Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | January 7, 2008

Onan the Parrot’s Blog

A friend once got on to a train and found himself sitting opposite a mum with her little girl. The girl stared directly at him and said “Mummy what’s that man for?”

This could have plunged our friend into an identity crisis, but instead he reveled in it as a moment of existential bliss.

Asking the simple question “what is something for?” is so powerful. And I think it’s helpful to question new media too. I’ve been questioning this media of blogging since I started a few months ago. ‘What is it for?’ brings up new answers whenever I contemplate it. A friend told me they thought blogging was ‘wanky’ and I used to think that too. But calling the ‘front-line’ blogs coming out of Iraq or China onanistic is definitely missing the mark. And while some blogs might be self-indulgent, onanistic even, we don’t have to attend to them, and if the writer wants to indulge themselves is that really a problem for us? Let them carry on pleasuring themselves, at least they’re not wandering the streets, and maybe they’re having fun!

Heaven knows what this blog is (let alone what it’s for!), but my father had a nice image for it: a cafe where one drops in to read a paper, look at a  bit of the world go by, or chat with a friend or stranger…

An image that came to me today is that of a microcosm – a blog can reflect the world in some of its richness, silliness, depth and diversity. It doesn’t necessarily have to ‘hang together’, be thematically consistent, or have a ‘structure’.

For someone who has to write within structures for much of their day, the unstructured nature of this medium is sheer joy!

N.B. The title is a reference to the well-worn Dorothy Parker joke: when asked why her parrot was called Onan, she explained it was because he kept spilling his seed on the cage floor.


Responses

  1. Great post, and ‘what is it for’ is a question I ask myself often as I blog. For me it is an escape from academic writing or business writing and a way of exploring and really witnessing my own life. Nothing makes you examine your experiences more than writing about them.

    I have also learned more about myself by blogging than I ever did in therapy 🙂

  2. I blog about things I am thinking about so I don’t annoy the daylights out of everyone around me by making them listen to me rant. In that sense, I guess it serves as a safety valve.

  3. For me my blogs (Yup, I have two!!) are there for three purposes; to allow me to explain some of the wider aspects around some of the images that I have used on another website – the general feelings, impressions etc – without compromising the other website too much; like Thud I can use as a safety valve; thirdly I can use them to detail evenings, camps at my Scout Troop – and create challenges online that the Scouts can take part in (which also creates a resource for other leaders to review)


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