Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Picture The Scene: Roaring Fire, Overflowing Bookshelves, Scent Of Slight Abuse Of Power

Good evening, class. Please come into my beautifully well-appointed study. Tonight we're going to pick up where we left last time, and consider what it is about writing that can so enrapture one's heart and muddle up one's rational thinking processes. Let's start by considering the words kindly left by M Bete de Jour. No, no, you can't see them sitting all the way over there. Come a little closer. Here, I'll shuffle up my lavishly overstuffed Chesterfield. But not quite enough for anyone's comfort except mine. Just let the tops of your thigh awkwardly rest against me. That's the way. Ahh, yes. That is definitely the way.

Anyway! Over to La Bete:

I think we fall for writers because writing is a short cut to the soul. Words are everything, aren't they? Most of the time. But sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes writers lie. I don't mean the twists and tweaks that I (for example) perpetrate to keep myself hidden (although some people would count those as lies of a most dastardly order, I'm sure), but big emotional lies.... Actually, maybe writers lying isn't the problem - maybe it is just that we read them wrong. I mean, there's no way that Kurt Vonnegut, for example, who I think is one of the warmest and most decent human beings I've ever read - there's no way that he could have been a bad person in real life. I just don't believe that. But then there are other writers, who may be brilliant and outrageous and incendiary and inspiring even - no names mentioned, but maybe your David falls into this category - who in real life are wholly self-centred and utterly incapable of properly relating to other human beings or opening themselves up. Yet because we love their writing, we assume they're wonderful people. Maybe we just blind ourselves with our admiration.

OK. Let's all hold hands and turn to each other and laugh and run and gaily plunge right into the big 'un. Writing is a short cut to the soul. A distinction first, between fiction writing and the kind of stuff I want to refer to more, blogs, columns, confessional, personal stuff. Not that there might be much difference; it must be very easy for a person with a modicum of imagination (that's a standard scientific unit - 1 modicum equals 12,000 Boormans, and no, I will never let this grudge lie) to create a character purporting to be themselves that is every bit as fictional as the most heroic and sympathetic of imaginary folk. Assuming that there is no cynical manipulation, and what goes on the page or screen is them, it IS their soul bared in saucy textuality, is that the real them, or maybe a more polished, confident representation of the best of them, and is that what we fall for?

I mean, I dunno about other bloggers, but this is not what I sound like in real life. There's something about putting yourself and your experiences and sometimes your innermost, most boring thoughts onto a blog, then sharing them with potentially everyone with a working fucking laptop thanks very MUCH Dell with your stupid graphics card that literally can't stand the heat and blows up 2 weeks after warranty...excuse me, I must wipe the angry foam away before it leaks onto my little netbook and I am stranded from the land of the internet forever, clinking sadly like the Saucepan Man as the cloud moves away from the top of the Faraway Tree... Yes, sharing them with potentially anyone, that is paradoxically and simultaneously really cowardly and monumentally overconfident and arrogant. I don't have my real name anywhere near this, although most people who read it know me *waves maniacally till wrist snaps* because I'm petrified that someone I vaguely know will read it and think it's crap. And it will affect what they think of me in real life. That is cowardly. But also, I am not a gregarious sort, and there is no way I would ever go up to someone at a party (or indeed go to a party) and go "Hey! Wanna hear my views on Derren Brown? The G20? Earlsfield Library? Pull up a pew! It'll take hours and hours and hours!" But, and this is arrogant, I'm perfectly happy to do it on the internet. Maybe because I don't have to watch them going glassy-eyed with boredom, then glassy-faced with boredom-related death.

Point? Oh, must I? OK. Point. I agree that writing is a short cut to the soul. I think what comes out onto this blog is as close to me as anyone's ever gonna get, but a me that a lot of people in my real life don't see, a me that is confident, outgoing, shiny, and has absolutely perfect, and I mean heartbreakingly, angels weep, heaven itself is ripped asunder by the unending beauty of it all perfect, tits. And when I read other people's blogs and columns, I assume that's what's coming through too. (Not the tits. OK, mostly the tits.) So if the substance is there, the soul is there to be connected with, and all the crap of normal life that gets in the way, that makes you self-conscious and self-centred, closed and unresponsive, and frankly human, is not, it makes it very easy to think you're falling for someone.

OK, but can that ever be real? Wellllll. Not in my sorry experience. But maybe for someone, somewhere it will be. I hope so. That would be nice. Not me though.

Last thing, and then I promise I will never mention him again, cos, you know, as my sidebar will always state, OBSESS MUCH?! I made a trip into Big London today to the Big Foyles to buy Mr Cattermole's book. I found it, in a rare moment of Dewey Decimal System Hilarity, in the Relationships section surrounded by the lurid pinks and reds of various sexy sex sex SEX guides. I quite wanted to take a picture but a) woman in large army coat slightly flushed and sticky from brisk walk hanging suspiciously round the Kama Sutra? Not sure what impression that would beam out into the world but I'm pretty sure it's exactly the wrong one and b) there was a ridiculously well-adjusted couple giggling over the more salacious books, presumably before going and having a ridiculously well-adjusted shag that no mere written words could ever improve. Sod 'em. I'm sure they sod each other. Urgh. Anyway, I'm about three chapters in, and I highly recommend it, but possibly for not reading on a crowded train where you will laugh and people will peek and their peeking eyes will see extraordinary streams of filth and their noses will crinkle and their feet will shuffle away. Though, actually, more room. Yay! And I am looking forward to seeing if I will, by the end of the book, be utterly enamoured or merely completely infatuated. It's nice to have choices.


Ishouldbeworking said...

I think you're harsh to accuse yourself of cowardice because you post pseudonymously (possibly because I do as well!).

I keep my own name out because I know at least one or two of my friends would think it great sport to come on and write silly comments on my blog, in a not unkind but silly, matey, piss-taking way. Or they would be unable to resist piling in with their own version of events ("They played 'Silver Shorts SECOND on the set list!"). It's the sort of conversational flourish I can handle in real life but the purpose of my blog is to cut through all that, and to emerge with something more distilled, that is just me.

As someone who spends most of her life listening (to wit: my job, and my natural predisposition), having the freedom to speak without interruption or distraction is hugely valuable and therapeutic, and though I like to know that there is a 'listener/reader' there, in blogging my concern is really less with the reader than with my own voice. The deal I make with myself is never to edit or prepare anything I write; it just comes out as I sit down and type. I'm not consciously trying to make the reader like me (though subconsciously I'm sure I edit all the time.). Whether what you end up with is an imprint of my soul, is hard to say, but it's as honest as I can be.

That may sound terribly solipsistic and probably is, but it seems a kind of 'contained' solipsism so I can handle that charge. And I make up for it in life by being the last person in the world who would EVER interrupt someone else with the words "oh that happened to ME.' Honest!

justrestingmyeyes said...

Hmm. I am quite displeased with my original post, I must say, but no editing! Must live with bad writing! Onwards and upwards! And so on and so on.

I sincerely hope I didn't cause any offence to you, ISBW (though it seems unlikely) - I did not mean to say that blogging anonymously itself was cowardly, just that MY reasons for doing it were cowardly. And solipsism is just part of the deadly deal when you're blogging, I think, although I would say that one of the many reasons I *love* your blog is that it seems to be completely free of the sheen of self-absorbtion that most are plagued with. It's just a bloody good read. But you come across so well as well...not that needed saying...Oh, gosh. I'm tying myself up in knots here, so maybe I should just go away for a bit...

Argh! No more self-regarding stuff! All future posts must be about Charley Boorman and/or my cat! Hooray!

Ishouldbeworking said...

God, NO, you haven't offended me one bit! I was just saying 'don't be so hard on yourself'. And be as self-regarding as you like (though I've never seen you in that light at all! It's your blog and you can do exactly what you want with it, and how many bits of our lives do we get to say that about?

PS, completely unrelatedly, I went to a very good Korean restaurant in your neck of the woods recently. Really friendly staff and great kimchi..and you can take your own wine!

justrestingmyeyes said...

Oh I am relieved. And thank you again, you always have such nice words for me. Hug? OK, maybe not. :)

I went to that Korean place myself for the first time last week, and I quite agree! SO good. And just the friendliest, right? Another win for Earlsfield.