I’ve just learned tonight that Billmon, perhaps the most brilliant progressive political blogger anywhere, has ended his blog, Whiskey Bar. I have the strangest sensation, like a close friend or relative died. While many of his readers don’t begrudge him the personal decision to stop writing–after all it’s damn hard to tilt at windmills day in and day out for years running and never feel that your words amount to a hill of beans in this world; but others like me haven’t yet gone through all the stages of mourning. We’re still angry and not fully accepting of his decision.
To understand why, you have to have read Billmon (you still can here). His analysis was not only superb, he wrote with a burning, scathing wit about the issues of the day. A few times reading his blog I practically fell off my chair with laughter. In this blog, I don’t often write about the world of fellow bloggers. But Billmon was the exception. His beautiful mind drew you into its orbit through sympathetic vibration. As I feel with the great writers I studied in college like Faulkner or Joyce, they make you want to sing their praises to the rooftops because they bring such joy into your mind and your life. That’s how I felt about Billmon when I wrote this.
One of the reasons Billmon gave for giving up on the blog was that despite all of the great writing by bloggers like himself and others, it seemed to have little impact on the prosecution of the Iraq war. I know personally how lonely it can be to write about a subject like Iraq or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and sometimes wonder whether anyone cares. You sit for hours and rage against the night and in the end do you influence anything or anyone?
But as I wrote in a comment at The Left Coaster:
If you set for yourself a task of changing the world you set yourself up for disappointment. I say write for yourself, your friends, your readers. Write to comfort yourself & those you love (& who love you). Write of course to afflict the comfortable. But mainly if you write with some sense of awareness of the limits of yr influence, you won’t disappoint yourself too much & perhaps you will eventually really change the world in some small way. But only if you carry on.
Personally, I think Billmon has given up on himself and his metier too soon. But to him I’m sure my feeling will be presumptuous. You blog for your own reasons. And if you’ve lost the fire necessary to keep blogging, then you shouldn’t flog a dead horse. There are many other important things one can do with one’s life besides blogging.
As I was reading through the comment thread at Left Coaster about Billmon’s departure, my mind harkened back to a song that strangely expressed some of my heartache and nostalgia for the great days of Billmon:
Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson
Joltin’ Joe has left & gone away
Hey hey hey