Saturday, December 15, 2007

Posting less

I'm going to post less here. Not necessarily nothing, but less. Here's the problem. The original idea back in fall 2006 was to fill in gaps in the English-language Iraq news with a limited amount of Arabic material, more or less a diary of reading I would be doing anyway. What I now understand, and didn't understand then, is that what goes by "English-language Iraq news" is usually little more than a vehicle for the denigration of Iraq and Iraqi groups (Informed Juan consistently going after the nationalists as part of the what he now calls "Sunni Arab guerilla movement"; various bloggers generating page-hits by ridiculing "Mookie" and by extension the blue-collar Shiite organizations; corporate media and the think-tanks making sure any Islamist resistance groups get confused with AQI; and so on). At first I thought these were just occasional riffs; the pattern only gradually dawned on me. As everyone knows, when something is dawning on you it can be interesting, but once it sets in it can become depressing. It also dawned on me that the only way to contribute something is not to try and fill in any gaps anywhere, but rather to confront this head-on, by trying to convey what it is the various groups are all about, what are they actually saying, what kind of a world do they see. To re-represent, you might say, the world of human meaning in Iraq and among Iraqis that the corporate media and the others are continually working to ridicule.

This however presents a number of problems, the most important one being this: To do what I have in mind is going to require a lot broader and deeper reading than what I had in mind back in fall 2006. Right now I don't have enough Arabic to do the job under my new definition, so this is going to require me to do some restructuring. Up or out. There are other problems too, but that is the main one.

I do have a few thoughtful readers, I understand that. I'm grateful for them, and they're another reason I'm going to try and pull up my socks and do this right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given your previous translations I think your Arabic is great so i don't think that should be a deterrent . As for your point regarding how the media is intentionally misinterpreting the events and accounts on the ground and its not just a mistake. That is all so true which is why you see all the frustration in the Arab world. This has been going on long before the Iraq affair in both Palestine and Lebanon and to an extent its why the Arab causes are so weak; they haven't been able to harness the power of English Media Machines ....

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, I really hope you don't give up...
I can imagine that it is frustrating and a bunch of work, but your blog is such a precious source and so different from others.
If you post less - o.k., but please don't stop for good.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Judith Weingarten said...

Why don't you add a 'Subscribe'feature, so that we can get email alerts when you do post. Otherwise, readers will simply stop dropping in.

I'll be your first subscriber so do it, please.

2:59 AM  
Blogger Dubhaltach said...

Keep up the good work as much as feel you can.

Judith Weingarten:

AFAIK doesn't allow email subscriptions. But if you look at the address bar you should see a small orange and white icon - that's the link to the RSS feed from the site. Any time badger posts the feed is updated. Using either feedreader software or somnething like yahoo or google's free feed updates on their homepages you can check for updates every time you log in to those services. Hope this helps.


4:14 AM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

Badger, I understand your frustration. I am sometimes so overcome with a sense of futility that I wish I could just forget about it all and do something else with my life.

But look, don't let a desire to do it "right", or as fully as it needs to be done, deter you. Do you have any idea how important your work is, even if it is not all that is needed to counter the nonsense?

And when we have "Iraq experts" like Juan Cole who, with all respect for what he DOES have to offer, has never been to Iraq, does not understand it at all, and appears only able to interpret the information he receives through American, not Iraqi, eyes, and the very heavy filter of some deeply held biases. How someone can realistically be called an expert on Iraq without ever being there is difficult for me to understand. On the other hand, I am not convinced he would really "get" Iraq even if he lived there for decades. Being intellectually "informed" is not enough to make a decent analysis of Iraq.

The bottom line, Badger, is that I am begging you not to let the government, the media, and "experts" like Juan Cole go completely unchallenged. Don't let the desire for perfection be the enemy of the excellent, or even the good.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

Well, THAT (above) was kind of lacking in coherence, but I think it was reasonably clear.

10:36 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Thank you all. A few points:

(1) My Arabic really and truly does need upgrading (not because I'm making mistakes, but because it takes me too long to get stuff right), and what I have in mind is a period of immersion (no Badger jokes please), because it really has become intolerable for me not to read more stuff and faster and better, and so on. However,

(2) Not just from the comments here but elsewhere as well, I get the feeling of some kind of a duty to keep up the struggle. Which is good in a way, much better than being completely irrelevant. I just want people to know there will be less posts as I get ready for my "restructuring". I know it's frustrating to visit a place and seldom find anything new, so be advised. If you can make the RSS work, so much the better; if you want to just come by once a week, maybe that would work. I think Dub is right that there isn't any "subscription" function in blogspot. The thing is, this whole fixation on page-hits and visits and so on is kind of insidious. It tempts people to keeping on talking just so people know they're there, whether they have anything to say or not. (Some people do the every-day thing well, but for me it's tough). If there are a dozen people reading stuff with understanding, for me that's much better than thousands of [words deleted here].

Nowadays people seldom take stuff at face value, but in this case I really and truly do need to do Arabic immersion; and I really and truly do intend to continue posting stuff here as long as that's possible. It's also true, as Shirin and others noted, that I'm discouraged and sick to death of all the things we're all sick to death of, but I guess that's part of what we all have to deal with, no sense being petulant about it...

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can actually subscribe for email updates to a blog using feedblitz ( ) just go to the bottom of the page and add the address of this blog to the subscription box ( ), then on the second page add your email and your done .

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Hannah K. O'Luthon said...

Thanks to "anonymous" for the link to feedblitz, and special thanks to Badger for trying to raise the quality of our information about Iraq. I'll be looking forward to your future efforts, at whatever rate they may appear, and thank you again for what you have already done.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous G Hazeltine said...

I absolutely agree with Shirin's comments. This blog is extremely important. There isn't another place to get this kind of commentary. Most people have tremendous difficluty with complexity. Cole is one of them, Badger is not.

9:35 AM  
Blogger annie said...

you are on my tool bar and i check this site all the time and will continue to do so. wild horses couldn't drag me away.

forever in debt.

1:12 AM  

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