Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dr. Johnson on the Blogging Phenomenon

He didn't think much of it.

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Among those whose reputation is exhausted in a short time by its own luxuriance, are the writers who take advantage of present incidents or characters which strongly interest the passions, and engage universal attention. It is not difficult to obtain readers, when we discuss a question which every one is desirous to understand, which is debated in every assembly, and has divided the nation into parties; or when we diplay the faults or vitues of him whose public conduct has made almost every man his enemy or his friend. To the quick circulation of such productions all the motives of interest and vanity concur; the disputant enlarges his knowledge, the zealot animates his passion, and every man is desirous to inform himself concerning affairs so vehemently agitated and variously represented.

Whoever has, at any time, taken occasion to mention him with praise or blame, whoever happens to love or hate any of his adherents, as he wishes to confirm his opinion, and to strengthen his party, will diligently peruse every paper from which he can hope for sentiments like his own...He that shall peruse political pamphlets of any past reign, will wonder why they were so eagerly read, or so loudly praised...

Many of the performances which had power to inflame factions, and fill a kingdom with confusion, have now very little effect upon a frigid critick...

In proportion, as those who write on temporary subjects, are exalted above their merit at first, they are afterwards depressed below it; nor can the brightest elegance of diction or most artful subtilty of reasoning, hope for much esteem from those whose regard is no longer quickened by curiosity or pride.

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