Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bloggernacle/cathedral/"Cathedral" parallels

After doing some more research and reading the awesome responses to my last post about how/if the bloggernacle is a community, I think I want to argue that the bloggernacle, like a cathedral, is not a community itself, but a place that facilitates community, and has a similar effect on people that drawing the cathedral with Robert has on the narrator of "Cathedral" (or something like that. I'm glad we have more time to hone our arguments). Here are some interesting parallels between the bloggernacle, cathedrals, and the story "Cathedral" that I found today while reading "The Bloggernacle Scares Me," a post from a few years back on Mormon Feminist Housewives:
  • Post #5 says: "I have always felt pretty isolated both physically and intellectually from the saints. When I found the bloggernacle almost two years ago, I felt like I had found a whole new world that was glorious! It was like my eyes were opened after years of walking around in a haze." Before his experience with Robert, the narrator of "Cathedral" was isolated physically and intellectually. Blindness and sight is another major theme in "Cathedral" since the blind man Robert teaches the narrator to "see"
  • Post #3: "I used to fantasize about a “safe place” to learn and grow in these areas…and for me, that is what FMH is." Cathedrals were considered sanctuaries
  • Comment #9: "It seems Mormons, even on the anonymous internet still love to cling one to another and have a hard time letting others in." A comment on my last post defined community as "an insular group gathered together." When the narrator's wife asks what he and Robert are doing as they draw, he kind of ignores her.
Anyone have more parallels, or suggestions on how to make my argument more argumentative?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

E mail to the Mormon Archipelago

Since I am now looking more into the bloggernacle and connecting it to "Cathedral" and the symbolic value of the cathedral as a place of communion, I've been exploring the bloggernacle. An important resource I found is the "Mormon Archipelago," which describes itself as "a gateway to the Bloggernacle...designed to be a useful real-time guide to the best Mormon blogs" where "Recent posts from these blogs are aggregated and divided into separate groups (of "islands") that make it easier to keep the most recent content available." I'd like to email the people who run this site (and perhaps some major Mormon blogs like "Feminist Mormon Housewives" and "By Common Consent") and ask them questions like the following:
  • Where did the name "bloggernacle" come from? In what ways is the "bloggernacle" conceptually similar to a tabernacle, cathedral, or other place of worship/communion?
  • How does the "bloggernacle" create a sense of community that would be impossible through other mediums or settings?
  • How is the personal or the sacred mediated electronically, authentically? (From Gideon Burton's comment in response to my post "Bloggernacle")
Any suggestions about how to improve these questions? Or even better, any additional questions, perhaps some that would help with others' research projects?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Anonymity and Community

As I started to explore in my last post, I'm looking into the Mormon "bloggernacle" and moving away from Raymond's "Cathedral and the Bazaar" because cathedrals aren't usually "carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation." In reality, and especially in context of the story "Cathedral" they are community efforts. As Dr. Burton said in a reply to my last post, "the building of a religious edifice as an act of community (and community building) is well established." I found a quote today in Reading Raymond Carver by Randolf Runyon that goes well with this idea: "In a question and answer session at the University of Akron in 1982 Carver said that in his view to build a cathedral was to engage in a collaborative endeavor" (185). The bloggernacle is definitely this type of endeavor. What's more, Runyon later quotes Carver as saying "You don't know who built those cathedrals, but they're there" (185). I think this relates to the anonymity of the the bloggernacle. Just as Robert can connect with the narrator even though he can't see him, I assume that contributors to the bloggernacle rarely see each other face to face, and yet they build a community. How does the anonymity of the web affect the relationships that are formed there?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Another possible connection between "Cathedral" and new media I've been thinking about for a while is the Mormon blogosphere being known as "the bloggernacle." In the story, drawing a cathedral with a blind man becomes an almost spiritual, transmormative experience for the narrator. Like cathedrals and tabernacles are both places where people come together to commune with eachother and with God, the "bloggernacle" is a digital place where people communicate with eachother about God. Feedback?
pic from

Tool or Distraction?

I just read this article, "Solitude and Leadership," by William Deresiewicz. He claims that America lacks leaders, defining leaders as people who can think for themselves. Deresiewics places part of the blame on social media: "Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else."

He also claims that not only does social media keep us from thinking for ourselves, but thinking at all: "Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube."

This raises some interesting questions for our class: Is social media a key to thinking, or a distraction from it? So far in this class, has social media been a distraction or a help in your research? Have you spent more time learning how to use Diigo or setting up a blog than thinking about your topic?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The "Cathedral" and the Bazaar

So, most recently I've been looking at Eric Steven Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar." As I shared in class on Monday, I applied Raymond's ideas about open source software development to literary inquiry. To modify Raymond's words, scholarly works should not "be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation, with no [draft] to be released before its time." Instead, scholars should "release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity," their research and writing process resembling "a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches." Now I am trying to connect these ideas to Raymond Carver's story "Cathedral." The fact that the story and the article share a title begs to be explored further.
Check out my side column for links to a summary of the story "Cathedral," the article "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," and the google doc I made applying "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" to literary inquiry.