I was not as disappointed as I expected to be after rereading my past blog posts and comments. Most of all, I was happy that they seemed, in general, to make sense. Making sense, or having a particular focus or argument that I stick to and develop is not always easy for me in my writing. I think the casual nature of the blog form, somewhat unexpectedly, allowed me to do this more easily than usual. I think I like being liberated from the stricter form of the essay, where a specific thesis must be proposed and then rigorously developed. When I begin to write an essay, I usually know very little, and I like to merely ask a question and then explore it as I write. The blog better accommodates this more exploratory, casual, kind of writing, than the scholarly essay, I think.
Still, I do not think my first post was quite focused enough. When I had to tag the post, I was not quite sure what tags to use, because I did not know exactly what I had written about. Looking back, I can tell that I was trying to write about the nature of theatre as ‘useful’ illusion (for escapism or what have you), but I got there obliquely through thinking about the conspicuous number of disguises in the play. I didn’t really have a plan for what I was going to write about, I just started writing, and I think that shows a little bit.
I like my second post better, because it seems to be more focused and more clear. I wrote it with more enthusiasm, because I was already interested in what I was writing about before I started writing the post. I still think it’s a bit wandering and uncertain, as when, for instance, I talk about how language both can and cannot refer to the true essence of a thing. I don’t know exactly what that means, or what I was talking about, but in general I think my analysis of Juliet’s distrust of language was relatively comprehensible, particularly since I used some illustrative (though easy to find–“what’s in a name…”) quotations from the text.
I struggle to be clear and focused in my writing, just as I struggle to find actual knowledge or understanding. When I know what I’m talking about, it is easier to write clearly. When I don’t know what I’m talking about, which is all too often, my writing is naturally less comprehensible.
But, conceptual clarity does not directly result in linguistic clarity, for me. After I know what idea I want to express, there still remains the difficult task of turning those thoughts into sentences and paragraphs. I’m pretty concerned with the craft of writing. I want to write sentences that make sense and are stylistically sound. This usually takes more work than I am willing to put forth, however. I think the casual nature of the blog both hinders and helps me in this area. While I am not as motivated to write with competent style in a blog post, I find that the laid back approach to writing a blog encourages a more conversational tone, in which it is sometimes easier for me to write. Perhaps the expectations are lower in a blog post, too, so I am not too disappointed with my lack of stylistic and conceptual competence.
I’m not sure there’s any real pattern in what I’ve written about. In general, I think I’ve written about what interests me in the plays, i.e. certain characters or themes. I’ve written about language multiple times, and I am somewhat conscious of my interest in language. Is language an empty system of signs, or a supremely powerful tool? Most of the plays we’ve read seem to explore this issue. From the emptiness of names in Romeo and Juliet to the time-stopping power of the king’s word, language seems to have myriad capabilities. Language is particularly important to people who study and write about literature, since it is the material out of which everything we care about is made. It may be easier for me to analyze my own language than it is for me to analyze Shakespeare’s, but at least my blog posts and comments seem to be relatively coherent in their explication of some specific aspects of the plays we’ve read.