Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who is behind the Dilettante Hobby Horse Blog?

In recent days there has been some speculation about the identity of the author of the new Dilettante Hobby Horse blog. As soon as it became clear that it was not by the artist formerly known as N. T. Wrong, attention turned to Jim West. Could he be the author of this new blog? Those who are inclined to think so cite several pieces of circumstantial evidence that appear to point to Jim. Some of them are pretty obvious, the repeated use of the term "dilettante", one of Jim's favourites, the repeated references to Jim ("if you are Jim West . . ."; Extra Hudson) as well as contributions from Jim (Another one for you) and regular comments (comments, comments, comments).

But of course all that that tells us is that Jim is an enthusiastic supporter of the new blog. It does not make him its author. Attention has naturally turned, therefore, to the blog's style. Does it sound like Jim? Certainly it features a striking number of his favourite language, "idiocy", "crackpot", "lunacy", "pearls", alongside the use of sarcasm and neologisms constructed around names. "Hudsonianism" and "hobby horsistians" in the new blog are analogous to famous Westisms such as "Wrightianity", "Wrightianist", "bibliobloggists", "Bentley-ism" and "Bentley-ism-anity".

It is difficult to be convinced by such speculation. The Dilettante Hobby Horse Blog cannot be Jim's work because his position on anonymous blogs is clear and often repeated, e.g. On blogging anonymously, where he comments that "Blogging anonymously is akin to citing Wikipedia, so far as I’m concerned". Or here:
An alias is a means by which a person hides him or herself, in a delightfully cowardly way, behind the mantle of anonymity. Anonymity, such persons believe, allows them to make the most outrageous and unsubstantiated claims without fear of having to give an account of themselves.

Like unprovenanced artifacts, however, unattributable comments have neither value nor worth and cannot be taken seriously by anyone. They are the academic equivalent of ‘www.juicycampus.com’ - a site devoted to slander and stupidity.
(Learning about the intelligence of readers via comments)
Moreover, Jim himself has denied being the author of the new blog (Finally, there's a place for all the dilettantes to assemble). So we have an interesting new biblioblogging mystery. Why does the author of the Dilettante Hobby Horse Blog model his language and style on Jim's? Jim: I think you have a fan!


Stephen C. Carlson said...

The mystery deepens...

Jim said...

i promise, mark, stephen, it isn't my doing.

Loren Rosson III said...

There is also the curious reference to me by my initials. To my knowledge only Jim has ever referred to me as "LR" (on one of his older blogs that he deleted), but for all the reasons Mark gives, this must simply point to a Deutero-Westian author rather than the authentic West himself.