Acting on a suggestion from my friend L yesterday, it occurred to me that I could try to make use of this erstwhile neglected semi-pointless blog space that no one knows about to include my below the line comments that I am frequently impelled to post in the reader comment section of Guardian articles. These are only snippets. They may make sense out of context. I have already posted a few earlier comments here, but why not make a thing of it.
Even as my world has been shrinking over the past two years — essentially stuck on my sofa in front of an iPad — my interests have become embedded in a wider world of events past my own body, my field, my inner life. Some of this is technology. The iPad in particular has connected me up, enabled me to keep up with the varied responsibilities of my job, made me more visually orientated, enabled me to keep typing nearer the speed of thought even as my paraneoplastcally disabled hands have progressively lost the ability to manage on a regular keyboard. I am typing this out on my laptop and it is slow and error strewn because my fingers can’t reach the keys properly and every little joint is inflamed and in pain. My more elaborated ode to the iPad appears in the introduction to my book because credit where due.
The comments section of online news, or at least that section of the Guardian is a significant space for a number of reasons. First is that it is a more heterogenous, heteroglossic space (to reference Bakhtin) than one might expect. It is international, oppositional, contestatory, and inclusive of self selected readerships that are not necessarily centre or progressive left guardianistas. Second is the way that debates on particular issues often progress to exchanges of thoughtful, gleeful, sometimes borderline mean, amusing pedantry about what conforms or not to valid conversation, evidence, knowledge claiming, or indeed to guardian standards for below the line commentary itself. There are wonderful exchanges about rhetoric and reasoning and falacious argument. They are my personal favourites and reading them makes me glad to be alive and restores my hope for the world, even in the face of the unending cascade of bad news and badly filtered filters that fill out the news itself. Then there is the news, the tropes and rhetorics and tones of reportage — and my own partisanities (i made this word up) provoked into speech — Tory policy on everything as it destroys democracy, education, the health service, the welfare and rights of the many, the social contract itself; political corruption, the gross spectacle of Trump and the obsequious avid media machine purveying him, media framing, media ethics, the fallacies of false equivalence, the shrinking state and the hate. A place for my skills to deploy in bites, in conversation in a public that is more public than the niche publics I usually engage either through my job, or through scholarship, or through my spontaneous rants to individuals on the telephone or via Skype or at gatherings (I sometimes used to go to gatherings).