I'm kinda thinking about sticking the fork in this thing. Or, more accurately, I'm thinking about reconjiggering it to the point that Grad Student Madness would cease to exist as it is now. It's getting to be a bit of a slog to write & post this stuff, and I think it's all a bit unfocused anyway. If it's less-than-pleasurable to write, it must be no fun to read. But, even when it is a blast to write, I tend to be voluminous- sort of the anti-Twitter, and I am told that blog posts should be short and pithy. I lack pith. Thorry.
My idea, when I first started blogging, was to both chronicle the stress, boredom, and very great joy of graduate school, as well as advocating for changes in an academic system that is more dysfunctional than I had ever imagined as an undergraduate. I would be a crusader, like some of my favorite bloggers at the time and readers would flow like wine.
Crusaders make for interesting reading. Tacitus has a great line about this: "Sed ambitionem scriptoris facile aversis, obtrectatio et livor pronis auribus accipiuntur, quippe adulationi foedum crimen securitutis, malignitati falsa species libertatis inest." My translation skills are still crappy, but the jist is that we easily reject a writer's flatteries, while our ears are prone to accept spite and disparagement. And why? Because adulation is akin to the foul crime of slavery, while spite belongs to a false sort of freedom. Critics seem more independent-minded somehow. Some of the most entertaining blogs are written by crusaders.
Alas, I got off-topic in my crusade. Blogging also encourages mental wandering. This seemed perfectly appropriate for a blog about grad school, which also encourages mental wandering! Blogging about politics instead of dissertation-writing? Join the club! Eventually, I got to the point I'm at now, in which I explain to people, "Well, it's called Grad Student Madness, but it's not really about that..."
Sometimes, I still write about the maddening mess that is American academia. But, like most people in that system, the problems are so large and sweeping that actually describing how to solve them would take a book (yet another book on that topic!) and actually solving them would require starting over from scratch. Someday, I'd love to have the funding to found a new university. But a blog chronicling my gripes seems only enjoyable to the anti-academia cranks, who have plenty of other blogs on that topic to read. All I have to say on the topic could be summed up: I'm probably too old-school for the new school. Or maybe I'm too new school for the old school.
Quite often, I write about politics. The problem here is that many bloggers write about US politics and they're, again, a lot more focused than I am. You know what you're getting with Liberals Suck dot com! I'm sort of decisive and partisan on some issues. But, the truth is, I think that the Democratic government is doing a mediocre-to-lousy job so far, and will probably just get worse, while the Republican Party has ceased to have a viable governing philosophy of any kind. So, I'm not a great tubthumper. The Huffington Post has not come calling.
Actually, the things I really enjoy writing about these days are all cultural: movies, books, paintings, and history. I could go on all day about that stuff. The drawback there is that you get a lot less comments. Write that you think "health care is a human right" and at least one person will leave a comment, even if just to tell you that you suck. Write a post about the joys of Tacitus and what can the reader really say about that? "Yeah, he's cool"?
Ideally, I'd like to redo the whole site as an encyclopedic guide to the art, literature, and thought that turns my crank- sort of my own western canon (and sometimes eastern). Maybe call it Everything Good. I'd like to make it look better than this blog and foster a sort of ongoing conversation about the things that I can talk about all day, but know no one in Hamilton to talk about them with.
But, the real challenge is getting readers. For that sort of project to work, you'd need active comments and a good number of regular readers. Right now, I'm too lazy to do the dishes, much less get another blog going and advertise the thing.
So, stay tuned.