I’ve had a few conversations about this here website of late, conversations with folks who seem uncomfortable with the personal nature of some of what I’ve blogged here. Nobody’s upset with me about having been indiscreet, or about having said something about them that I shouldn’t have. Rather, they’re concerned (albeit in different ways, and for different reasons) about my level of self-disclosure, and particularly with the ways that such disclosure might interfere with my professional self-presentation.
I’ve spent the last few days of silence trying to figure out how I feel about their discomfort.
The part of me that’s held off on posting anything takes these concerns seriously, and has tried to think through the question of how much I want to reveal here, and why, where I cross the line, where the line lies, and what purposes, for that matter, the line serves. Much of the rest of me is having a hard time not finding this anxiety — both theirs and my own, as spawned by theirs — quite hysterically funny. Because, yeah, I often post here about things that one might find a bit “personal,” at least in the sense of not being about work.
I’m just not sure why anybody would be surprised by that.
Because, damnit, isn’t part of the point of the blog that the personal and the public (and thus the personal and the professional) are so mutually implicated as to be inseparable? That intellectual life is a profoundly personal experience, and that our lives outside the seminar room are as much in need of examination as anything inside it? That, as Dr. B has at moments been fond of saying, academics are more than brains on sticks? That our desire to distill the purely professional for public consumption, casting aside the personal, participates in the myth of the neutral, objective, disinterested scholar that we’ve done our best to reject on a theoretical level?
Isn’t part of the point of the blog — or at least this blog — the liberation of the personal from the slag-heap of academia, and an exploration of its co-implication with the professional?
I’m in the midst of a project that’s primarily about personal blogs, the ways that such blogs are dismissed as a kind of neurotic oversharing, and the reasons that such dismissals are a huge mistake. And the purposes such dismissals, whether meaning to or not, must serve. So I’m realizing that the main thing that all this concern about my dangerously unprofessional self-disclosure is making me want to do is theorize that writing, by bringing parts of the article I’m working on here for some early-stage discussion.
We’ve long since forgotten that the personal is political. I’m not sure why it surprises me to find resistance to the notion that the personal might be professional, as well.