I’ve been thinking a lot about why I find it so hard to blog. I mean, plenty of other people do it. They get out a useful, interesting article every day, every few days, every week. They are semi-regular. Why can’t I do it? Is it because I lack accountability, because I don’t have visible constant readers who are actually interested in what I’m saying?
No, I think it’s because of Postmodernism’s influence on the discipline of Academic writing. Just humour me for a second, okay?
So, as those of you who haven’t just randomly stumbled upon this post probably know, I’m currently working on my PhD topic approval applicationy thing. I’ve been doing my preliminary research, and I’ve taught my two fabulous supervisors something about topics they each didn’t know (one is from a multimedia/interactive design background, the other comes from History with a focus on feminism in Science Fiction and has a partner who did his PhD on board games). But what else did I learn?
That academic writing used to be the most awesome, drivelly, hilarious, ungrounded load of walk-in-the-park writing EVER. Well, except for those French Academics, whose writing makes you feel like pulling out a handgun or at least going straight to Wikipedia to get someone else’s synopsis and significant quotes. Fuck you, Caillois and your discussion on kites. Meanwhile, my favourite writing so far has been Lev Vygotsky, whose lecture from 1933 is so random and unedited that he mentions “Piaget’s latest work” without citing it, as well as mentioning offhandedly some other paper that the translator guesses at in the footnotes. No references, no quotes, nothing. Just good ole Vygotsky ranting for a while.
How incredibly freeing. An argument might be highly constructed, or it might meander, or there might be none at all, just a few clever thoughts linked together by the idea that the topic is being explored. And how different to today’s academic writing. How different to me being told, “you have to make your writing so dry that in the end, you want to kill yourself.” I think my version is more like, “so dry that I amuse myself with just how wanky and clinical and pompous I sound,” but yet when I mentioned this, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to appear to be any of those things, just to be dry and clinical and logical, like a report on an X-File as written by Dr Scully and her glasses.
What does this have to do with Post-Modernism? Well, I’m not going to quote anyone, and I’m not going to let myself be accountable for anything. Because stupid PoMo tells me that nothing I say is new, my ideas are not mine, they are the product of someone else. This makes it great when I’m doing my research and I think, “yes, but who inspired Huizinga? Was he really the first to make mention of the significance of play being performed in a constructed reality?” But it doesn’t make it great when I want to blog. I stop and think, “I should check this out before I write it, otherwise I might come across as stupid.” You know, just like those people whose articles on *cough* a well known Game Studies/Dev/Whatever site I read and get angry at because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
So now I’m going to end my rant in no particular way, yet another element of my beloved 1890-1950 academic writing style. I’ll write something equally unfounded or backed up soon.