Sunday, March 26, 2006

I'm Fat! I'm Stupid! Oh Yeah!

I think the written word takes the "personal" of the writer and imbues it with a sense of the "universal" for the reader. I do not believe this is a feature of good writing, but a function of reading. I am unsure whether readers, and writers, consider the transformation that words undergo throughout this process. Sometimes, and clearly so, the writer takes the personal and communicates it as though it were, or ought be, universal. The author seeks to direct the reader to a series of conclusions at which the author arrived previously. Sometimes the reader makes a little too much of another person's personal and takes it personally.

I offer this preamble in view of the recent ruckus arising from a post by a thoughtful young lady on the issue of... I'm not exactly sure what the point of the post was, I was too busy looking at her picture. It is safe to say the readers and the writer appear to diverge on the what the point of the post is, or was. The volume of mean-spirited comments directed at the author suggests more than a few people in the 'net have taken off their tinfoil helmets, or need to put them back on, or something.

Another blog-typer, who appears to be a real smart guy and all that (of course, I have never met the man, I only have what he has typed about himself, what his wife has typed about him, and the occasional third-party corroboration to go on), recently attempted to cut throught the veils of nonsense which began with the "offending" post, and showered down mightily afterward until the original idea, whatever it was, looked like a large pile of unattended laundry. In spite of my general distrust of smart people I found myself in agreement with the smart guy in question, thinking: this is well-considered, thoughtfully argued, understandable... until the author ventured to direct his readers what to do in the face of mortality. That made me mad. (Mind you, it takes very little to irk me, and I probably misunderstand the point of the post in question.)(Plus anger is approximately 50% of my emotional bank, the balance being panicky pants-staining fear.) It isn't that he is wrong - I can't say he is. I can't say he is the only person in the blogoverse trying to tell someone else what to do. Far from it. I wanted to comment on the post, to tell this writer what he could do with his directions, but there were so many gushy "you are SO right" comments (shivers), I figured my wee pot of piss really belonged somewhere else, like here, in P-corner.

I have dwelt a little on the subject a little further and have located the source of my discomfort. I have decided, dear internet, that it is time for me to remove one or two of my veils: I really really want to tell you (whoever you are) exactly what to do.

I want to tell you how to approach birth, death, life. I want to tell you about your ideal weight and marriage (which mine, of course, epitomizes), the right books to read, albums to purchase... I'd like to relate to you, without a hint of self-doubt, my beliefs on these various subjects and to argue as to a way of life which is more reasoned, more clearly felt, well, just better than yours. I will suggest you trim your pubic hair in my likeness, for it will please me, and therefore will please your partner (or partners, god bless).

In return, you will comment on my post. You will compliment me on whatever it is you want to see in whatever is I typed and you shall do so without reservation. The position I have taken will be sufficiently appealing to you as to lead you to offer blandishments, support, and other unconditional signs of encouragement which I, a complete stranger to you, will feel good about. You will comment on your toilette, including whether you wax your "business" on account of your considerate nature. You will tell me other personal and frankly, internet, disturbing details about yourself. You won't be able to help yourself. I won't be able to help myself. We will become co-dependent. I will tell you what I think you need to hear, you will tell me what you think I think you think I need to think you are hearing. We will grow apart when we fail to meet this standard. We will seek counselling. We will break up messily. Toxic comments will appear and I will cry... why don't you listen to me, internet? Where is our sweet (self) love?

The fact is, internet, you are populated with knives (as the song goes). You are sick sick sick, and even in the warm and fuzzy world of the parent, parent & parent, baby & parent, baby & parent & small mammal blogs, you are rife with the psychotic, the angry (Hi Mom!), the sanctimonious, the holier than thou, the more neatly trimmed pudenda-ier than thou. And you, you sick fuck, you need my insights like a duck needs, um, webbed feet. Otherwise you'd be a chicken and you would drown. You need me to improve upon you, to enlighten you with tales based upon my recollections of prep school and university (mostly bong hits and double-barreled purple mikes, but whatever), my tour of Vietnam (wait, I mean the time I saw Platoon on d-bpm). I shall issue forth with heart-warming tales drawn from my experience (at least, what I think I remember). You will be grateful.

I'd like to do all this for you, poor internet, but I can't. I must confess (sound of veil falling) to being average in height, weight, and build; below average in impulse control, anger management, and in my ability to turn down delicious, hot, crema-laden espresso; I am self-absorbed, flatulent, obsessed by those weird ingrown hairs that show up on the undersides of my thighs. I like to pick at them, and do so, even though I have failed to discuss their appearance with Mo. I complain about nothing and my wife suffers it. In spite of a fun, unemployed summer in 2000, I still don't have a reliable second serve (or first serve for that matter - a half-decent player can read a magazine on my service games and still win 1/2 of them).

In short, I am in no position to tell anyone what to do, what to think, how to look, and so on. I suspect, although I cannot verify this, you aren't either.


Blogger L. said...

Well, I`m a pretty cynical human, p-man, but I think the reason Dutch`s posts don`t bother me the way they seem to viscerally bother you is that I always imagine, when he says stuff like, "Look at your spouse or your lover tonight, hold them tight, and think about your future together..." that he isn`t really talking to me as much as he`s talking to HIMSELF. It is advice he`s giving to his inner Dutch, and not necessarily to the general public. When he writes lines like that, I imagine him looking at Wood, holding her tight and thinking about their future together -- not ordering me to do the same. I mean, ordering me to do it with my husband, not with Wood.
Ok, shut up now.

11:24 a.m.  
Anonymous p-man said...

Mea culpa. As a postscript I can see how this is a Dutch-centric post. I apologize without reservation to Dutch.

I'm all for hearing what x is going to do with or to y. I'd like pictures, in fact.

My point, such as it is, and not the one which constitutes the top of my head, goes more to my own insecurities surrounding authority/perceived authority, which are of long-standing, and which are a part of the blogging -as-cheap-therapy thing I have going here.

Incidentally, I take great umbrage with your suggestion that I am cynical. I am as naive as a week-old lamb. Mint sauce?

1:10 p.m.  
Blogger Dutch said...

oh p-man. you're too old for me to help you.

5:18 p.m.  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I certainly didn't take Dutch's words as an order. But it's draining those words of their force (whether one likes that force or not) to say that they were the words of an inner dialogue. He is - we all are - writing for ourselves, of course. But we're also all writing for an audience. He was writing to *his* audience - I would go so far to say that, in fact, that entire post was on some level all about one's relationship to one's audience. It may not have been an order - but it was certainly a very, very strong suggestion.

In any case. I appreciated your characterization of the Internet here, p-man. And issues surrounding authority/perceived authority are always interesting to bat around, especially in superficially warm-and-fuzzy sphere of parent blogging. So bat away - it's refreshing.

7:41 a.m.  

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