Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My 600th blog post

Somewhere in the past few postings (depending on how one counts some of my Soprano postings, which I subsequently consolidated into fewer, longer entries), I passed my 600th blog posting, just a bit short of my three month anniversary (I started blogging on the ides of March).

To a greater degree than I expected, I've been relying on large numbers of clippings from other sources, rather than penning (keyboarding) lengthy posts of my own. Partly that reflects some deadness of spirit in me over the course of my father's illness and death, from which I am only just beginning to take more active control of things, both emotionally and, perhaps, physically. There have been other tragedies in the lives of people close to me. Mechanical cut and pastes have come easier than confronting and trying to express more tempestuous feelings, and have helped to pass the time when I've wanted distractions from some of those feelings. Which has been pretty often.

Blogging has brought me to read differently, with a constant eye out for interesting/ arresting/ surprising/ humorous/ especially strikingly written nuggets in the flood of information washing over us. There has been much more on the Middle East/Israel than I would have expected, and rather less of bioethics. My initial focus on L'Affaire Kaplan has calmed considerably, although many of the deeper problems revealed by that episode have not been resolved, and I've become significantly alienated from the law school community that I've considered my primary intellectual home at the University. My efforts to provoke a sustained discussion of professional education and the nature of the educational community have largely fallen flat. That does not come as much of a surprise, but it is a disappointment.

This has been a more one-way vehicle of expression than I anticipated, more a public diary than an interactive conversation or discussion board. I'm still coming to terms with how I feel about that, and whether I am prepared to change my preferred form of expression, or the highly eclectic (and unfocused) content of my postings, or my expressed standards for publishing reader comments, in order to attract a more consistent readership or a larger number of publishable responses. For now, I don't think so. While I have never kept a private diary for more than a few entries, whatever I am doing here seems to suit me, at least during this period of largely home-bound medical leave. If, as I hope, I am able to return to classroom teaching this fall, that may change.

Enough navel gazing for the moment. Thanks to readers for their interest, and occasional kind (or instructive) words, whether or not published. The Sopranos may have finished (although one can now start over at the beginning with DVDs, as Jews do every year with the Biblical text), but I'll try to keep on keeping on, for some time to come. Onward. Or whatever. (Cut to black.)


gabe said...

Hi Prof. Weisbard

I'm a 2L who will be in your bioethics course this fall. Your blog quickly went from "I guess I'll check out my future professor's blog" status to being a mainstay on my RSS reader (a rare honor in my little Internet world). I frequently pass on your posts to friends via our private message board.

Your posts about your father were especially moving and thought-provoking - I've simply never had the opportunity to hear the immediate account of a bioethics expert in the process of losing a very close relative. Even though my experience here was relatively very remote, I certainly began to think about some of my beliefs about what we should condone as end-of-life options.

So thank you. Your dialogue may have become more of a monologue than you had planned, but do know that you are provoking thought and discussion, and emotion, in the readers I know of at least.

Alan Jay Weisbard said...

Thank you, Gabe, for your kind words. I look forward to meeting and learning with you in the fall.

There was a time that professors, and especially law professors, played "hide the ball" with their students in terms of their personal beliefs and convictions. I did so, or tried to, early in my teaching career. That has changed.

While I still find myself playing "devil's advocate" when necessary to stimulate or sustain a class discussion (especially as students have become reluctant to expose their own beliefs, most often--but not only-- when they fear their views will not perceived as within the "safe" politically accepted norms of their environment), I have generally concluded that it is better for students to know where I stand on relevant controversial issues, so they can make an informed assessment of the substance of my teaching in light of that information.

That approach creates occasional difficulties (as would any alternative approach, in my view), but in my estimation, it hits the best balance. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, in light of my pedagogic objectives and commitments.

In the world of online exposure, and personal blogging in particular, I'm not sure there is an alternative, except perhaps complete radio silence. Not my way, at least at this stage.

Thanks again.