March 23, 2010

Whether blogging is a waste of time or not

Is blogging a waste of time? Yaacov’s answer is,

All of which is to say that I ought to blog less. Blogging is so intensely a matter of the moment, so irrelevant two days later, that it has to be a waste of time. I’m not saying I’ll stop, but I ought to.

As for me, I think you can guess what my answer to this question is. First of all I blog a lot less than many hyperactive bloggers—well, I might justify myself by saying that I don’t believe in quantity, but this might sound presumptuous, and that’s why I prefer to say that I have a lot to attend to… Second, this is “a war blog,” not my random thoughts and whine blog, if I may say so myself, I mean it’s—right or wrong—against something and for something. There are so many things worth fighting for! How could I give up the good fight?

However, I couldn’t agree more with Norm when he says, “I’m struck by the ‘all of which’ that frames this, though. For it refers to... the histories of Venice, Florence and Jerusalem!”

Yes, Venice, Florence and Jerusalem. Yaacov, in fact, has just come back from Italy:

We started in Venice. A place like no other I've ever seen. Created after the fall of the Roman Empire, the town flourished for a thousand years as a republic while the rest of Europe went through the Middle Ages. It was easily one of Europe's largest towns, doing a roaring business sitting astride the lines of commerce between Europe and the East. It was a hard-nosed and stern place, not to say cruel, and it's goal was to be rich. The accidental discovery of America was partly the result of the search to find a way around Venice as the middle-man of trade with the East; it worked, though not in the way anyone foresaw, and Venice spent the 17th and 18th centuries magnificently living off its accumulated wealth. Napoleon ended it in the 1790s, and ever since it has been essentially a tourist attraction, no more.

For all its longevity, splendor and uniqueness, it's hard to think of anything of lasting value that it created, except for the city itself.

From Venice we went to Florence. Technically older than Venice by many centuries, Florence compressed its historical role into a few centuries, most famously the Fifteenth. Yet what a role it was: a small town that would fit easily into southern Manhattan took human history and diverted its direction. Not in one field - say, the ability to represent reality in art - but in many. The Florentines redirected literature, and art, and science, and philosophy, and the art of governing - and banking, too, though the bankers are a bit unpopular lately. They invented the Renaissance, those Florentines, and that lead to the Enlightenment, and to Capitalism, and Democracy, and Socialism, and Fascism, and Communism and Nazism... and if you think the present war between parts of the Islamic world and humankind isn't a direct result of the fact that some folks followed Florence and others didn't, well, I don't know why you come to this blog.

Well, now I know why I came across that blog, which unfortunately I didn’t know about until just now, and why its author ought not to stop blogging!