Blogging On The Uncategorizable

uncategorized350Look at this picture. I spent some time pondering it. It defies simple categorization, in my humble opinion. A girl wrapping herself in the flag? A green-eyed patriotic American muslim?  A young woman afraid of what too much patriotism can effect? Is this a statement on encroaching Shariah law?What is this photo saying?

In truth, I selected it because I found it uncategorizable. That is, it doesn’t fit into any clearly defined category.

Now, I’m not even certain that uncategorizable is a word. Actually, I’m pretty sure it isn’t, so please don’t write me about it 😉

As human beings, especially as men of the West, we have a propensity to draw contrasts and comparisons in order to categorize things by distinction. This is normal, it’s good science, and adds to the breadth and depth of human knowledge.

Interestingly, we often come across things that don’t neatly fit into pre-made categories. These are important moments, I believe, because at such moments we have a choice. We can either adjust an existing category, and slide our new experience into it, OR we can stop categorizing for a moment, and peacefully contemplate what we are experiencing.

Sometimes we have just such an experience, and aren’t sure how to proceed. After all, if we don’t know what it means, how could we possibly attempt to blog on it? I think experiences like this are excellent for bloggers. How can that be?

First of all, it presents an experience, not a lesson. A raw experience is sometimes more instructive to a reader than any moralizing will do.

Secondly, it’s real. When you write about something that is just plain real, you end up writing literature.

Finally, it gives your reader something real to share. You don’t necessarily need to tie it up neatly at the end, because life doesn’t always tie up neatly at the end – at least, not in the ways we expect.

It is just such uncategorizable vignettes that offer readers a window into a new world, and chance to share your experience without you getting in the way. I also believe that because thoughts, ideas, experiences and bits of information which are hard to categorize, hard to place into distinct ideological slots, those open ended anecdotes that give the reader pause, and allow them to carry the idea throughout the day – like a tune you know, but didn’t hear the last few notes. I don’t know about you, but I can have those banging around in my head for hours.

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I’m sure, like me, you recall Freshman English class in high school reading Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game.” This is a classic example of such an ending. We talked about it for days, even weeks. One way or another, we had to finish it, and it was in working about the ending that we worked through it, discovered its deeper meanings and learned its lesson.

You see, we try to make sense of things which don’t add up. We inadvertently try to finish thoughts and ideas that haven’t been finished.

When you have one of these experiences, don’t worry too much about how you are going to ‘blog’ about it. Just write it down. Let the reader complete the thought. Let the reader finish the sentence. Let the reader write the ending themselves.

Don’t be too quick to assign a mental category to your writing.

Just tell the truth, and be sure to blog about it.

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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