The disparity of culture

Andrew wrote a well-thought and concise editorial here. He observes the spread of microblogging among more prominent members of the anime blog-sphere, and argues that these probably have come into existence because these prominent writers are often recognized with their styles and have been known to write such and such as conventions. This allows them to be unique with regard to other bloggers but also sacrifices their ability to be creative with their posts, as their readers often recognize them through their styles. While I cannot speak for Paul, I think I can speak for Daniel.

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(Daniel has agreed with this impression of mine generally, but he adds that this seems to be the case only for English literature-cum-language courses in the UK, and does not include Creative Writing courses.)

I have been speaking with Daniel these past few days. He has become freer with regard to time because he no longer has to deal with academics for the time being. We often talk about anything (although I won’t give anything specific), but there was this time where we chatted regarding our styles. It was at these talking points where I realized that the British culture was truly disparate from the Philippine culture especially with regard to writing and literature, which both of us are fond fans of.

These were purely my observations (but I think these have merit because Daniel himself recognized and somewhat corroborated them), but Daniel writes like that because it is the ethos of his course. When he let me read one of his essays, the way he writes is the summation of everything that he has learned with regard to English and its writing. I will not in any way castigate Daniel, but let us admit: while his writing is lucid, sharp, and highly analytical, it doesn’t really shimmer with much life: his writing is punditry at its finest; with regard to entertainment and scintillation, however, other blogs must be looked at. He subliminally proves this himself: if one looked into his blogroll, he writes:

I try to imitate these not because I think that so-called ‘editorial’ blogging is better, but because it’s what I can do.

There is more to this statement than meets the eye. It is truly only what he can do, and what he can do with excellence. His ‘microblog’, then, is just some form of quintessence from the episodes he has seen: it’s like bullets to his outline which will later on become the full-fledged post.

He is conventional in his blogging because it’s what he excels at. Daniel doesn’t mind repetition, and he’s moderately successful (look at all those comments!), so why does he need to change? I disagree with the fact that Daniel wants to be freer, though. He’s a very free guy, and writing like the literary critic he’s training to be is I believe what he feels to be the best for him.

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On the contrary, while most of my posts are serious ones, I do believe I am quite flexible with regard to my style. I can attempt to write philosophical disquisitions; I can write light-hearted posts; and I can also write short and long posts. I do believe that I’m flexible in writing like this because this flexibility is what is taught to us in our literature courses. When I offered the litterateurs an essay which I needed help at, they were surprised at my gall to use I‘s in my essay. To them it has never been allowed, and never was condoned. While in hindsight writing like that was a risky move, it did serve to pad my essay and contribute to it an individuality which I hope also permeates in these blog entries of mine.

Here in the Philippines, I believe we’re taught to write as a means of having a living; in the UK ([again] caveat: in a lot of English language-cum-literature courses, at least), from what I’ve observed, they’re taught to write analytically and are restricted to only reacting with the text that is required of them. That does not foment or foster creativity, however. It fosters thought; it fosters accuracy; but it does not allow creativity to bloom. In the end, graduates will become (at best) literary critics recognized by a small circle of people. We are taught here, however, to write as creatively as we can (majors of literature, English, or creative writing). Our conclusions are centered within ourselves and only partly with the texts: the I‘s that I’ve used not only represent padding an essay, or gauche writing: it also represents the amount of freedom that is fostered in our culture. I wouldn’t have realized this had I not conversed with people outside and totally separated from the Filipino culture, but I have become more grateful now that I realized that there are also things which I, as a Filipino citizen, have to thank the Philippines for.

I have a style, and it’s a style I’ve grown by myself, but I’ve been free to write as I pleased while not following any single convention. To do that is just sad – which is also the reason why I’ve never needed a miniblog. 🙂

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29 Responses to “The disparity of culture”

  1. notdotq of the rebellion » Trolling across Space-time markets; also, lolikit pikchur Says:

    […] Anyway, I think I’ll leave off with a bit of metametabloggery. What follows is a quote from anime|otaku. He is conventional in his blogging because it’s what he excels at. Daniel doesn’t mind […]

  2. IKnight Says:

    I am Daniel, and I endorse this message.

  3. lolikitsune Says:

    I can see that you think you have a great deal of freedom. “The reason … is because” ? Lrn2English, etc.

    To be more on-topic…
    I don’t really know what there is for me to respond to, here. I am not familiar with your culture and I have not experienced college in any culture. I blog very freely, with no miniblog or anything, but I also rarely blog seriously, so there’s no point in me establishing a coherent style.

    I mean, I always have dotq.org for when I want to be serious. not.dotq.org is one big joke.

    Any suggestions?

  4. Sasa Says:

    IKnight, I think people hate your nick or something. Why is everybody jumping on the Daniel bandwagon? But then again, I know that Mike likes his real names *g*

    Also, great post, and… I am actually glad I don’t really have a style.

  5. Michael Says:

    @Daniel

    <3

    @lolikitsune

    This only corroborates the fact that you are awesome. Thanks for the correction - I never knew it was a redundancy until you pointed that out. Cheers to the man who got an 800 in writing for his SAT.

    We never had that, so I'd never know. But . . . damn it, stop trolling. 😛

    @Sasa

    Thanks. 😀

  6. Hige Says:

    Well observed about British Literature academia. Your perception is exactly why I’m a terrible academic and why I’m glad to be rid of it all. I found it very difficult to disassociate in my academic analysis and the atrocity that was my Lit Theory final grade is a particular testament to this. The process /was/ useful in how it taught me to separate thought and feeling, but I never truly acclimatised. Never was there a class essay that I felt completely satisfied with by its end. The sterility required to genuinely excel in academic Literature (at least in Britain) just isn’t in me. If only I were born Filipino, eh.

  7. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Academia is why I hate literature. Oops, did I say I? I mean, Academia fosters hatred of literature.

    I’m jealous of the Filipino way. I want to like books. I used to. But now I can’t.

  8. The Postmortem of Culture at Rainbowsphere Says:

    […] just wrote an interesting article about how the blog ecosystem concerning the miniblog populace is affected: Andrew wrote a […]

  9. TheBigN Says:

    “they’re taught to write analytically and are restricted to only reacting with the text that is required of them. That does not foment or foster creativity, however. It fosters thought; it fosters accuracy; but it does not allow creativity to bloom. ”

    This is why I hate that type of writing, though I’m apparently pretty good at writing in that way (back when I was a high school senior, getting a 750 on the SAT II Writing Subject Test was the most surprising thing I saw in a while). But you can see the influence that that style has on my posts sometimes, the most noticeable being the organization of my posts, if not in format, than how many paragraphs that I’ve used and such. But while it will define my structure, it doesn’t define how I write things. I just want my posts to make sense and to express my ramblings accurately, no matter how short and long the posts might be.

  10. Lelangir Says:

    The sphere is starting to remind me more and more of academia, or at least through what I’ve heard my professors bitch about.

    There is sort of an “unspoken” norm (in academia, the US at least) wherein professors have to write – they must produce some sort of product every so often (I don’t know how often). So then, as some professors say, other scholars will feel pressured, churn out a piece, and get scorned by their sphere for defecating instead of enlightening. Are these microblogs self-appeasements for a “pressure” to produce? Maybe that’s my own weird view of things, but, if so, then while a blogger’s own culture may seep into this sphere, our own subculture seemingly dominates and continuously reformulates our own conceptual systems and norms.

    Blogosphere/Blogademia/Blogintellegenstia. I’m thinking this relates to the organic intellectual in some way.

  11. Nagato Says:

    I mentioned once that all your posts give me headaches; I stick by this statement. ^^;

  12. Ryan A Says:

    Great stuff, I read early but didn’t get a comment in ( there was a party to attend ^_^ ). The points made are solid, though I’m not acquainted with Englight/lit/writing academia; humans are born to communicate, and writing is one of the great facilitators 🙂 Basically, I don’t have any say in the validity of it all, but style and material were my preponderant questions of this past week, and I feel this post.

    These are why I enjoy the editorial.

  13. Aloe Dream » Blog Archive » Meta-Again Says:

    […] did a fab writeup on blogging and style. I am in total alignment of the notions, but the meaning I found advocates me […]

  14. Martin Says:

    I dropped English after GCSE (age 16, for you non-UK folk) and have regretted it ever since. Not only does the science career path have fewer employment opportunities than you’d expect, it crushes the creativity out of you; not to mention the fact that I miss the opportunity to read and write things.

    Technical writing is the opposite of creative and literature-related writing; you’re forced to draw attention to facts and keep the word count at a bare minimum, and heaven help anyone who expresses personal opinions. Half of the reason why I started online reviewing and editorials was to experience the love for writing that I experienced at school.

    In other words, the waffle and half-baked opinions of my blog is an exercise in getting my old self back 🙂

    IKnight’s writing style is, by the way, intelligent but reasonably accessible; he’s carved a unique niche for himself in placing Japanese popular visual culture alongside traditional literature and highbrow critique – it’s a strange yet endlessly entertaining combination that makes it one of my favourite blogs to read. Where else will you see Gundam and Homer mentioned in the same paragraph?!

    I also know your REAL NAME (even though I publicly display my own…)!

  15. IKnight Says:

    @ Martin: Thank you for the kind words! I aim for a fairly high (sometimes playfullly so) diction and wide vocabulary, and I refer to a lot of literature, but I try to avoid words which only an English student would understand. And if there’s a concept which I don’t think I can explain in the language of normal people, I don’t use it. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, but this post (of Mike’s) has been an interesting exercise in self-examination.

  16. usagijen Says:

    I obviously don’t have a blogging style now too, hence I usually find myself in a dilemma with my multiple-blogging personas, and I sometimes get worried that people find that odd, weird, etc… like I have a bunch of serious well-thought posts, then another bunch of random fangurl raves (this will comprise my ‘noise’ posts? 😐 ) so yeah… I have to look at this in a positive light, and what the heck, just blog what I want~! I have to cutdown on the rant and raeg posts though… .___.;;;

  17. usagijen Says:

    P.S. great post! 🙂

  18. smashingtofu Says:

    Writing that adheres to any convention or rules have always contributed to my depression in middle school/high school -_-

    So, I usually write with abandon, for better or worse I don’t know. At the very least I try to keep things consistent in my writing despite knowing little of any rules in writing in general.

    I’d like to add that reading your posts has upped my badass writing/vocabulary by several million notches! : d

    Great post!

    Great picture! *the first one, who happens to be drawn by one of my favorite artists*

  19. Pontifus Says:

    There’s a very simple solution to the problem of rigidity, lack of life, and disregard for the reader/consumer (those people who are the reason entertainment exists in the first place) in literary academia.

    People like us need to become professors.

    I can vouch that what you’ve surmised about lit programs in the UK also definitely applies to lit programs in the US. If I decide I have it in me to go for the Ph.D., I’ll be writing about all manner of uncouth things, for sure. Lit programs are in serious need of revitalization; there’s a reason they’re decaying into nothing.

    But what do I know? When you brush away my academic veneer, I’m a fiction writer, and Barthes says I’m dead.

  20. Michael Says:

    @Pontifus

    Oh, I won’t want that. But I’d like to revitalize our academia as well.

    @smashingtofu

    Thank you for the praise. 🙂

    @usagijen

    I agree. Just blog whatever you want. 😀

    @Martin

    He’s very analytical, and also very accessible. Of course, I don’t need to tell him he’s intelligent. 🙂

    @Ryan

    Thank you.

    @Lelangir

    We can never be entirely rid of our own culture. See Joyce – even if he thought he hated Ireland, the fact was that he couldn’t write anything else except about it.

    @Nagato

    ~_~

    @Baka-Raptor

    Yeah, I appreciate the Filipino way especially after observing the disparate cultures in the academia of different countries.

    @Hige

    YOU CAN COME HERE AND VISIT! 😀

  21. Michael Says:

    @TheBigN

    Sorry, I thought I covered all the bases.

    Your posts make a lot of sense to me. 😛

  22. Dave Charleston Says:

    So many comments… but no one actually is pointing out how good Andrews editorial is the link in the actual post is pointing to… Thanks for that!

  23. vendredi Says:

    Speaking from only minimal experience here, I might posit that it might have to do, perhaps, with how English is used in each country?

    The United Kingdom, after all, is the “birthplace” of English: everyone speaks English, everyone can write English, and so forth. Consequently, perhaps the idea of creative writing in English is perhaps more taken for granted. Creative work is not really seen as something that can be taught; the idea being that “that sort of fun stuff you do in high school, but here in university you do serious work.”

    Granted, English is a pretty major language in the Philippines too, but the language education from what I know strikes me as a little more polyglot, having to pick up Tagalog (which is itself a mix of Spanish and the original native language) and potentially Chinese (depending on school). Teaching expressiveness in each language is possibly more important as a result, because you can’t assume the same proficiency with one language or the other.

  24. The Otakusphere: Micro-blogging, Identity and an unhealthy dose of navel-gazing. « In Search of Number Nine Says:

    […] recently there have been at least a couple posts about the nature of micro-blogging and its place in the […]

  25. anime|otaku » Blog Archive » Between knowledge and entertainment Says:

    […] one thing, the incident has recalled to my attention the disparity between the British culture and the culture anywhere else in the world. Sterne entertained a lot of […]

  26. szakal161 Says:

    I can tell only that English leng is popular in Europe because of UK and USA that’s are two nations who use weary similar leng. but I don’t know how is in USA but In UK People dont know how to write in english 2 well, Ok I understand that I cant do it good ass well but Im not from UK or USA , BUT 4 example in Spain ppl don’t know English ^^ hmmm most of them don’t know ^^ yeah but English in the most popular leng now ^^

  27. How I Failed Axiology 101 « The Animanachronism Says:

    […] problem I have with what I’ve written here, however, is that I don’t obey it. As we discovered a while back, I don’t revel in flair, if I do make qualitative assessments I make them brief […]

  28. Jennie Escalante Says:

    I completely agree with the above comment, the internet is with a doubt growing into the most important medium of communication across the globe and its due to sites like this that ideas are spreading so quickly.

  29. slacker Says:

    Interesting column , I am going to spend more time researching this topic

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