September 13, 2016

On Futility

I should have known better.

I was right the first time.

I dramatically cut back on blogging here (2010ish) in part because the effort seemed futile.

To that point I had created what I think is an interesting body of work (might even be a book in here somewhere). Several academic essays, a book chapter, and an encyclopedia chapter came from it. I achieved tenure at Missouri State University in part because of Rhetorica. There’s nothing like daily, written engagement to keep you focused and help you develop ideas.

Rhetorica began as “Timeline” — a blog at my Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2000 site run on the servers of the University of Missouri – Kansas City as part of a graduate project in rhetorical analysis. Rhetorica is one of the oldest, continuously-published blogs on the internet.

I am very proud of it.

I’ve attempted a few times to re-jump-start it — the silliest of those attempts being the “doom files” days. But that silliness actually said something important about where my head is and has been.

Blogging about the rhetoric of journalism and politics these days is simply an exercise in frustration and futility. Donald Trump is the final nail in a lot of coffins. Our civic discourse is damaged — potentially beyond repair. Political journalism doesn’t have the tools to help correct it because, frankly, political journalists are a big part of the problem and seem unable/unwilling to understand how and why. They are slaves to their master narratives and biases.

No amount of blogging is going to make the slightest dent.

Rhetorica will remain open as long as I have a credit card that works. And I will, from time to time, post things here.

But the main project is finally over. It’s really been over a for many years now. I wish I had had the grace to realize it and close the lid.

Here’s another “but” and a hopeful one: Carbon Trace Productions is now the main creative focus of my life — although not necessarily the associated blog 🙂 My 60s are going to be my documentary years!

Last year my team of students and I completed our first documentary short entitled Shared Spaces.

This past May we completed our first feature documentary entitled Downtown: A New American Dream. It is an official selection at the 2016 New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles next month.

We also have projects working about the student debt crisis, the Trans-Siberian Rail Road, and homeless cargo-bikers who make their way picking through our dumpsters.

The Rhetorica Network will remain my main brand. I’m not sure what that means 🙂

5 Responses

  1. Just to say—I miss your blog. I have recently started up my blog again after a year or more with only frequent notes, and I have to say I have largely given up on the political-rhetoric stuff I used to write about. I just don’t enjoy the technique of a well-crafted political speech the way I used to. Such speeches still exist, of course, but they exist in such a depressing context that I somehow can’t be bothered to write about them. And indeed, I think there are few people still around blogging about such things to engage with, if I did. So I sympathize entirely.

    Well, anyway, my point was just to thank you for the years of blogging, back in the last decade, and wish you good luck on your future endeavors.


  2. anna 

    Sad. 🙁

    I noticed the comments are off, on the Carbon Trace blog.

    What is one structural change that could be implemented that would improve the level of political journalism that reaches an average person in the U.S.?

    Where is journalism as journalism being discussed today, that isn’t driven by current events?

  3. anna 

    This DeLong post seems kind of crucial –
    Very Brief Musings on Democracy
    about what our options for the future are, and what we need to do to get to one that preserves democracy.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on it, and how it would play out in someplace like Springfield.

  4. acline 

    -V Thanks for your participation o this blog. I appreciate it very much.

    Anna… re: structural change That’s a good questions, and I don’t have a good answer. If I were to begin muddling through and answer, I’d probably begin with something about how we pay for journalism — the business model that supports it. And re: where it’s discussed today Well, hmmmm, I’d like to say in universities, but that would be bull. Well, some classes/professors would be better in that regard 😉

  5. acline 

    The comments on Carbon Trace turn off after 14 days. Anything new will have open comments.