Monday, November 30, 2009

Biblioblog Top 50 vs. N. T. Wrong

At the recent Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in New Orleans, one of the real highlights was the paper given by James Crossley about the pseudonymous blogger known as N. T. Wrong. I asked a question at the end about the afterlife of N. T. Wrong. Because, of course, Wrong never really went away. He morphed into a more amorphous anonymous character (if such a thing is possible) at the head of the Biblioblog Top 50. James suggested that N. T. Wrong's politics were very much to the left of your average biblioblogger, and he repeated Wrong's notorious and hilarious descriptions added to his series of labels for the bloggers, from "very conservative" to "very liberal". At the same time that James was giving his paper, there was some discussion in the blogs about Biblioblog Top 50's suggestion about resuming these labels (Loren Rosson, Jason Staples, Stephen Carlson), perhaps itself generated by the discussion in James's SBL paper, which he had shared with the character he calls "Tom".

The suggestion, now dropped, illustrates for me the value of the pseudonymous blog over the anonymous one. I liked the N. T. Wrong character. He was a cheeky chappy, using his character to poke fun, to be subversive, to say things others might not say. Somehow, the character he created allowed him to make judgements (and misjudgements) about the politics of the blogs that were entertaining. I quite liked the fact that he wasn't sure where to place the NT Blog, for example, switching me twice across the boundaries. But the Biblioblog Top 50 does not have that clearly defined, cheeky character behind it, and the resumption of this categorization would not have worked with an anonymous author.

One of the curiosities about the afterlife of N. T. Wrong has been his failure to maintain the kind of subversive, counter-cultural, liberal persona. As I pointed out after James's paper in New Orleans, the Biblioblog Top 50 has been accused of being on the wrong side of the gender question, and of aligning itself with and also perpetuating the dominant male biblioblogging community. I think those charges are misguided, but the fact that they got such a hearing may be a testimony to the difficulty of blogging anonymously over against blogging in the name of an explicitly cheeky, subversive and fun character. And although it has always been clear to me that the Biblioblog Top 50 is supposed to be a laugh, the lack of a clearly identifiable author, even an artificially constructed one, ultimately makes it that bit less fun than when its author was Wrong.

3 comments:

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I miss the old N.T.Wrong. He would really witty and interesting. Too bad, he feels the needs to keep removing what made him a giant from the internet.

Jaira said...

NT Wrong is Richard Carrier. Yet, I talked.

Jaira said...

oh, i'm post wrong, i confused. I wanted to say thar N.T. Wrong is Maurice Casey. I can't explain my source...