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Can We Learn about Love from a Blog?

The other day, I was talking about this blog with a dear online friend who, at some point, told me he had learned quite a bit that was of value to him from my posts about love.   At first, I simply took that as an extraordinary compliment because my friend impresses me as himself knowing quite a bit about love.  I filed it away then.

This morning, however, our conversation came back to me with a twist.  I suppose that part of our brain that mulls things over without our knowing about it had in my case been busy mulling over his words, because I woke up this morning seeing them in a new light.  So, now I’m wondering how much we can actually learn about love from a blog.

In fact, I’m not sure we learn much about love we are not already prepared to learn.   The more I think about it, the more it seems to me the reader brings almost as much to what is learned as the author.

I think there might be a very simple way of illustrating the point.  Suppose I were to write, “I am wearing a bright red sweater this morning.”  What, if anything, have you learned about the real world from me? I think to answer that question  — really answer it — you would need to test your understanding.

The simplest way of performing that test — at least in theory — would be for you to show up at my door this morning and then observe what I’m wearing when I respond to your enthusiastic knocking.   If you see what you expect to see based on my statement, then we can say you learned something about reality from my statement.  But if you do not see what you expect to see, then we can say you didn’t learn something about reality from my statement.

Now, having said all that, we can look a bit closer at what’s going on there.  It seems to me when I say, “I am wearing a bright red sweater this morning”,  I am at best imparting only a little more information to you than you yourself have brought to the discussion.  At best, it’s as if I am telling you perhaps eight things with that sentence —  seven of which you already know.

You already know what “I” means to me; you already know what “am” means to me; you already know what “wearing” means to me; and so on.  In other words, you are well prepared to learn the one or two things about reality you didn’t already know before you read my sentence.

Having said all that, I think I’ve illustrated a relatively simple way of looking at the question of how much we can learn about love from a blog.  If you have learned anything about what I’m wearing this morning from my blog, it’s because you already know most of what I’ve told you.  And, in the same way, if you have ever learned anything about love from my blog, it’s because you already knew most of what I told you.  That seems to me the simplest way to look at it.

What I’ve said so far has merely discussed a theoretical reason we actually might not learn as much about love from a blog as we first suppose.  When it comes to this particular blog, however, there happens to be a more practical reason.  That is, I’m no longer in the teaching business.

I’ve only once been in the teaching business when it comes to blogging.  I began blogging in 2004 and my early posts were all of them informative.  I quit after two dozen of them, both because I hadn’t gotten the hang of writing that kind of post, and because I wasn’t much enjoying myself.

In 2006, my therapist, Arun, began lobbying me to start blogging again.  He hypothesized I needed the challenge to hone my writing and thinking skills.  So, in early 2007, I deleted all but two poems from my 2004 posts and began blogging as therapy.

I figured I wouldn’t get an audience, but I nevertheless wrote to accomplish two goals:  Write to provoke thought and to provoke discussion.  I like to think and I like to discuss what I think, so the goals kind of suggested themselves to me.

So far as I can see, those two goals favor somewhat different styles of writing than a style you might adopt if your goal were to teach something.  I might be wrong about this, but I don’t think the style of writing I’ve worked out is optimal for teaching.  Instead, I think my style is more suggestive.  It is more suited to provoking thought and discussion than to imparting information.

For instance:  a few days ago, I wrote on “the difference between loving someone and loving an idea of them“.  The post got an overall positive response and was picked up by some other bloggers, who expanded on it.  I got some wonderful comments and emails from folks stating — in effect — the post resonated with them.   Yet, did anyone learn much about love from the post they didn’t already know?

I won’t presume on my readers to definitively answer that question, but my hunch is the post mostly help clarify for some readers what they had already seen on their own.   And I suspect for some other readers — such as this fellow — the post was a waste of their time because it failed to impart enough information for them to see what they were not well prepared to see.  By no means is it the reader’s fault that I don’t always provide enough information for him or her to clearly see what I’m talking about.

To be sure, I could write a volume or two on just the differences between loving someone and loving an idea of them.  But my style is not so much intended to inform the reader as it is intended to point to something — as concisely as I can — and then ask, “What do you think of that?”   As I see it, I draw stick figures, but you, the reader, flesh them out based on your own experience of what a real man or woman should look like.

So, for all the above reasons, I think it can be said my blog doesn’t teach much about love my readers don’t already know.  At this point, however, I don’t know whether I’m making any sense because I began going to sleep half way through writing this article.  Apparently, six hours of rest wasn’t enough last night.  That alarms me because I have a lot of work to accomplish today.  So I think I’ll go for a walk in the brisk winter sun.  Feel free to comment!

14 thoughts on “Can We Learn about Love from a Blog?”

  1. I don’t know that there is a way to learn about love – short of loving. Having said that, the blogsphere probides a simple place to go where you can read about any subject, so you could learn what other’s thought for sure.

    Cheers,
    Trevas

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  2. Paul: “when I say, “I am wearing a bright red sweater this morning”, I am at best imparting only a little more information to you than you yourself have brought to the discussion. At best, it’s as if I am telling you perhaps eight things with that sentence – seven of which you already know.

    You already know what “I” means to me; you already know what “am” means to me; you already know what “wearing” means to me; and so on. In other words, you are well prepared to learn the one or two things about reality you didn’t already know before you read my sentence.”

    1 – while you may or may not like the color red, you certainly don’t dislike it enough to refuse to wear it.

    2 – it must be a bit chilly wherever you are; otherwise, you wouldn’t be wearing a sweater.

    – M. \”/

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  3. Actually, blogging, if it’s good, is much like dialogue. Your blog, Paul, is good and provokes much dialogue. I believe that the only strong learning situation is, in fact, dialogue. Dialogue requires LISTENING and speaking. That’s what happens here, a lot. Thank you for this forum. I am reminded of a college professor who was working on his PhD and requested his Dean allow him to records some of his lectures and present them when he was absent. The professor looked in on one of his classes to see how the students were receiving the recorded lectures. He saw 12 tape recorders in the seats of his students, no students present. Lecturing is NOT a good source of learning.

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  4. Ditto Leguru…

    Another part of learning for me is having one of those “Ah HA!!” moments. When I was teaching it was fun, and prolly the best part of teaching, to watch students have their Ah HA moment.

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  5. Paul?..I hope you are getting rest now..My prayer “now” is that you sleep deep and peacefully….

    On the rest of your post..”bright”..red sweater..the “bright” would be something I would muse and wonder about…I know what red is and shades of that…but what if it was “bright” and all the shades of red?

    So you open the mind to investigate what “bright” is…..Thats all a teacher can do..

    And “departing” more personal information or detail?…

    I dont know who said that..But IMHO you bare your heart..when you write..your soul.(not to be corny)..

    Moving people to relate to one another..or awake them to realize something about themselves maybe they already knew..but dont ‘see” as an obvious .. Or even reminding them of what they know… is a gift..

    So dont you fret about “teaching love”..

    Your doing wonderfully..At least for this little gal here in Texas..

    Love

    Dallas

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  6. You write as if giving someone the words to express something they were ready to learn, wasn’t really “learning” – when actually, I think that’s absolutely what learning is!

    And sometimes it’s like an optical illusion. Someone says – that curved bit that’s the young woman’s hair is the old woman’s nose – and suddenly what’s before your eyes looks different.

    I can think of a lot of posts that have had that “why didn’t I see that before” effect on me – including the first of yours I ever read (on different sorts of love from the cinematic kind) which showed me something about my relationship with my ex that I’d been looking at without seeing.

    I’ve been hooked ever since…

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  7. ‘I nevertheless wrote to accomplish two goals: Write to provoke thought and to provoke discussion. ‘
    -and you are succeeding brilliantly on both counts.
    For me coming to your blog is like seeking the company of a non judgemental , sensible friend. For me here is a place where I am sure to find some food for thought, some fresh perspective. And there are times when an idea is not something that hasn’t occurred to me but you state them such elegance and clarity which makes it such a joy to read.
    Whatever the reasons for your blogging, I am glad you do and it is a pleasure to be here.

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  8. @ Usha: I have noticed how the internet is in some ways both a curse and a blessing. It’s a blessing because you get to meet so many kind, wonderful, and extraordinary people. I didn’t realize there were so many great people in the world before I got on the net. At the same time, the internet is a bit of a curse because of the moments you ache to be with someone who lives so far away. You might smile if you knew the number of times I’ve fantasized about spending an hour or two chatting with you Usha. Me, I’ve lost count. I see in you the same non-judgmental, sensible friend you see in me.

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  9. @ Lirone: I wish I’d thought of your points before I wrote the post. You are absolutely right — and now I have to re-think everything. Thank you so much for those insights!

    I now think what I said in the post might be true enough in a certain light, but the scope of whatever truth there might be in my post is limited and must be considered in light of what you and others have said in the comments.

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  10. @ Leguru: I agree about the value of dialog. When I was in school, I used to enjoy well-structured lectures, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to form the opinion that dialogs reach more people — at least in a meaningful way. Thank you for pointing that out. I’m going to need to incorporate your observations into anything I think about this subject in the future.

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  11. @ Trevas: I am beginning to suspect I have short changed how much one can learn about love from a blog — but I still agree that loving someone is the best teacher. Good point!

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