Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Anderson writes that one of many reasons that conceptions of nationalism developed in creole communities before they developed in their European counterparts was a combination of restricted lateral and vertical movement within the creole imperial administrative unit and the arrival of print-capitalism (60-61). Still, the spatial restriction, he writes, had no consequences until the newspapers gave people a sense of shared possession of the local economy and politics and an idea of a “steady, solid simultaneity through time” (63). Newspapers’ temporality, then, is worth considering. Anderson writes that newspapers are obsolete on the morrow of their printing, which lends itself to simultaneous consumption that is paradoxically done in “silent privacy” (35). This, he writes, is one of the most perfect examples of a “secular, historically clocked, imagined community” (35).
In class, Professor Chun raised the question of the temporality of the blog, which she said followed the chronology of the newspaper but carried an archive of older posts like a novel. A couple of posts have already brought up the question of whether bloggers/internet community users can also feel rooted in a virtual place/space or a part of a new type of “nation.” However, it seems to me that the blog has the potential to alter the temporality of Anderson’s original American nationalism rather than the spatiality. While Anderson does declare that a “fertile trait” of the early American newspapers was their “provinciality,” the provinciality is reliant less upon geographic boundaries than it is on the ability of the newspapers to frame events based on a specific way of thinking that happened to be common to the locals who read the paper. Anderson writes that, for example, while a Mexican might read about events in Buenos Aires, “it would be through Mexican newspapers … and the events would appear as ‘similar to’ rather than ‘part of’ events in Mexico” (63). He writes that what originally brought newspaper readers to come to think of this imagined “we” was the “structure of the colonial administration and market-system,” not any particular tangible space.
If the newspaper allowed the perfect clocked imagined community, the blog, with its dependence on a peculiarly temporal archive that leads to what Professor Chun called the “non-simultaneousness of the new,” completely breaks down exactly what it was that made the reading newspaper the archetype of that imagined community — the temporality of the ceremony. If the potential for reading blogs/ en masse is tenuous, then what becomes of Anderson’s nationalism?

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