Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fifty: Streaming

Once upon a time, after someone had said unpleasant things about me on line, a young companion offered me support and caring and wrote to say that "you are not your blog". I found that message in my archives a few nights ago, and it did give me something to think about. I know what she meant by it, but I have to wonder about how true it is in at least my own case. I've spent a large part of my life writing about things, and of course much of my life has been lived in and through books. I've always invested a lot of myself in what I write, and I invest a lot in what I read, too. I am what I write, and I suppose I am what I read, too. I've written about that here--- about the things I've learned from books, about the way I've always searched through texts and films for images and ideas and objects for constructing a life.

I do spend far too much time on line reading journals and blogs and Tumblrs. It's hard for me not to think of each of the sites I visit as a kind of alien world that I'm observing from orbit, or trying to reconstruct from Hubble images. It's harder still not to think of personal blogs and journals and Tumblrs as a world of streaming films, of long-running telenovelas. When I find a blog or a journal I like, I always look at it as a roman fleuve, as an ongoing story that I want to follow into the future. I do become a bit possessive about the blogs and the stories they tell, and I'm always glum if they vanished or are simply abandoned. There are a few sites out on the web that I've followed for seven or eight years, and I'd hate to lose those voices and the stories they tell.

The downside of that of course is that it's hard--- perhaps impossible ---to think of the blogs or journals as being about flesh-and-blood people. My rooms are filled with books and DVDs; each one of them is a set of stories about lives. The lives inside novels and films are real to me, and always have been. I suppose I read the entries at blogs and journals and regard them as novels, as telenovelas. I read the stories there as being about characters, and I take from them what I take from novels on my shelves.

That does raise the issue of what I take from entries about sexual adventures and experiences. Some of the entries I've found have been well-crafted and very powerful. Those are the stories I want to know about in detail, to deconstruct and analyze the way I do erotic literature or films. It might be better for me to just read them as erotica, to read them and think they're hot and arousing. That would at least mean that I was taking the stories to be about people. But I spend time breaking them down into more abstract parts, trying to infer what I can about sets and settings, about characters and their lives. Or their character arcs. I think less of the lives than of the function of the characters, of their roles in plot structures. It might be more human if I read the entries to find fantasy material, but I've never quite done that. I read the entries for a sense of alien worlds and a sense of detachment from where I am. I keep reading with the same attitude I take toward romans fleuves or series novels. I obsess over what will happen next, and over how the author will keep the plot alive.  There's a kind of demanding cruelty there, I suppose. I'm demanding that the invisible authors hold my interest, and of course I'm as invisible to them as they are to me.

Darkness, obsession, transgression, risk, adventure--- I want all that from what I read. Stories that end with a girl finding true love and contentment and an ordinary life are...well...failures. I've never liked it when a novel or a series or a film ends. I want it to go on and on, to keep exploring, and to be part of a world that's aspirational and elegant and still suffused with a sense of darkness. It might be more human just to read and look for fantasies that could be used either with young companions or for the Solitary Vice, but I'm not reading for anything with a direct or unmediated physical use. It's the worlds that I want. I want the structures of those worlds: places, settings, lighting, wardrobes, social markers. I want the ambience, of course: elegance, darkness, stylishness,  class. I don't expect the character-girls to serve as fantasy images; I expect them to serve as carriers for stories. I could laugh and call it a kind of structuralist fetish, but I do wonder about what I'm actually doing here.

I'm not reading for the lives of people I can easily see as "real". I'm not reading for utilitarian things, for sexual fantasies. I'm not reading to watch people change or grow. I'm reading what I hope will go on forever, characters that I like moving through different highly formal plot structures and offering up lists and accounts of other worlds. I want the girls portrayed in the blogs to have dark adventures and explore all the labyrinths of the erotic. But I care about the structures and not flesh and orgasms. That's a different kind of demand, and one that is less human.

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