To whom it may concern

July 30, 2011 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Dear all,

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m shifting some of my (obviously marginal) blogging activity onto another site. As witnessed here, a lot of my blogging has always dealt with socio-political and economic issues, and I wanted to create another domain where I could address those issues more fully and more purely and with less of the “personal” touch that was behind the creation of this blog (ostensibly as a means of documenting my experience abroad, although that was rarely the case in practice). Thus I’m making an attempt to separate the “personal” from the “political,” Carol Hanisch be damned, and however difficult that may be in practice.

An element of this decision has to do with my increasing uncomfortability vis the manner in which social networking (and blogging, etc.) leads to the production of self as sellable “commodity.” (For more on that, see this or this or the whole damn site really.) I feel like personal blogs, and sites like Facebook, take something that is natural and desirable and human –the desire to connect, to share with others– and transforms it into something unnatural and undesirable and inhuman. Human relation and commodification are, I would argue, inherently opposing tendencies, but social networking collapses the distinction between the two, transforming our desire to reach out and (metaphorically) touch into the desire to reach a target audience and sell – both in terms of the way the self is sold, and in terms of how these sites quite literally profit from our activity, in terms of ad revenue, etc, as a pervasive form of immaterial labor.

The upshot of this is that this blog, which was designed to reach out to you –to a community of people I know, and love, and trust– has come to seem both alien and alienating. While my own chosen community is now scattered at various locations across several continents, the attempt to address you all generically and collectively (and yet, paradoxically, personally) has made me feel rather more isolated than less. The blog form lends itself inherently to soliloquy rather than dialogue, and maybe it’s just that I’ve become more interested in real, specific, human conversation than in speaking a lot of hot air, and into thin air. While I miss very many of you, very much, you cannot authentically say “I miss you” to a blog.

I still feel like this format can be useful for addressing political issues, which by nature demand a broader audience – hence the new site. The political problems of our time are so egregious as to demand collective action and general consciousness-raising by any means necessary; and, while I have no illusions of success, I feel compelled to try to do my part. But I would like to separate out that process –as it were, my public persona– from my private and personal life. For so, so many reasons. Primarily, happiness.

This decision coincides (more or less) with the end of my séjour in Holland; I will be moving back to the States in mid-September, which will give me the opportunity to see many of your actual faces that I so actually miss. As for anyone else, I’d encourage you to keep or get in touch by other means: e-mail, telephone, or carrier pigeon. I have been better recently about my correspondence, and have largely succeeded at domesticating a pair of neighborhood doves, who might prove trainable for courier purposes.

For the rest, those of you who are interested in political analysis from a fervently anti-capitalist perspective are more than welcome to check out my new project here; the ultimate goal of that project is collaborative –to build community, in every sense– so I would more than welcome your feedback or even your writerly participation. Meanwhile the apolitical and the differently politically-abled are invited to stop by this current blog, still, when whimsy dictates; there’s a possibility I will be updating sporadically, if and when the mood takes me.

In closing, thank you, and go love life.



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Bennett Carpenter
Leiden, Netherlands

Random musings about literature, art, politics and (occasionally) my life as a graduate student in sunny Holland. Click on the pic for more about me.


July 2011
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