Slow Blogging and the Long Take

Recently, I’ve been mulling over the notion of slow blogging, a movement that is gradually gaining attention. I first read about it in a blog I frequent.  In her post entitled “Slow, Stefanie has drawn out the essence of what slow blogging is. It’s all about thinking through, reading and studying in depth, chewing and digesting, and finally putting something meaningful down in words. I don’t know who initiated the idea. It may have sprouted up from various bloggers, those who care about the quality of their writing, and the effects of their posts. I urge my readers to visit the Oxford University Press blog post on the subject, and the Slow Blog Manifesto.

Yes, a Slow Blog Manifesto, written by Todd Sieling dated back to September, 2006. But for some uncanny reasons, just as I was working on my draft of this very post, after I’ve linked the SBM to my draft, it has now been taken off the WWW.  Hope this is not an omen of things to come.  Fortunately, before its disappearance, I had the chance to read and mull over his words:

“Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy.  It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.”

(It’s back!  Todd Sieling has just re-posted his SBM. He has created a whole new site just for this.  Click here to go there.  You may want to read his comment at the end of this post. I’m just going to leave the following paragraph as is.)

But then, all is not lost.  Barbara Ganley’s BGBLOGGING is still standing.  Ganley had taught writing at Middlebury College in Vermont for some years until quiting her academic job in recent months and ventured into uncharted personal exploration.  She is an advocate of slow blogging, and related the idea to the term meditative blogging, way back in November 2006.  Here’s the link to that post.

After more than two years, the notion has finally reached Arti of Ripple Effects. As my blog name suggests, I thrive on hindsights and delayed resonance. I may not have immediate response to all that I come across, but for those ideas I find stimulating, I would delve into and mull over, research and read about them, sometimes for a long while, before I dare to put thoughts into words. I’m glad I have finally found a name for the kind of writing and thinking with which I feel most comfortable all along.


And that is why I find a recent article in the November issue of ‘The Atlantic’ so disconcerting.  In his article entitled “Why I Blog”, Andrew Sullivan , the prominent political commentator and blogger, describes blogging as postmodern writing that thrives on its immediacy. By nature it is rash and temporal.

“It is the spontaneous expression of instant thought. As a blogger, you have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts.”

What Sullivan is pronouncing is that you may have an instant platform accessible by all in the blogosphere, and with links authenticating your sources, but what you write is as ephemeral as your breath, as unreliable as your mood, and as momentary as your fleeting thoughts. Time is of the essence in the blogging world.

I can understand such a perspective may apply to political and news blogs, where bloggers’ views and comments are almost on a par with professional journalists, or where bloggers are journalists, such as Sullivan himself.

But I’d just like to remind Sullivan that there are also those of us for whom blogging is not about beating to the punch, or channeling rants and angsts, or climbing to a higher ranking and authority. What we write may seem like ramblings at times, but they are thoughts that have gone through regurgitation, pondering, and conscious self-censure. For the writing I read in some of the blogs I visit, their quality is not undermined by the self-publishing nature of blog writing.  Their message is no less important, their style no less eloquent, their impact no less powerful than many conventionally published materials.


Around the same time, I came across the post on the long take in Brett McCracken’s blog The Search. Do click on the link there to read the whole essay when you are there.  The long take is a technique where a camera follows its subject for an extended period of time without cutting, capturing life in real time. Viewers looking for instant gratification and fast actions would often find the long take boring, incongruent to the normal pacing of a normal movie. But as blog writer and movie critic Brett McCracken reflects, the long take leads us to confront life in a real sense, in real time:

I go to movies to recapture time—that achingly pervasive burden that keeps us so unceasingly busy in our normal lives. In the movies, time is “free.” We need not worry about our own time; all that is required of us is that we cede our imagination to the screen, where time is footloose and fancy free, dancing to and fro in flashback, flashforward, slow-mo, still, etc.

voyage-du-ballon-rougeA vivid example is Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon which I reviewed in my last post.  Who would want to sit in a theatre to watch a balloon slowly drifting above the urbanscape, other than those who enjoy the grace of unhurried moments, those who consciously seek for poetics in the mundane, and those who take time to ponder the meaning conveyed by the filmmaker.

Slow blogging and the long take, two powerful ways to glean the indelible essence of life.