I just read an article in the NY Times by Brooklyn blogger Emily Gould about the extreme pitfalls of exposing your personal life on the web. I have rarely gotten into that kind of trouble. I was born a fiction writer, a dramatist, I spend the vast majority of my time making things up, but, a blog’s lure to chew on ‘reality’ is irresistible, especially if it is my own.
It ain’t hard. My mother just called. She is an unending source of inspiration and crack lines. In fifteen minutes, our power-chat covers my cousin Sara’s 80th birthday, calcium, constipation, and our deepest feelings (and I mean- bottom of the ocean floor deep). Based on itch in my fingers, I could weave our verbal thread into solid gold, or at least- a guffaw, but would my very private mom mind if I got into the nitty-gritty about, say, her intestinal tract? What about mine? Do you want to know the unfiltered truth??
In the masterwork AMERICAN PASTORAL, Philip Roth’s fictional writer Nathan Zuckerman advises its main character not to befriend a writer if he doesn’t want his confessions to show up in a book. Lenny Bruce said the question of his influences is absurd- he was influenced by his every waking hour. And to prove it- his real-life crew was shmeared all over his art. In the name of Chris Rock’s latest show- “No Apologies.”
Emily Gould blogged about everything and everyone, no holds barred, with no fictional veil to protect the innocent, let alone the guilty. She stood in front of the firing squad and they shot her down. One could call it a suicide. While I am rattled by her cautionary tale, I can’t help but think, nay, know that simply put: life is grist for the mill. In the name of inspiration, provocation and transformation (put that on your mirror and sniff it): nothing and no one is ever really safe.
(Sabah) Now you see her, now you don’t
For some fun and games, check out the following pseudo-memoirs: Lenny Bruce’s “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People” and Philip Roth’s “The Facts.”
FAN THE FLAMES
4 Responses to The Truth and nothing but
I would chime in that it really depends on the objectives of the blog… For example, heavy traffic & notoriety need a certain style. Emily Gould probably went over the line in the “ethics” area which helped the site get traffic, but has a wicked payback. In the end of the day, harkening back to Rousseau’s Confessions, the intentions of writing are rarely for an audience of one…and consequently the presence of the [anticipated] reader is always there. But a full disclosure “transparent” blog is often just not interesting to Joe Bloggs (that was a term ahead of its time). There has to be some kind of a thread to gain traction and readership. The problem with oversharing (as Emily says) is that it is permanent. And I think any writer is trying to master the tone and effect of the words coming forth. If it’s to express your own zeitgeist then, as you say, life is grist… And for the friends, that is like a direct conversation with you. And that, as we know, is always a treat.
Always happy to hear you chime your bells, M. You’re right, so far the thread is my own zeitgeist- keep those comments coming and please help spread the word!
Love to you in Paris
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