I wanted to sketch out some of what we’ll be doing here on the blog, through the medium of closely reading the blog’s title.
“Backyard Politics:” on the surface, two pretty simple, common words. But the juxtaposition of the two is what makes them so interesting. Let’s start with the latter.
“Politics” calls to mind the high-minded (and often not so high-minded) discourse of what may guide governmental and organizational decisions. We’ve seen political debates, political polls, political reporting – in fact, the not-quite-so-early twenty-first century person (and certainly American) is inundated with politics. The common denominator of politics, though, is that it seems disconnected, tower-borne, out of touch with the vicissitudes of daily life.
“Backyard,” on the other hand, could not be more personal or closer to our lives. For many, this evokes fond memories of childhood, of trees, swings, monkey bars, of entire afternoons spent in the sun and shade. Almost nothing could be further from the sterile, fluorescent, suit-wearing talking heads of politics.
Try a little experiment: go on your search engine of choice (it will be Google; choice is an illusion) and type in “backyard” as an image search. Now compare those results to what you will get when you write “politics.” One will give you pastoral scenes of relaxation and happiness; the other will inundate you with the need to choose, to think, to vote, to exercise duty.
One word isolates you, relaxes you, puts you at ease; the other riles you up, puts you in the context of others. One calls attention to your being, the other calls your attention to the being of things.
And that’s why we’ve paired the two: one of the purposes of this blog is to take the discourses of mass media and the academy and bring them not just down to the level of humanity, but to situate this conversation in the backyard. Imagine the two of us reclining in the shade of tall tree, the lemonade glasses in our hands furiously sweating condensation in the midday sun, talking about everything and everything under that helio-celestial body. Oh, and we’re obviously both wearing sunglasses – think very swanky shades.