Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A question of style

A reader of this blog, the composer and essayist Michael Kowalski (see his marvelous essay, "The Curatorial Muse"), checked in with me recently by email to chide me a little, but gently, on the question of style.

The question Michael raised is, as he put it, "the tension between the breezy, conversational style and the difficult ideas, punctuated by the esoteric asides," which, has, he went on to say, "a bit of a tease to it"

Well, guilty as charged, I'm tempted to say, and let it go at that, especially after my overly-exuberant post on "telling about society," with its esoteric asides on Locke, Eliot, Husserl, and the like.

So — on the one hand: apologies for that.

I certainly don't want to lapse into that sort of name dropping that manifests itself conversationally in such gambits as "well, I was having lunch with Adorno last week and he said, over kritische veggie burgers at Chez Bien Pensants (you know the place I mean) …."

On the other hand — what is the style appropriate to an intellectual blog that, however, wants to be read more in pursuit of the difficult ideas and less, in fact not at all, for its own difficulties?

I'm aiming for that "breezy, conversational style" in the hopes of getting a clear view of the "difficult ideas," in much the same way as I hope to present clear views of the difficult subject of New York "in plain sight" in my "subjectless" photographs.

But I suppose one can over do it. I surely can.

Another aspect of this blog, something I'm aiming for, is to make it a kind of almost stream of consciousness diary of my own thoughts and activities, more or less usually focussed on the New York in Plain Sight photographs or problems or issues related to them.

Not that I don't edit, but I do mean to leave it relatively raw, without a lot of wordsmithing.

The "esoteric asides" of course can quickly degenerate, as I suppose they already have from time to time, in the direction of mindless name-dropping and showing off, but then, if that's not altogether true — and I hope it's not — then how to point in this that or the other direction, possibly even esoteric direction, without making an even bigger deal of it, which would surely be counter-productive?

As usual, I'm going to beg off with the excuse that I don't know ….

But I do want to offer the hope that it's possible to take ideas seriously without getting all po-faced about them at the same time (not that Michael, who has a delightful sense of humor, was suggested anything of the kind).

As with everything else here — and possibly everywhere — we'll just have to keep going and see how it turns out.

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