Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How I Blog

Very carefully.

I am writing this as a follow-up to "Why I Blog" after the "Why I Work" and "How I Work". Somehow, there is a natural logical sequence to one's train of thought, and the things one writes goes seem to have a life of their own.

It is tempting to treat each post like an anonymous shot into ether, meaning no harm whatsoever except to vent one's frustration. I think this is a very dangerous thing to do. Ether may respond in ways that one can never imagine, and by then it may well be too late - even if one were to say sorry.

The blog is not like the Hyde Park corner-type of freedom of speech one may imagine oneself to exercise. In Hyde Park, one can conceivably stand on a upturned soap box and mouth anything that comes to one's head, and then go home to sleep with the empty soap box. However, one would be very suspicious if one notices that there is a man standing behind the bushes with a tape recorder and taping your little spew - thinking, why are you doing that? In blogging, we are doing exactly the recording ourselves - and I think I should be very very careful indeed which what I am trying to say in my blog, no matter how anonymous one may pretend the blog may be. (Even in newspapers, your anonymity is not protected when a gun is held to the head of the editor.)

I make this point about care because, once in a while, a commentator would remark that my sentences are too polite.

I think one should be polite, or try to be polite. It is the only decent thing to do, to show respect to the reader, as well as the issue that one is addressing. Once that respect is gone, then there is really no point in all the effort that goes into the (thinking and) writing a piece of work.

I always associate writing with effort because Winston Churchill said, "That which is written without effort should be read without effort." The effort is in dissecting the issue in the hope of coming up with an answer to a problem.

I am not sure that I would write in hope of stirring up violence, of which we already have too much - others are doing an excellent job in that without me helping to stir the pot.

The Churchill statement also brings out another point about blogging - how much effort do we require the posts to be read. Most people associate blogs with lightness of touch and content. Even so, posts can be hard to read and understand because they are badly written (typos aside).

There is need for effort to ensure a certain flow of argument and ideas down to a natural conclusion. That comes with a bit of practice (effort).

There are issues that are naturally very involved in concept or implication and these need effort to be drawn out carefully, strand by strand. In this, effort is also required to separate the logic from the emotion or judgement, of which the latter should be reserved in order to let the readers form their own conclusions.

It is only by exercising some form of consistency in the thought process that human beings can each other of the right things to do together, as a community.

I used to lump all the difficult pieces together in order to sustain the flow. This could be difficult for readers when there are many different ideas to deal with. Nowadays, I am a bit more charitable and intersperse the "serious" stuff with "light" pieces like this one.


walla said...

How i comment

('you' and 'i' below are just generic)

Although i should also write in other languages, i choose to write only in the english language for some specific reasons.

The first is that i comment with one group in mind. Those on the other side of the globe undertaking courses conducted in the english language. And those doing the same locally. The reason should be apparent. They are the ones who will have to some day come back or go up in life to handle the legacy and the mess. I hope they will take what i and others write seriously enough to at least compile, print out and discuss with their groups and native lecturers or advisors to such an extent that they will get additional inputs and fresh perspectives; to make things easier for their mentors, thus in the english language.

Secondly, i try to invest my comments with links to some pieces of knowledge. All are in the english language; thus the same choice.

Thirdly, i have this nauseous habit of not telling you what those links are all about; they're mostly pdf files and they open to something which i hope those who are audacious enough to click on them will find their content useful. People have been kind to post them, i should brave censure to find the links. The reason why i do not tell you in advance what they are should be obvious: i want to give you my moment to remember the day. It's not much, i know - the surprise i expect you to show when you click 'enter' - but that's all i can offer. Of course, if you are already incurious about things, you can always ignore them.

Not here but in another blog, i sometimes make comments as a dialogue between two or more 'persons'. The dialogue is almost socratic. I try to argue both sides out honestly, letting the argument flow rationally.

Why do i do that? I do that to preempt all arguments so that i can get to the heart and essence of the matter. I want to argue against my own stand to see if it's just a sentiment or a rationally defensible situation on the other side of the argument. I want to taste the polarity of things. So that other commentators on reading my argument can also put in their pieces in addition to mine, having been given thoughts from me on the stands, thereby maximizing the efficiency and completeness of each argument. Having thus explained so, there are still some who have complained such pieces are too long and long-winded. They miss the strategy completely.

Yet another technique i have used is to ask questions in my comments. The questions are actually like boomeranging statements. Negative questions imply positive statements.

Why do i do that? As far as i know, no one can (or should) be nabbed for asking questions. People can be nabbed for making statements. But questions?

walla said...


These are the methods i use to help bloggers and other commentators develop the theme of their topics and arguments. I derive no personal satisfaction. I only comment because there are issues which i feel deserve to be debated clearly and rationally. I try to add my own thinking and style. I mean no malice but i don't like anything that's hypocritical, leading to bad results affecting all. I write for the rakyat and our nation. I write for the young and the old. I write for you.

Now, why am i writing this particular comment? Not for want to explain my methods in order to put in place those who respond to my comments (not here but elsewhere) using their techniques of specious comments, ad hominem attacks, even vain attempts to twist my arguments around by their methods of flamebaiting, deflections, denials and obfuscations. Having seen through them, i walk away from arguing with them point by demolishing point. It's a waste of time.

I am writing this particular comment because there is something else i want to say under this topic. I am just feeling sad that coming to the fifty-third year of our national independence, we are still worried that those who are rational and concerned for our nation and our peoples have to be worried their thoughts so enunciated will be used with malicious response by those others who tend to low culture power.

How did we come to this stage where fear that cause them to be so, and that fear is terminating our nationhood, is moving into our own domain of intellectual honesty and energetic defense of what is good and right, contaminating our own spirit of progress, making us look at our own shadows, worrying whether what and how we write or express ourselves will ruffle feathers, stir emotions, trigger sensitivities? Isn't it in the first place such irrational things which are the cause of the fears and the situation that they have brought to befall our nation all these years?

I don't write about things that work; those can take care of themselves; i comment on problems, issues, distortions. I try to find the connections. I am interested not in an acre here, a hectare there. I want to see the whole landscape.

But i think too many of those problems et al are still around because people fear to bring them up like how they had been fearing all those years, and they fear because there is a system which hangs like some sword of damocles over our heads still, when blogosphere should be enhanced by intelligent discourse to shine light where there remains so much darkness. Maybe if we had blogosphere thirty years ago, today might be more different for all.

I don't think all this is any cliche about utopia or idealism. I think it's all about being pragmatic about matters and one imperative for us as a nation is to really make all the necessary changes to re-enable ourselves as good citizens of the world. We have too many unnecessary hang-ups. We seem to be unable to be serious. We don't seem to know the real standards and how the world progresses. And we don't seem to have any credible capabilities. Anywhere.

Unbeknownst to many, i have actually written ..must be by now...over a thousand comments. Yet i don't have my own blog. Maybe that's a saving grace. As much for my own health.

I am writing this talking to you. Both of us are unknown variables in an equation yet to be written out.

Like life.