Oh, God, I have no idea, Jennie. It just happened. I certainly didn’t expect to be having to have an opinion every 25 minutes about things I obviously cannot be an expert in.
I think a lot of writers feel that way. A couple of weeks ago, I heard James Fallows speaking to a group of China experts at the Hay Adams hotel, and he kept prefacing his comments by saying, “This is my opinion as of noon on October 16th. I might believe something completely different in the future.” For you, though, it’s quite literal—your opinions and ideas come out with an actual time stamp, and people monitor them hour by hour.
And you make errors. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was grappling with the nomination of Michael Mukasey. When he first started talking, I was like, “Good God, this is fantastic.” After a couple of days, having read the testimony, thought about it, and raised different views, I came to a different conclusion.
Anybody whose instant response to events is the only response they ever have is—well, George W. Bush. You never have to revise or reconsider anything you’ve ever said or believed because there’s no such thing as a mistake; there’s no such thing as doubt. There’s just “truthiness.” That’s why Stephen Colbert is such a genius, because he’s captured the essential insanity at the heart of our culture right now.
So, yes, you have to get off your high horse, you have to accept that you are going to make a fool of yourself. But you know, having done it now daily for seven years, it’s hard to know how it’s changed me. I’m too close. And after all, the thing about blogging is that it’s never been done before. So we don’t know—we may all end up going mad. It gets pretty close to that at times. Even when people wrote fantastic diaries in the past, they didn’t expect the whole world to be reading each entry that very day.
And they, or someone else, had the chance to edit them before they were published.
Well, the great thing about Samuel Pepys’s diary, for example, is that you find, “I’m never going to sleep with that whore again”—two days later, “I slept with that whore again”—two days later, “I will never sleep with that whore again.” You can see the human being—inconsistent, incoherent, and, to some extent, a mess. But that’s what a human being is.
I like the way Whitman put it: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Right. It doesn’t mean that Pepys was stupid or that Pepys couldn’t, in the long run, deduce certain coherent ideas and argument and thoughts. It just means that when you live in the world—a temporary, provisional world—you’re a temporary, provisional being. I think the blog, in its defense —my blog at least —is very candid about that. It doesn’t pretend any great deal of authority.
Do you think the blog, as a news source, is ever going to replace the newspaper or the magazine?