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Contrapundit

Posted by acdtest on August 17, 2003

Contrapundit

esponding to a remark of mine in the comments section of another weblog wherein I jestingly (well, only half-jestingly) expressed the sentiment that I was beginning to become fond of the weblog’s author even though that author was a news junkie and political wonk, a reader eMailed me that he simply couldn’t understand how I could say such a thing. Aren’t news junkies and political pundits the very cream of the blogosphere, and doesn’t serious-minded political punditry represent the blogosphere’s highest calling?

I read that over a few times in an attempt to locate the tongue embedded in cheek, but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Too bad, as absent its presence the eMailer’s suggestion is thoroughly risible. While it’s certainly true that political punditry, local through global, constitutes an overwhelmingly large proportion of the serious-intentioned writing in the blogosphere, it’s neither the cream of the writing, nor representative of “the blogosphere’s highest calling,” whatever that unintentionally comical notion in this context is meant to mean. Political pundits are the proverbial dime-a-dozen, not only in the blogosphere, but all across the Internet. Check into any one of that legion of Internet multi-discussion message boards, for instance, and you’ll find that, almost without exception, the discussions with the highest message activity are the political ones. Everyone, it seems, is a political pundit, and each has something to say, and typically at length. Significant length. Tedious length. Even mind-numbing length, and even the best of them.

As might be guessed, I’ve remarkably little patience with political pundits, generally speaking, even though I’ve on occasion engaged in past in some political punditry myself on the matters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and our post-9/11 response to terrorism, my excuse for such pundit-playing being that it acted as a vent for my frustrations concerning those matters. But political pundit-playing for me is both atypical and rare.

Part of the reason for my short patience with political pundits generally is that, as I’ve elsewhere made note, he (or she — but the male pronoun from hereon in) is typically highly partisan, so thoroughly immersed in and ensorcelled by the inside-track minutiae and byzantine complexities of the structure of things political and geo-political, and revels so in his own real or imagined expertise in unraveling that structure, he almost invariably misses seeing and understanding the true shape of the structure itself. Political pundits, like all journalists of both the print and blogospheric sort, are devoted to — nay, worship — The Facts. The Facts, it’s imagined by such as these, embody The Truth. Well, the real truth is The Facts almost never embody The Truth. They’re its mere outcroppings or consequence, The Truth almost always lying somewhere beneath — not infrequently, deeply beneath — and hidden from ordinary view. Mistaking The Facts for The Truth, political pundits almost always get it wrong — or rather, almost always get wrong the larger, universal and timeless existential implications, as opposed to the merely transitory empirical effects and consequences, immediate or near-term.

Given those sentiments, do I read, say, newspapers, or watch TV newscasts?

I do. But for the so-called hard news portions only, and even that from only a few carefully selected sources (i.e., selected for their over-time-proven and fairly consistent accuracy).

And how about weblogs, which collectively constitute the blogosphere, a domain I’ve elsewhere characterized as a vast savanna of pundit poop? Do I read them?

Again, I do, but needless to say, not for hard news. That would be patently imbecile.

And what about the weblogs of the blogosphere’s political pundits, then? Do I read them?

Once again, I do on occasion, but only as sources for links, in which capacity they serve a useful purpose. Taken collectively they act as a linked directory to political writings in the blogosphere, much in the same way as the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily is by itself a linked directory to the digitally available writings on the Web which are of interest to the intellectually, um, advantaged, you should pardon the expression. Collectively, one could call the blogosphere’s political pundit weblogs, as do I, The Common Man’s Arts & Letters Daily. I almost never read any of the political commentary linked to, or the commentary these political pundit webloggers sometimes write themselves. But by noting to what and to whom they link gives me a good sense, painlessly, of what’s going on in the blogosphere politically, weblog-wise, that is.

So, if not for hard news and political punditry, what then do I see as the real value and role of the blogosphere; the blogosphere’s “highest calling,” as my eMailer put it?

My answer to that question is short and straightforward: The blogosphere has the potential to become a universally accessible venue where multitudes can be exposed to the work of worthwhile writers in a multitude of fields whose writing, fiction and non-fiction, though of high quality, is for any number of reasons not immediately marketable in the commercial (i.e., paying) marketplace, either mass-market or specialist; worthwhile writing that absent the existence of the blogosphere would go unread and unnoted. And that, to my way of thinking, is a calling of genuine worth, and worthy of being declared “the blogosphere’s highest calling.”

What’s that? Do I think the blogosphere will ever fulfill its potential in that regard?

How would I know. I’m no pundit.

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