July 18, 2013

"Each post you make seems to invite conversation, yet allowing none, creates a constipation of thought."

Emails a reader who — when the comments were on — commented under the pseudonym Salamandyr. I'm blogging this because I think poop is funny. And because I've already used the tag "excrement" once this morning, quoting Greil Marcus's famous question — reviewing Bob Dylan's "Self Portrait" — "What is this shit?"

So Salamandyr's saying "Turning off comments was a dreadful mistake that I hope you'll reconsider."
[Y]our writing style invites comments.  Each post you make seems to invite conversation, yet allowing none, creates a constipation of thought.  
Yeah, that was the problem. Too much pooping in the comments! Why would your complaining about constipation convince me to reopen? This is Althouse, not Shithouse. But some people didn't seem to notice, didn't care, or had their own delusions of redesigning the place.
Previously, even if I choose not to type out my comments, the ability to, invites me to think about what you wrote, to consider it in more detail, to create a dialogue with your post.  This oftentimes made your post all the more memorable.  
And the difference now is what? That when you think the thoughts the post prompts, the fact that you could put it in writing, next to my writing, and now you can't, impedes a mental process that never emerged in writing anyway? To stick with your metaphor, if it's constipation, you've got constipation in both situations, and what's bothering you is that there's no toilet available.
Then what the commenters wrote in response to your post, made it even more memorable.  Every comment reinforced what your writing [sic], made it that much more prominent.  
That's where you are wrong — wrong in a way that crucial is to me, as I explained right here. If you take the trouble to read that, tell me — or tell your constipated brain — whether you saw or took the trouble to look for the 15 topics and whether you think there's the slightest chance that if the comments had been open, the commenters would have explored them and, if some did, whether the writing about the 15 topics would outweigh the writing about how Bob Dylan's voice is bad and I write about Bob Dylan too much. See why I'm not feeling "reinforced"?
I might spend an hour reading your post, reading the comments, thinking about how they relate to your post, whether they successfully rebut your point, support it, or were irrelevant....
Now, that sounds constipated. It's dangerous to sit on the pot that long. Don't you know that's what killed Elvis?
If you choose not to re-open comments, I'm sure your writing will change, become more declarative, less inviting....
You're sure? Why are you sure? Do you need to deposit your answer to those questions to benefit from thinking about them?
Whatever you choose, I'll probably still read you.  You are smart, educated, and have interesting opinions.  But without comments, I find myself visiting your site less often during the day, and spending less time there when I do, and spending less time considering your posts.  
Good! Keep it moving. It's much healthier.