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On Friday I went to a keynote address by Andrei Codrescu at the NC Writer's Network Conference. Codrescu talked about the notion that "the reader is dead." He claims that the reader is definitively not dead. Instead, the forms of consumption have changed--writing has moved from print to internet and also (especially) blogs--and the reader has moved with these changes. The "reader" of literature, who can be distinguished from readers of romance novels or historical non-fiction, primarily consumes the blog and the online journal.

Codrescu considers bloggers "monologuers fed by weaker creatures," these weaker creatures being non-writers. True, anyone can have a blog and spout opinions, and blogs widen the opportunity for (a diversity of) readership drastically, but, as he even recognized, communities of bloggers tend to be organized around a particularity—such as poetics. These groups that are formed within the wider public sphere of “blog” tend, I think, to separate the (mere) “monologuers” from those who serious artists and critics.

Codrescu criticized the relentless nature of the weblog, the manner by which bloggers are constantly online, attached to a keyboard. While berating the ridiculous all-consuming nature of the blog, in terms of its sense of self-importance and its time-commitment, Codrescu also recognized that the act of writing itself is often narcissistic and relentless.

So is blogging any different than old-fashioned paper and pen or even composing by computer? I think that the breakdown between blogs vs. writing for Codrescu was a question of intent and art. For whom are bloggers actually writing? Can a blog with its stripped-down graphics and bare appearance honor the writing therewithin? What is the intent of the blog? Are bloggers more interested in creating a community than making art?


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