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.

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 yawp — 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