The Made-Up Self

January 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

Carl Klaus, author of the brilliant The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay, is interviewed over at The Millions, and both the book and the interview are well worth your time.

Klaus is perhaps our finest theorist on the essay form — smart, widely-read, insightful, and always willing to challenge conventional wisdom.  In this interview he takes aim at the confessional “me-moir” genre and dismisses the oft-repeated notion that bloggers are somehow modern-day Montaignes.

Kudos to Klaus for holding us to a higher standard.

Full Interview Here, and a brief excerpt below:

Well listen, the differences between Montaigne and bloggers are so manifold that I find it surprising that anyone would even think of comparing them – because they have different agendas and completely different ways of going about writing.  For example, Montaigne’s freewheeling style is grounded in an overriding concern with echoing the flow of his thought.  Now the bloggers aren’t concerned with that kind of interiority.  Their writing is largely concerned with topical subjects of the moment, and they have no consciousness of consciousness.  That’s not what they’re after.  Even more importantly, bloggers’ pieces are one-shot affairs, whereas Montaigne took his essays through three separate revisions.  And the revisions were made by additions, by accretion.  He never dropped anything … His concern with consciousness is a concern with representing interiority – that was the overwhelming concern of Montaigne. ‘I am myself the subject of my book,’ he says.  His writing about the consciousness of consciousness makes his essays like a nest of Russian dolls.  You don’t get that profound concern with thought in bloggers. “


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§ 2 Responses to The Made-Up Self

  • Elizabeth says:

    I think these are generalizations, no? Surely there are bloggers who are writing of the “consciousness of consciousness” and very complex interiority. I know of several who manage quite profound exposition that reaches far beyond “the moment” or anything “current.”

  • ginaann says:

    This question is profound and too easily dismissed by many people I think. Isn’t one big difference between Montaigne and bloggers that he didn’t have comments to engage with?

    The addition of comments from readers changes the entire conversation, doesn’t it?

    And, can a blogger have a blog without comments? Is it still a blog then?

    Or does it matter that a blogger blogs with or without comments?!!

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