A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Friday, June 22, 2007

E-mail Trouble

I'm not the only one. I couldn't be.

I'm talking about send-anxiety. I could be writing the most innocuous e-mail imaginable. You know: "Hello. Dear Mary,. Whazzup? Hi Mary. I was wondering am writing to see if whether you're still interested in joining our the writing group . . . .

But if it's addressed to somebody who is:

a. in the profession (esp. with more experience or authority than I have), and

b. not somebody I already know well

then I am liable to reread the text so many times to make sure it doesn't contain a silly mistake or a carelessly worded phrase that its seems to lose all meaning and becomes mere inscription.

Of course, send-anxiety doesn't happen every time, even when conditions are favorable. But when it does, it's like being sucked into a psychological pothole that could swallow a Mini Cooper. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to send the damn thing. Pretty soon, the entire recursive revise/reread/revise process--itself anathema to most e-mail correspondence--collapses in on itself, becoming instead a blank, affectless staring at a pixelated screen.

Ah, composition.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

¡Ay, caramba!

Dennis Baron reports that congress has made English the United States' national language, requiring undocumented workers to "pay fines, go back to their home countries, and learn English before they can re-enter the U.S. legally."

This law (tacked onto the immigration reform bill, as Baron tells us) is as simultaneously mean-spirited and ignorant as I have come to expect right-wing America to be. [edited: the bill actually enjoyed bipartisan support, but the part about language was tacked on by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), and it bespeaks a xenophobia that has become a hallmark of American conservatism.] Large-scale linguistic trends are both robust and radically decentered, and if the U.S. socio-economic climate is such that Spanish is destined to gain an eqaul footing with English--which Baron says is not even close to being the case, with "94% of U.S. residents already [speaking English], and the rest . . . learning it as fast as they can"--then not even the brute force of the law is going to put much of a damper on the process. (Just ask anybody in the undocumented worker-dependent restaurant industry how much immigration laws affect their hiring practices.) To paraphrase the fictional chaotician Ian Malcom, "language finds a way." In fact, about all such a law could do is push immigration further underground, which would actually create even more illegal immigration.

If conservatives really want to keep them furriners out of the U.S., they need only keep doing what they have been doing since Bush took office--grinding away at our civil rights, our rights as workers, and our access to reasonable health care until nobody wants to come anymore.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


It's summer.

I'm at the office less and at home more. I'm mowing, sanding furniture, fixing up the guest room, grilling pineapple-ginger pork chops. What I'm not doing is reading other blogs. At least, not much, and certainly not with the frequency or breadth I maintain during the school year.

No surprise there. What is a surprise, though, is how much my blog writing appears to depend on my blog reading. While last summer was my first full summer as a blogger, I spent it moving twice (once to Chicago for an interim home base, and then a second time to Ohio) and house-hunting, so blogging was virtually predestined to be very light. But now, with no such ado in my life, I still find myself posting relatively sporadically. It occurs to me that one reason, and likely the main one, is that I am not nearly as regular an inhabitant of the blogosphere as I would be normally. I don't mean to suggest that I only blog when I am directly reacting to a post by somebody else, though that is sometimes the case. Rather, I mean to say that, whether you believe in such a thing as thinking like a blogger or not, for me I have to be immersed in a thing--or, at least, this thing--to feel it (in the pop-metaphysical sense). That is, I have to read others' blogs to be able to truly inhabit my own.

I suspect the same is true for many, and probably most, bloggers. But I wonder how true it is. That is, I know my blogging is usuallty dependent on this pretty straightforward dialogism, but I wonder what other kinds and degrees of dialogism there may be and how they may inform different blogging practices (dare I say different blog-writing processes?).

Any thoughts?

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