January 2, 2020
The Great 2020s Blogging Revival Starts Here
A glimpse of the Oculus, February 2016, during a hardhat tour of the complex.
When I started Tweeting in 2013, I stopped blogging.
I think many of us — maybe most of us — did. We moved from hammering out thoughts on our own websites to making quick hits on social media. Whatever blogs remained were professionalized, less about the exploration of half-formed ideas and more about monetizing them.
Back in April, I was on a panel discussion for the launch of a book, Culture is Not Always Popular, a compendium of essays from one of the first (and still extant) design blogs, Design Observer. And, in front of an audience, I declared that a blogging revival was imminent. This declaration was based on nothing except wishful thinking. I promptly forgot that I’d said it. Months later, one of my students, who was in the audience, reminded me and told me I should tweet less and blog more. I agreed. I still agree. Although I wasn’t even sure I remembered how. But I thought I’d give it a try.
I’ve been upstate, in the western Catskills since Christmas Day and have watched a few movies including The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest epic about the mob. And what struck me about that movie was the smallness and meanness of the mobster worldview. The narrative framework is a road trip undertaken by a mob boss, Russell Bufalino, his chosen hit man, Frank Sheeran, and their respective wives. While most road trip movies might celebrate the unexpected pleasures of travel or present a string of adventures, the recurrent activity on this trip is Bufalino collecting envelopes of protection money from a series of sad small businesses.
What’s profound about The Irishman is the way it depicts the limits of the mobster worldview. It’s all about squeezing as much money as possible out of the system and keeping enemies at bay. There’s no glamour, just ugly, unenlightened self-interest. It’s hard not to view the movie, set in the second half of the 20th Century, as a parable about the present moment, about the narrow, parasitic way our current president and his cronies see the world. And, of course, anyone with such a limited field of vision is incapable of understanding or doing what needs to be done. A mobster president is, by definition, not the kind of leader that can advance the changes that might save the planet and its inhabitants. The mobster president can only aggressively advance — and profit from — the interests that are so obviously destroying it.