“I’m writing a kind of collection of essays about online relationships or about an online relationship and the way that that kind of affects your sense of identity and your sense of yourself in place because online tends to flatten things. Everything seems to be simultaneously available and you can skip between things. I guess that’s what we hear about the way people read now. They skip between lots of short things instead of progressing in a linear fashion through one long thing. I don’t know the creative possibilities of digital, because I don’t know if I’ve seen that successfully realized yet, but certainly I’m interested by the way that it interacts. It doesn’t necessarily make the way we think different, but it kind of links up with something which is already there: the non-linearity of our thought processes and of our perceptions and our identities.” – Joanna Walsh
“It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious, and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty rather than of knowledge.” – Dr. Johnson
“Not like the rest of my family! Please! High-minded me and altogether superior, I’d read a book for a start!”- Anna Fierling
I’m starting to understand why old men are content to stick their hands in their back pockets and stare into infinite space.
This might take some time.
People claim F. Scott Fitzgerald once said something like, you don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. Anyone who’s ever seen any incarnation of this page knows that I’ve never let a trivial thing like that stop me which in turn doesn’t explain why the page has gone fallow for so long. Initially I was going to start off with a joke about how I was either suffering from writer’s block or early onset Alzheimer’s. The joke withered as I was talking to someone last week who will lose a very close family member in the next couple of years to early onset. The individual in question will probably be dead before reaching the age of 50. Having lost my father to a variant of the disease and having lived through the experience I found that throw-away line to be more of a spur than an amusing space filler.
As my father slipped away there were times where you could step away from the grief and pain and see how much of him was shaped by the times he lived through and how much of him was his core personality, i.e. that part of you which would make your mother say, “There you go again!” My various memories of all that came back to me last weekend as Alaska Wolf Joe insisted that there be a family outing to see Mother Courage and Her Children. After the performance AWJ, our resident Brecht scholar, was very curious to know what we thought.
I told him his grandfather would have loved it. In fact I could hear my father’s voice in my head. He would have walked out of that theater a happy man telling anyone who would listen, “She was makin’ a livin’! That’s what it’s all about makin’ a livin’!!”
AWJ, more than a tad stunned said, “Then he would have missed the point?”
OK so Brecht is about a subtle as a well thrown brick. That’s why high school English teachers don’t like him. He’s not like that yummy Henry James where what’s being said is all about what’s not being said. Brecht couldn’t be bothered with that sort of thing. That’s why no self-respecting high school English teacher wants stand in front of a classroom and say, “So when the angry young soldier tells Mother Courage, ‘Fuck you!’ what do you think he really means?”
uhhhh … fuck you?
As odd as it might seem this was a parenting moment.
While we can make the case – and I saw this was where AWJ’s thoughts were heading – that the author loses control of the text that was not the case here. My father simply would have missed the point.
AWJ was a tad saddened by all that. He’d like to believe that he comes from some long line of thinkers and intellectuals, but he does not. He was particularly upset a few years ago when I told him his favorite relative of legend, my ne’er-do-well Uncle Jussi was not a great thinker, he was just a lout. Sure, he could read and write, or at least read and write as he could given the fact that he did little of either after leaving high school.
But hold a complex thought in his mind for longer that 10 seconds?
Which brings us around to the question, how did I, or more importantly, we get here?
It’s said that Alzheimer’s victims only experience a constant and bewildering present, unable to remember anything from the past even if it was a thing critical to dealing with the future. That’s why it was little wonder to me that my father was consumed in such a way. Like my other he was drug through the Depression only to have to deal with the war. They were people of the The Great Now, so burdened with basic needs that that thinking about the future was a waste of time and thinking about the past was unacceptable escapism. In that divide of self – the core personality and the persona shaped by events – it was easy to sort one from the other as he creeped every so slowly to the grave.
And my generation of the family?
Nothing of the kind applied to us. Despite that I am still without as my as a genetic fellow traveler much less a biological doppelgänger. The rest were content to manually sort reports to the home office or every so quietly do some bookkeeping.
So how did I get here?
As stated earlier – this might take some time. It also might take some space which is both good news and bad news. One the one hand it means this page might be updated more frequently, but it also means – sadly- that this page might be updated more frequently.