gawd!

    “On The Beach”

    “Forbidden Planet”

    The same cookie cutter?
    That mental image of sailing back into an empty New London Harbor is still unsettling to this day.

  35. Sarah Rolph Says:

    This definitely resonates with me, as well. I have seen many of those glazed looks in my time!

    It’s tremendous reassuring, and uplifting, to have found in the blogosphere so many people who do think deeply about things and who do have cogent thoughts to share.

    You do a wonderful job here, Neo!

    JJ, it is a privilege to have had the opportunity to converse with you online over the years. You have shared many profound and important thoughts, and as you know I love your clear, friendly, inclusive writing style.

  36. baklava Says:

    And I love reading what you write !

  37. NeoConScum Says:

    Landlady N-Neocon, I have come to absolutely love your occasional little ‘peeps’ allowing us a look of the human biography of your dear self. Thank You, Mam.

  38. GA Says:

    testing

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    Everybody:

    I am very touched by your responses. Thank you all.

  40. John Dough Says:

    JJ:

    I too am at a loss at dinner parties talking trivial matters i.e. “what do you think about the garbage company changing the day of the weekly pickup” etc. Most times I just sit an mind my manners. Later the host/hostess will ask my wife if I had a good time, since I didn’t say much. She usually replies (God bless her) that if anything intelligent would have been discussed, I would have entered the conversation.

    Neo:

    As a life long conservative, leaning a little towards libertarianism, I always enjoy listening to a recovering Liberal. Thank You

    To everyone else on this blog… I enjoy the intelligent discussions that always appear here.

  41. Judith L. Says:

    I rarely comment here, but I read your blog every day and I frequently read the comments, too. So I feel like a bird of a feather. Particularly when I learned that you and Bookworm had lunch. She’s another blogger that I visit every day I just love the conversation, even if it is usually just one way where I am concerned.

  42. texexec Says:

    Neo, I haven’t been commenting much lately but I read your blog every day. Both you and your commenters are fabulous. Don’t y’all stop. And fwiw, every time I talk to a lib (especially a female one) who I think stands a chance of being converted, I recommend your blog.

  43. Mike Says:

    As was noted above:
    You think, you write, I read. Life is good. Thank you.

    What a loss to all of us, had you never questioned the way you thought after 9/11. And decided dialog was better than monologue. I’m just sorry you had to lose your friends over your decision. Their Loss, not yours.

    I think that is why I interact superficially with my lawyer in-laws. Whenever I’ve tried dialog, I’m met with condensation, generalities and simply rude behavior.
    It is more thought provoking to read the thoughts of a “classical liberal” here.

    I would send you the DVD of Forbidden Planet but I”m sure you already have it. At 7 yrs old, it was my first sci-fi movie that I can remember (Got a free pass in a box of Quaker Oats). As a kid, I remember the Dr. taking the risk of trying on the helmet before his friend and suffering the consequences of that freely chosen act. And thinking about that aspect of friendship. And I remember the Father finally realizing he was the cause of all the trouble and standing up to the Evil that burned down the thick safety doors and wanted to destroy his daughter and her love interest.
    Sometime I will have to read the book and see how it differs from the movie. :-)
    Above is off topic. On topic: Thank you for simply sharing some of the Who of You with the rest of Us. Truly a priceless gift :-)

  44. Marcia Says:

    This post and subsequent responses have been like perfectly paired dark chocolate and cabernet.
    So appreciated.

  45. Capn Rusty Says:

    I have long followed your blog, Neo. You are a great writer and a great thinker (even when I disagree with you). The icing on the cake is the quality of the commenters you attract. I learn much from them. The “Salon” analogy is spot on; you are a great hostess.

  46. Michael Adams Says:

    Yes! I can remember at a very early age saying something speculative, and having someone, usually my father, shoot me down. I got even, though. I married a good partner for conversation, and begat two more. You can’t shut any of us up, although my daughter in law does try, from time to time. Now, the grandkids are coming along quite nicely. Your wonderful blog fits seamlessly into our small society. And, yeah, the writing’s not half bad, either.

  47. Mac Says:

    Add me to the list of kindred spirits. My blog serves exactly the same purpose for me, though the subjects of conversation are generally different. If I had no commenters I’d probably give it up.

    I’m wretched at small talk. And unfortunately it often happens that if I do run across other people who are interested in talking about the big stuff, things tend to stall out on fundamental disagreements.

    I must say that I’m interested, amused, and a little pleased to hear you big-city folks say the situation is no better there than it is in my provincial town. I’ve sometimes wondered if I should have moved to a big city, or maybe a big university campus, for that reason, but sounds like it’s just as well, since I don’t actually like big cities.

  48. Ira Says:

    1. Neo-Neocon, if I haven’t thanked you for your blog before, I should have. Thank you!

    2. Your Ma, Dad, and Gramma might not have shown interest in your reading from Forbidden Planet, yet I’m am sure they were super-interested in loads and loads of other things about you.

    3. The majority of adult people, unfortunately, regardless of intellectual prowess, only care to put the effort into speaking about themselves.

  49. GA Says:

    Nothing wrong with small talk. And the garbage company’s change of pickup days is important for those who may not have heard of it. If you end up keeping that stuff for an extra week in the summer….
    Practically everybody has some deep thoughts. May not be what you want to hear, and maybe they know that.
    There’s a limit to the utility of discussing things. If I get into something contentious, it will be simply to alert my, say, green friends that certain things are happening–which they almost certainly know–to discredit AGW and that the rest of us know these things, too. No point in “discussing” them. Recent news, for example, that all of Michael Brown’s holes were in front doesn’t actually mean anything to the protesters in Ferguson or elsewhere, or the progressives elsewhere. Simply explain you know better and let them stew.
    Richard Aubrey

  50. Papa Dan Says:

    Between Ace and Neo I feel like I have as close a chance to experience what Ben Franklins “Junto” must have been like. http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/l3_citizen_networker.html

  51. zipper Says:

    Yes ma’am

    Thank you

    Keep on.

  52. Vikram Says:

    Indeed I learned the real purpose of blogging after reading this. You writings takes me to a journey. To a different world. It sounds quite American, though I am able to interpret it. Not all the blogs have your kind of twist. A whole range of topics to read. I understand a blog is not necessarily for making money. Have been roaming around on your blog since an hour, it seems to be an adventure ride for me.

    Thanks,
    Keep Jawing

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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