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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


In your writing you are creating a mask. I've heard some anonymous / pseudonymous bloggers say that not signing their name allows them freedom to create a persona apart from their other identities. I've never felt that myself. Your persona should be an idealized, better version of your self. If you are peevish, reactive, ironic, or mean, by all means let some of that into your writing, but not too much. If you are generous, effusive, enthusiastic, don't repress that. If your style is peevish, pedantic, and mean-spirited, but you are not, then make those adjustments. If you emphasize pragmatism in your real life, and write abstractly, maybe there is something wrong.


Thomas said...

Yes, I considered contributing to the blogosphere anonymously at first, and also when I got involved at Wikipedia. My excuse was "it's the ideas that matter". But it isn't. You are crafting a position. It does not take long before where the words come from help readers glean their meaning.

Also, I knew that anonymity would give me too much freedom to screw around. The mask would quickly become grotesque. The only way to build a persona is to work on your self.

Thomas said...

And the real difficulty of self-fashioning arises in public.

Jonathan said...

Yes. Look at the unattractive personae of College Misery, for example. Anonymity encourages people to present less congenial versions of their selves. Grotesque indeed.

Clarissa said...

My blog is kind of anonymous. But I'd never be able to create a persona that wasn't truly me and maintain it so consistently.

College Misery is really scary sometimes. Do the authors really hate their jobs so much? Why? And if so, why do they stay? Nobody should be so miserable and spread their misery to innocent, unsuspecting students!