Sunday, December 11, 2005

Norman

This is the titular male of this family knuckling away at the keyboard praying the spell check device is active and growing teary as yet another run on sentence emanates from the aforementioned knuckles. It's a hard-knock life. I have no irises in my eyes!

I am sure this is all very meta-something and last semester's post-modernism is this year's post-structuralist-something something teleology, semiotics, I don't know. It's last year's orange, which is this year's stinky pile of blue dust and what I am trying to say is that the blog world is like some kind of Orwellian crack, but you know, I can stop any time I want, I just don't want to. Got $5? So, I'm the guy who stayed in the cave too long. The universe has been basking in the warm pixel glow of blog-lives, forming communities, sharing experiences, finding ways to sell out (please tell me how) while I have been re-re-viewing my Hunter VHS collection in the fake-wood paneled basement, alone and unwashed.

So now we're reading these blogs about people's lives and it's pretty visceral, no? People I don't know, who appear to obtain (in most cases) no direct remuneration for their efforts, sharing details about their shaved/unshaved pudenda, bowel movements, their fears, hopes, and all that horrible stuff. I have born witness to freaky shit from folks to whom the separation of church and state represents a gross error in judgment, people who may actually like certain thespians who have novel ideas regarding vitamins (I LOVE VITAMINS! VITAMINNNS!). It is rather fascinating in a car-accident-rubbernecking kind of way. It isn't as if I have a clue what I'm saying here, but there must be a certain freedom to entering this forum, to the revealing or re-veiling of a personal archetype, a version of oneself designed for public consumption, a self controlled by its author, much unlike one's self. Neal Stephenson's avatars without nunchuk skills. I'm typing myself into existence now and it's great!

Preamble aside I am compelled to comment on a recent posting on another site which, like this one, is at least notionally dedicated to a child, and which, unlike this one, has readers. Rather than vent to the author, who will reply and be mean, I will hide my response in plain sight in the onterweb where no-one will read it. I LOVE BLOGS! The author, who is a young man, a parent, a lawyer, and a professional baby-blog-typer, commonly riffs on parenting in a manner reminiscent of some great american writer I've never heard of. He's the Norman Mailer of baby blogs, but taller. In any event, I have on occasion enjoyed reading about his life and his cute little kid and all that kind of freaky blog stuff, but the other day this author spouted off this claptrap that, while ostensibly cloaked in a knowing wink of 'irony' and a knowing tongue in cheek, has upset me and made me cry. Irony is a literary device. It is not a life device. A dildo is a life device.

The essence of the message is "listen to me I'm really smart" and that I can live with, that's the avatar. I want to be that avatar. The message behind it, the text of the message, was "Jeez, people I know know I am not a consumer, I am UNTAINTED by crass consumerism, I grow vegetables in my own fecal matter... I am pure, but listen to me now, meek readers: this Christmas you must consume, and consume american, don't go to a chain store and buy stuff made in other countries, nope, buy american and here are some products I will shill for right now and some handy interweb linkage, and buy this stuff, don't buy the other stuff, and I know what I am talking about, I blog at a web site blog-thing that targets baby products at people like you, my dear readers." The author then provides some handy justifications for his stance touting isolationist policies, like the illegitimate love-child of Woodrow Wilson and John Kerry, in a manner which guarantees we'll never be able to sell our beef in Wisconsin again. Or cute little cow dolls in santa hats. Granted, I have paraphrased the original posting, and I have done so unfairly, but I am not writing this to be fair. It's therapeutic!

So, what I would blog to this avatar, if I had the 'nads to do so, would be:

Shut up you silly little man. Stuff is stuff, wherever it's made. Buying is buying and there are enough people instructing me on what to purchase, when, where, and so on. Let people live their lives as best they can without somebody else telling them what to do, especially you, you simulated human...

or words to that effect. Of course, in so doing, I'd be yet another voice telling that young man what to do, and apparently I resent that. I should add I read his site voluntarily, I could've stopped anytime and didn't, but it's his fault I got pissed off. Yep.

P-man out.

7 Comments:

Blogger L. said...

Dutch also hit a nerve in one of his Blogging Baby posts, when he opined that it was foolish to give piles of holiday gifts to tiny infants who didn`t understand what was going on around them.
Funny, how people`s shopping recommendations/habits can hit so many nerves.

10:10 a.m.  
Blogger Dutch said...

P-man, the thing is, you've actually missed eviscerating me for my most flagrant foul with the whole "buy-handmade-shit!" thing. only because you have challenged me in a way that I welcome and actually crave (but why the fuck didn't you do it my blog or on BB?) I will admit the truth: I am a condescending pretentious judgmental fuck who saw a way to point out a hypocrisy among the wal-mart set and exploited it cheaply and with the sophistication of a 9th grade high school debater.

the truth is I care very little about WHERE the material things I enjoy are made. I did grow up in industrial Michigan during the 1980s when Chinese teenagers were getting murdered in Detroit because redneck UAW types thought they were Japanese, and thus in their rage-polluted minds figureheads for the Honda and Toyota corporations. so I truly understand that there are some Americans who truly feel the way I acted like I feel in the post you reference. I don't know how much you've been down here in the last four years but there are a hell of a lot of scary motherfuckers waving American flags made in China. I don't like anyone waving flags of any kind, except for semaphores. those are kind of awesome.

ah, but then there are all these adbusterian anarchist anti-Wal Mart activists who talk about the destruction of communities and the treatment of labor, etc. They annoy me too, just less so. I just wanted to point out that all those bad country-music lovin' flag wavin Iraq qar supporting idiots out there are supporting a corporation (Wal-Mart) and a country (China) to the detriment of their beloved communities which they see representative of America as a whole.

It's a silly point, and wholly unrelated to all the handmade stuff I was directing readers to. And you're right to call me out on it. But you should notice that there are 4-5 Canadian sellers on that list too.

If I had just smoked a joint I could probably write for awhile about my sadness at the lack of craftsmanship in the modern industrial world, the fact that most Americans don't know how to make shit beyond adding milk to their cereal. I have a bit of the miniver cheevy in me, I yearn for simpler times long ago when people actually knew how to grow and make things. I guess that comes from my blue collar stock combined with dangerous amounts of university-bred idealism. So that's where I'll argue with you: True, I am a total asshole, but stuff ain't just stuff man. I've made a lot of my own things by hand and the emotional attachment I have to that stuff is much greater than to anything I've ever bought. The same is true for things that people have made for me. And even for things I have "bought" but were handcrafted with care or under decent working conditions. I have been through the industrial wastelands outside Shanghai and Beijing where our stuff is made. The people are happy to have the work, true, but there is just something so ominously depressing about it all.

I never saw my role as telling people what to do. I wrote that post to give people an alternative to products advertised elsewhere and the conventional wisdom spouted off by the blogging baby people and everyone else this time of year about one mass-produced product or another. If 4/5 writers on BB were going to go be gung-ho about writing shit about one commericial product or another, I thought I at least 1/5 could try to shout out above the rest of them that that's not the only option. . .

well, you've made me think and for that I thank you. You and your wife are both fine writers---perhaps too fine for the average blog reader. keep it up though, you're clearly not doing it for the average blog reader.

3:27 p.m.  
Blogger L. said...

Wow. That is the most amazing comment I have ever seen anyone make on a blog.
(I personally could not care less, either way, about the whole shopping thing, but I am loving both sides of this well-written discussion.)

8:14 a.m.  
Blogger Larissa said...

I too like these discussions a lot, especially when they include Dutch. Because he's not one of those bloggers who writes something, and then when someone calls him on it just says Hey this is my blog, go away if you're not gonna be nice.

I loved your post too, P-man. Together the set of posts made me think, and I think I come down on the side of stuff is not just stuff, it has varying qualities and meanings and some of those qualities can be based on where, how, and by whom it's made. But I also buy crap. In fact, my husband is at IKEA right now! Thanks for the debate, in which I feel like I live both sides at one time or another.

10:25 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P-man here. Thank you for your comments.

I still think material objects are just that and any additional value or status is supplied to the object by the owner, viewer, or maker (like the impish types who manufacture IKEA goods so couples can argue throughout assembly). This suggests to me the attribute given to the object is descriptive of the person and not of the object itself whose thingness is only understood in reference to our means of understanding it... hmm. I am more of a wanker than I thought.

I'd be lying if I suggested I am somehow above materialist tendencies. I am an idolator of objects. A thing-lover. I. Love. Thiiiiingssss.

2:24 p.m.  
Anonymous MIM said...

As an average blog reader who has to use a dictionary to read your most well-written posts and Dutch's comments, I'd just like to say that I had the same thoughts as you.

But then again, I don't think my comments really matter since I'm just an AVERAGE blog reader. Yup. Me loves me some things.

2:23 p.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

Just another average blog reader with a totally average blog checking in to say hello.

I've been a Dutch fan for a while. The first time I read one of his Blogging Baby comments I thought "who is this person?". Then I got hooked.

I stumbled across a couple of friends here who had already found you. L. and I follow each other around a lot and MIM and I run into each other now and then.

Happy whatever you're calling it as well. The baby is beautiful.

Come visit my totally average blog sometime.

9:04 a.m.  

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