Saturday, April 28, 2007

Through the Blogging Glass

In a previous post entitled Cybertime, Blogtime I discussed how blogs resemble traditional handwritten logbooks and diaries in that blogs contain a series of entries made in chronological order, and in this sense both types of media generate a sense of time that is linear and sequential. But in traditional logbooks and diaries, we move forward through time as we read from the top to the bottom of the page, then over to the next page again from top to bottom, then, turning the page, again from top to bottom.

But with blogs, we move backwards through time as we scroll down from one entry to the next. And then we click to load a new page with older posts, and again we go from the more to the less recent entries as we scroll downwards. That is why I said that what we call (weB)LOGS can also be thought of as B(ackwards)LOGS. And this represents a new experience of time, a new concept of time, blogtime, a variation on what I have previously referred to as cybertime.

Blogtime brings to mind Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:

Chapter-5 Wool and Water

'It's very good jam,' said the Queen.
'Well, I don't want any TO-DAY, at any rate.'
'You couldn't have it if you DID want it,' the Queen said. 'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday--but never jam to-day.'
'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
'No, it can't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't any OTHER day, you know.'
'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first--'
'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
'--but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
'I'm sure MINE only works one way,' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.

McLuhan was fond of that quote: It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. So blogs constitute a poor sort of memory, don't they?

And blogs take us through the looking glass, or should I say, through the blogging glass. We find another world on the other side of the glass, the screen: it is a world that mirrors our own, yet moves in the opposite direction, where effects precede their own causes. It's a world with a magic ecology that reflects but also runs counter to our own.

We look through the blogging glass and think we see others like ourselves, but maybe we just see reflections of ourselves, hear echoes of our own voices. We go through the blogging glass and become others to our own selves, spirits looking down at our own flesh. And like light through a prism, we are refracted from a unity to a multitude of identities and selves as we move through the blogging glass.

It's quite a jam, won't you join me today?


Luanne said...

It's topsy turvey world Carroll made and a syllogistic fallacy you present: how else does memory work?

Lance Strate said...

You raise a good point Luanne, and of course Carroll had his fun, playing with logic. But we still remember things forwards, not backwards. We play the tape forwards, and we order our memories in succession, we don't remember in reverse mode, like rewinding the tape, and we don't look backwards through our memories from most recent to most distant. If we only remembered backwards, we would have a lot of trouble making sense of the world, don't you think?

Luanne said...

If one could only pull it off, the telling of story this way - it would at the very least certainly be post-modern - you know, like the movie Memento. And hey! Wait a minute - I make sense of the world backwards all the time! It's no trouble at all! ;)

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