Hitting the “publish” button here completes the illusion of instant connection to everybody, and I can see from the world map on my wordpress stats page that someone in Taiwan read my latest post, two people in India clicked by, or one person there, twice. I can see when my friend in Poland has had a chance to visit and I nod, anticipating the intelligent comment my note will sometimes inspire. When I saw I’d had a visitor from Yemen a few weeks ago I involuntarily pictured the face of that little Yemeni girl, confronted by the camera, after the rest of her family was blown apart by an American missile launched from a menacing American robot plane. Hearts and minds, Brother O, way to go, sir. But if we look at this phenomenon of maintaining a blahg for what it actually is, what causes the fingers to tap and one of them to press “publish” at the end, it’s hard to say what it actually is.
Like everything in the world we have multiple explanations, theories, half-assed (or full-assed) opinions, proposed answers. Each of these illuminates the matter from a slightly different angle, each contains some bit of truth, each convinces us a bit more or a little less according to our tastes. In the case of why people post things to the internet, Occam’s Razor doesn’t quite cut it.
Zora Neale Hurston’s oldest human longing: making oneself known to another, strikes me as a huge reason people post things they create on the internet. The impulse to connect with others in our increasingly connected, increasingly isolated culture is no doubt part of the heart of any complete explanation. Sharing information, trying to unite with others, giving a take on news that seems vital to understanding but does not seem to get reported, except by the brilliant author of a book that sells well, wins an award, ignites a small discussion that is quickly spun into oblivion as the news media churns the cycle. Celebrity culture and 24/7 media blaring and flashing in infinite forms makes almost everyone who partakes of it just a little bit thirsty for Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fabulousness. In our narcissistic age, why not tell everybody how that makes us feel? And we have the technology now, and talent or no talent is no longer such an important distinction, we say fuck the corporate gatekeepers. Everyone is a star, no? Or if not a star, everyone is someone with something to say. Or with nothing to say, but a cool place to say it and WTF, LOL, ROTFLMAO. My new boobs are nice, admit it.
I try to write well, and I write about things that get to me one way or another. That puts me in the same boat with millions of other bloggers. Democracy at work, yo. “What is it you want from people?” my sister once asked me pointedly during a calm period in an argument that would soon turn ugly. I told her I want a conversation, a back and forth where people speak openly about things they care about. Ideally it’s like a catch, throwing the thing gently back and forth. They listen carefully to each other, interrupt only for clarification and respond intelligently to what the other person is trying to communicate.
My sister and I grew up in a war zone and my answer wearied her considerably at the time. She and I have good talks these days, but back then my answer really annoyed her. It seemed so much to want, I think, like someone insisting on clean water to drink every time they are thirsty in a land where people are keeling over from dehydration all around. We had little experience of respectful conversation as kids, though both of our parents were otherwise quite intelligent. Being funny was something we were used to, and my sister has a quick wit, as did the rest of the war party around our dinner table.
“A joke is the epitaph on the tombstone of a feeling,” said a dime store philosopher named Nietzsche. True dat, Fredrich, as was “without music, life would be a mistake”, which goes without saying, and really, except for its indisputable truth, has no place here.
I am not one to be coy about my feelings or opinions here, or anywhere, really, but this post is going to be a bit more personal than usual because it’s about how something made me feel about my own life today. I was surprised at how acutely I felt it, under my skin, in my blood and cells.
Which, by way of semi-amusing digression, calls to mind this email I had blind cc’d to me recently from a guy I was friends with years back, a great improviser on trumpet who really listened, as all great improvisers must, a brilliant photographer, a man of many talents:
Probably one of the most “in-depth” interviews I ever have given to anyone.