this is not a New Year’s resolution

The 22 days that have passed since New Year’s day should make that clear, but just in case…

I am going to see if blogging is something I can still sustain.  I still have time for writing; I do a lot of it.  But I don’t have the same kind of time for reading that I used to and without reading, there isn’t as much to write about. I don’t tend to write in a vacuum, I write as a conversation, and without listening there’s not much this introvert has to say.

And since I tend to read in bursts when I have time, and that time is sometimes after the time when everyone else has read the thing, I worry more as much about missing the conversational moment as I do have anything to say.

So I’m pretty sure this hasn’t been widely discussed in libraries – but it made me think – or I should say it sounded familiar.

Tom and Lorenzo (Tom + Lorenzo, Fabulous and Opinionated) talking about Carey Mulligan wearing Roland Mouret at the 32nd Annual London Film Critics’ Circle Awards.

(By the way, the post is not really about Carey Mulligan or about Roland Mouret so much as the YSL pumps she’s wearing – go ahead, look.  They’re blue.)

They start the post, a variation on a specific genre of post often featured on this blog — does this specific red carpet look work or doesn’t it? with a disclaimer.

We’re almost afraid to write this one.

Not because we fear the wrath of Carey Mulligan’s publicist (or Roland Mouret’s, for that matter), nor because we fear that legions of her fans will tear us limb from limb in an orgy of righteous rage because we dared to say something less than flattering about her (although it does give us some pause). No, we’re afraid to write this one because we’re about to complain about something that we’ve been asking for in every red carpet ensemble for almost five years now.

(Color, is what they’ve been asking for. Just some color, which Ms. Mulligan is without a doubt sporting in that photo.)

See, here’s the thing – they’re thought twice about writing the post because while they’re writing subjectively about some of the most subjective content there is – they know they have readers who are looking for hard and fast rules.  They know that those readers think they have a rule figured out and then they’re going to go and contradict themselves and those readers will be confused and think “you don’t even know what you want.”

But there’s a general principle they’re reasoning from here – a way of thinking, as it were.

there’s nothing inherently wrong with, say,  black peeptoe pumps, but when they become ubiquitous and they’re mindlessly paired with every dress on the red carpet, whether they go with it or not, that’s when we get all huffy and dogmatic about it. But the flipside of that is, we then get a rep for hating black peeptoe pumps (or silly putty pumps, or ankle straps), and when we wind up letting a pair go by without comment, or worse, complimenting the choice, kittens get confused. “But…I thought you hated black peeptoe pumps,” they say, their adorable kitten eyes wide and on the brink of shedding tears of disappointment and confusion. “There, there,” we say (in our imaginations), “Sometimes these things work and sometimes they don’t. Fashion shouldn’t be rigid. Now dry your eyes, little fashion kitten.”

Darned if this doesn’t sound like me when I read a paper and make comments and then the student takes it away and works on it for two months and in that two months the argument of the paper evolves and changes so that the thing that I said the paper needed in January isn’t even part of the argument any more in March and when I write on the paper that it needs to go they say “but… you SAID…”

I know, I know.  It’s frustrating not to have rules. And it’s frightening.  But I think what Tom and Lorenzo are asking their readers to have is confidence – confidence in their own ability to say what they like and to learn a way of thinking, or a body of reasons they can use to articulate why it is they like what they like.  Which is not the same thing as memorizing a set of rules.

And this is where this sounds familiar – where the information literacy comes in – where the student development theory comes in – the end goal on these things is also, in part, confidence.  But confidence that goes beyond “I like X,” confidence that you can know what you like and contextualize it, understand as something that exists in the world and that is understood by others in a particular way.  Which means learning how to talk about what you like with reasons and evidence – evidence beyond simplistic appeals to expertise  (Tom and Lorenzo like color) that let you participate without really putting yourself into the conversation.

I miss this blog in part because it was a place where I could consistently put myself into the conversation.  I’m not sure that can be re-created at this point. But I’m going to try.

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