Thursday, July 10, 2008
(11:12 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
ArroganceOne of the most frequent charges levelled against bloggers is arrogance. At the same time, it is among the most content-free charges possible. On a certain level, the very act of having a blog is arrogant in so far as it means assuming that people want to read your thoughts. Even worse is forcefully arguing in favor of one's own beliefs: yes, of course, you, the Mighty Blogger, have sole access to wisdom and generously enlighten the peons.
The very act of stepping into the public square, the very demonstration of even the most minimal degree of self-assurance, is an unpardonable sin. We must all be humble agnostics -- so it's no wonder that woman bloggers are subjected to greater harassment and vilification, given cultural expectations of female passivity.
Bloggers with academic ambitions are often subjected to an appropriately nuanced version of the arrogance charge: they are pretentious. Again, this charge is completely content-free, completely unrelated to any notion that someone is pretending to be something they are not. In fact, if one has read all that one claims to have read, etc., that is even more pretentious, because intellectuality can only ever be a put-on. (See the entry for pseudo-intellectual here.) The very claim to have an interest in the intellect is inherently overblown, and so any particular instantiation of that interest necessarily falls short of the implicit claims to genius, world-historical status, breaking the history of thought in two with one's every word, etc.
The charge of "pretentiousness," of course, is a simple application of the same logic that leads to the general accusation of "arrogance" -- it punishes a particularly offensive claim to be a non-humble non-agnostic.
What's more, since everyone is presumed to be a humble agnostic, the very attempt to be anything but that is implicitly a claim of superiority over the unwashed masses. Thus the very act of publishing a blog is, paradoxically, an anti-social activity -- a "fuck you" to the general public. Fuck you, you ignorant depressed people, fuck you all -- I am going to make you listen, I am going to inflict my thoughts on you from my godlike perch, I am going to hit you over the head with my rightness until you bleed.