Hello, internet. It turns out that writing about the world is a thousand times more terrifying and difficult than writing about oneself, and it turns out that I have spent the last ten years as a coward.
When you write about yourself, you are your own universe and your own ultimate authority. No one is there to look over your shoulder and judge you for calling a mud puddle a daisy, and no one is ever going to challenge your interpretation of your life’s own events because no one else was there inside you experiencing what you experienced in the way you experienced it. You are basically immortal and a wizard.
But it takes courage to make a claim about the world that exists beyond your own mind. It does actually take a special kind of bravery to point down at a daisy growing out of the dirt and to say, “That is a daisy right there.” If you claim that something in particular exists or happened, people will ask, “Where?” and, “When?” and, “Do you have any evidence?” If you formulate an idea or put forth a hypothesis, they will probe it gently or not-so-gently with sticks, saying, “But that doesn’t make any sense because I experienced a thing that directly contradicts your idea,” or, “But you have failed to take into account [something extremely important],” or, “You really do not have enough evidence to support that.”
The danger in making claims about the world is that other people can get into their cars and drive out to the field where the daisy you wrote about is located, and they can look down and see for themselves whether or not the thing you described actually has a green stem and petals. And if the daisy turns out to be a mud puddle…then you are just wrong. You just are. With writing about the world comes accountability. Or it should.
I really hate it when people don’t care enough about the truth of things to go and see whether the daisy actually exists or not. It’s all over the paper: “Daisy found in empty field where nothing has grown for 500 years!” They’ve called for a holiday and founded a new political party: The Daisykins. Someone even started a new Daisy religion, and everyone is joining, and everyone is so happy happy happy! But the question that it seems almost no one cares to ask is, “How do we know that the daisy actually exists? Did anyone look?”
I started this blog for several reasons that I am now going to list here:
- I used to think that I knew a lot of stuff about the world. I had a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and I was a high school teacher, and teachers know stuff. But then, through a series of semi-traumatizing events, I saw for the first time how absolutely and embarrassingly ignorant I was of the actual world that existed beyond my vague, agnostic, solipsistic bubble of faux-knowledge that I had built for myself out of a shitty five and a half years of college education. I was an ignoramus. Inexcusably so. But! Since realizing this, I have been trying pretty hard to redeem myself by backtracking over a lot of old terrain and looking to see if any of the ideas I took for granted for so long were ever actually connected to reality in the first place. In doing so, it has started to become exceedingly clear to me that the majority of people who talk about ideas in this world do so with only the vaguest notion of what they are actually talking about. This bothers me. It bothers me so much that I created this blog in order to write about what I have noticed.
- Secondly, if I am ever going to get better at thinking and at writing, I am going to have to get over my fear of disappointing people and my fear of writing un-perfect arguments. I am going to need to at least make an attempt. Please bear with me, as this blog will be a work in progress.
- When I look out at the world, what I hear are many people talking about Democratic Socialism. Based on what I have read about it over a period of about four weeks, Democratic Socialism does not make any sense and neither do the shallow claims made about it by those who are looked up to in society. I have a very strong suspicion that Democratic Socialism is not the daisy everyone seems to think it is, but I recognize that four weeks of research is not enough time spent to know this for sure. This is the third reason why I have created this blog. I want to understand Democratic Socialism, and I plan to spend more time doing so here.
Well, that’s it. I guess there are really only three reasons why I have started blogging again for the first time since I was twenty-four and dumb: to integrate into a more cohesive whole some things I have noticed about the world, to become better at thinking and writing in general, and to figure out what is really going on with Democratic Socialism. The thought of putting forth the product of my own mind to be weighed, measured, and examined is intimidating, frankly, and I have honestly never done this before, so you may need to bear with me a little. In all my years of “wanting to be a writer” and “applying for my MFA,” I only ever wrote about myself.
I should also probably mention that even though the date at the bottom of this post says May 5th, that is not actually the date of this post. Today is May 10th because it has taken me that many days to un-wimp myself. Just so you know.
Thanks, internet. Be back soon.