melancholy baby


Come to me my melancholy baby
Cuddle up and don't be blue...
All your fears are foolish fancy, maybe
You know dear that I'm in love with you!

Every cloud must have a silver lining
Wait until the sun shines through
Smile my honey dear, while I kiss away each tear
Or else I shall be melancholy too!

(1912, Music by Ernie Burnett, Lyrics by George A. Norton)
In my research (what else can I call it) I have discovered some interesting papers. Among the most recent (and by recent I mean the articles I have read over the weekend)... Blogging and the politics of melancholy by Michael Keren (published in the Canadian Journal of Communication, 2004. Vol. 29, Iss. 1: p. 5-23). Blogging and the politics of melancholy was a definite contrast to the other papers that I have read recently that discuss blogging in relation to Habermas' theory of the public sphere. Keren suggested a much more dismal outlook on the world of blogging: resulting melancholia from the desire of bloggers to achieve critical insight of the structure of society. As Keren states:

This critical insight is not constructive and active but destructive and passive. Pensky argues after Robert Merton that melancholy constitutes a specific form of rebellion: the despair and hopelessness of the melancholic arise from the concrete or imagined condition of utter helplessness in the face of a social order experienced as oppressive or stifling. From this perspective,

melancholia is a retreat from and a total rejection of society, due not only to the repressive function of social norms but also to the total effect of society, which the melancholic experiences as suffocating. The melancholic's rebellion is therefore a passive one. Under the conviction, whether justified or not, that all avenues toward effective action have been closed off, the melancholic rebel recedes into a resigned interiority, brooding over the very conditions of the impossibility of action themselves. (Pensky, 1993, p. 34)

Keren's paper offered another perspective on the question if blogs are an effective tool for the democritization of discourse. Do blogs just provide opportunity for expression that descends into melancholy? I found this paragraph from Keren's conclusion (where he details the position of one writer who is less excited about the effectiveness of blogs as a democritizing tool) particularly enlightening and amusing:

Benjamin Barber, on the other hand, is less optimistic. He remains skeptical as to whether virtual communities formed on-line can actually be seen as fulfilling the requirement of a democracy incorporating strong participatory and deliberative elements. As he puts it, "Lolling in your underwear in front of an electronic screen while accessing with your dancing fingers the pixels generated by anonymous strangers across the world is not my idea of forging a community of concern or establishing common ground, let alone cementing a trusting friendship" (Barber, 2003, p. 39).

I must be an oddity then... not lolling around in my underwear as I seek out information online. Perhaps that will change as I find myself becoming progressively more and more melancholy. I hope that will not be the case. I cannot deny that my lurkings online have failed to provide me with a constant sense of community, but these past few months of dedicated online learning and the resulting "research" of online materials has allowed me to discover many strangers with whom I can relate to, at least in the sense of their own areas of educational research. I wouldn't go so far as to consider them friends... strangers on common ground would be a better description.