Billmon Drops Out; Pause, Breath, Revelation
Billmon was one of the great pioneers of the form we call blogging, and now he's gone on perminant(?) hiatus. He left behind an editorial in the LA Times which takes the blogosphere to task in essance for selling out.
On the one hand I don't think quitting because the revolution seems to be on hold is really top form. I understand that the pressure is at an all time high, but one would think the syndrome Billmon decries would be all the more reason for him to get his voice out there. On the other hand I do from time to time feel like I've lost some of my authenticity. Hence this series of confessions.
The beautiful parts of the past year and a half, my great adventure in politics and blogging, have mostly been human. It's been about the relationships and the personalities and seeing through them to a better future.
The web is crisscrossed many times over, and though it's complecated like that, I wouldn't have it any other way. Back when I had time for things that made me feel good, I used to run a little performance art variety party called axiom with my friends in NYC. On the last performance night, just before I took off to California for the Summer of the Hassle and then to work for MfA, Frank and I did a piece that incorporated work by Billmon. He was in town, so he showed up for it. It was a great night:
The atmosphere was friendly, but also had moments verging on the revolutionary. Frank and I set a tone early with our quasi-political pomo comedy routine which incorporated a little scene by Wonk Web Celeb Billmon. We were basically talking about our own amateur wonkishness vis-a-vis that of a true warrior, and we included a scene Billmon wrote that we thought was kind of fun. Billmon took video, so maybe some of that will surface. We were experimenting with getting into political territory without making anyone uncomfortable, making it something that people can then talk about, pioneering.
Over on BopNews my pal Matt is wondering what it all means. Noting that "the blogosphere has not produced its Hunter Thompson, its unique and compelling voice, its own sense of difference, its own politics." This echoes thoughts I've had.
Matt, if I told you when we were up there in the echoing upper decks, watching Kerry give his acceptance speech I was squirming in my little blogger-ally bench seat under the sharp press of clean Tennesee LSD -- which is true -- would that make any difference? It wouldn't, I think, because I kept the experience to my self. For fear of embarassment, job security, or something along those lines, I held something back because I internally judged it improper. Without all the professional relationships I'd built in the past year, I would never have been able to sneak my way into the Fleet Center, and the desire to protect and retain those relationships kept my trap, for the most part, shut.
In Augusto-Boal terms, I let the cop into my head.
I haven't the gusto to get into it now, but I will say that my trip -- the whole 18-months as well as the psychadelic flashes -- has been a full and rich tapestry that some day I will meticulously and brutally document. It might perhaps have an outside chance at claiming redheaded stepchild status vis-a-vis Fear and Loathing, but I don't know. There's plenty of grist for the mill, but I'm just not that good a writer yet, and in spite of my declared allegance with the truth, stepping into the naked lunch in the way I'd need to to do it right is a frightening prospect after a year of career.
But it's got to be done. I need to get out front or else the odds are I'll just wind up another cog in the machine. That would be like death. It's a hard thing when you realize the right path for you is not going to make you financially secure or roundly well-liked. I flashback to Baadasssss at this moment. After the 2nd I will need to go to the desert.
Blogging for me is an extension of an old aphorism that I've been living with since childhood. Don't get a job, get a life. Matt notes that we all need to get paid, but wouldn't it be great if you could collect a paycheck just for being yourself? That was the promise, and there was an idea that this promise would marry with next-generation politics and something really beautiful would be born. Instead we've got what we've got, which is anything but pretty. It's hardly even fun anymore, this election-time blogging.
The question before us is this: what do we do in these last five weeks. I think we cut loose.