The thing about blogging is

The Strolling Musicians

The Strolling Musicians, ca. 1635, Rembrandt van Rijn

On his blog, Tom Armitage writes a sub­stan­tial appreciation of the TV show Halt and Catch Fire. Here’s a small part:

Drama is largely about con­flict and tension, and how that can be resolved: suc­cess­fully for all, or with win­ners and losers. Char­ac­ters change (or they don’t) in order to get what they want. But Halt does some­thing more interesting: characters also change because life happens, and it changes them. It plays out over about 12 years, and one of my favourite things in the show is how the char­ac­ters age, how they escape their old loops, how they become more themselves, and where they end up.

As you know, in my house­hold we recently finished rewatch­ing this show, too. Yesterday, Kathryn sighed: “I wish Halt and Catch Fire just went on forever.” There’s no other show, no other tele­vi­sual story, quite like it.

On his blog, Alan Jacobs writes an ecsta­tic appreciation of a par­tic­u­lar per­for­mance recorded nine years ago by Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma. His enthu­si­asm is deep and convincing:

You should notice even at this early point the essen­tial role played by Edgar Meyer’s dou­ble bass. Through­out the song he moves with per­fect flu­id­ity between bow­ing and plucking, always in a way designed to accen­tu­ate the beauty of his colleagues’ play­ing and the rhythmic integrity of the per­for­mance. He is the most musical of bassists — nothing is mechan­i­cal with him, every­thing he plays is melod­i­cally and rhyth­mically delightful. If you can lis­ten to this on speak­ers that offer a rea­son­able degree and qual­ity of bass response, please do.

This is the kind of artis­tic X-ray that makes you want to seek out the subject, put the flesh back on the bones. Which is what I did, and: I loved it.

The thing about blog­ging is, you can just write about the things you love. A “professional” “critic” (scare quotes because who even knows what words mean anymore) has to do something else, some­thing more difficult: man­age a kind of unfolding … aes­thetic … worldview? Bal­ance one thing against the other? A blogger suf­fers no such burden. A blog­ger can simply

  1. love a thing, and
  2. write about it.

Sometimes this writ­ing takes the form of, basically, an appre­cia­tive yawlp — I feel like that’s me, more often than not — but other times, it’s the best, most pen­e­trat­ing aes­thetic analy­sis you’ve ever read. And it’s like, this was just in there? Waiting? And if not for that blog, nobody ever would have heard about it?

A net­work of blogs, a Republic of Newsletters, a pub­lic sphere: each can and should be a lot of dif­fer­ent things. One of those things is often, happily: an ency­clo­pe­dia of appreciations.

March 2020, Oakland