Literary Chicken vs. Information Sickness in 2D, or Putting The Chicken in Literary

I forget that people read this blog sometimes. Then I spend a few months away and am greeted with comments waiting to be moderated and more page views than I would have thought possible. Sorry about that.

It seems that there is something in my makeup as a human being that causes me to, with regularity, become fed up with whatever Internet sites I've been frequenting and to avoid them like the plague, or even The Plague (by Camus, you know, it's kind of a downer). There are several reasons for this. One is that I put more energy into an act as simple as writing an e-mail than should be possible or really legal. It doesn't matter whether the person I'm writing to is someone who I'm particularly trying to impress or not. My mom complains that I don't keep in touch more often and I think she would be surprised at how I frequently spend approximately a half-hour composing something along the lines of, "Hey mom. How is it going? I have not seen any good movies lately. Have you seen any good movies lately?" and then cursing my lamentable existence as I reluctantly hit SEND. Another example: I am really worried right now about setting off full sentences in quotes in the middle of a sentence. It seems tacky and I am afraid some grammar snob wearing Elements of Style in place of underwear is going to accuse me of not graduating college, which would be the truth, though for some reason it's not having graduated high school that comprises my regular series of nightmares. At the same time, I'm not really afraid of this at all, I'm just obsessive. It bothers me that I can write and write and write and then not remember exactly what I've written and conceive of it as some sort of cohesive whole before I, for instance, post this. (I think I've only deleted three sentences or so while writing this paragraph, surely a record for me.) And then I worry about little things. Does "conceive" mean what I remember it meaning? How could I possibly be unsure of that? Shit, I better check. Here I go. And I've finally stumbled upon a dictionary example sentence that justifies my use of it in the sentence above. Phew. Seriously, how does that happen? I've used that particular phrase probably at least hundreds of times. Should I check on "cohesive"? No, leaveitleaveitleaveitleaveitleaveit. You see how exhausting this all is.

Now, as I begin my third paragraph, I've skimmed the second through at least twice. Yes, this tendency of mine might seem fairly useless. It also might seem that I care inordinately what you think of me. That's because I do. As I said, if I'm writing something, my compulsion to polish and obsess (find a synonym? already said "obsessive") is not dependent on whether the reader is someone I am trying to impress. (Hold on, time for another re-reading of the last few lines of the second paragraph. Good? Okay.) Because someone who I normally would never think about trying to impress, becomes, through the act of me writing something they will be reading, someone whose brain I really care about on a deep and passionate level.

I make quite a sincere effort to separate my actual writing from the feelings I have surrounding writing and the other points I choose to discuss freely on this blog. In fact, I often think I might like to always leave it this way, and never discuss publication or plug my work on here, etc., as I've never really felt that that (AHHHHHH) is what this blog is about. But regardless of any of this, I can't turn off the tendencies I have (awkward?) when writing for an audience. It doesn't matter if it's an e-mail, a Facebook comment, a poem, or a book. It still feels as though my thoughts, however stupid, simple, juvenile, or hostile, must be presented in a clear, digestible manner that is respectful to both the thoughts themselves and the person reading them. (What am I going to do about all these commas?) If I don't feel I've succeeded in doing this, I feel that I've just added to the collective pile of vomit that is at least 99% of printed matter. I don't feel that I'm being insulting to humanity by saying this, because if most of the supposed "information" floating around is utter crap, I don't think it's despite the fact that anyone is really attempting to make it better. As they proved on Mythbusters, you can actually polish a turd, and if most people made a serious attempt to arrange the drivel in their minds (and this right here is nothing if not drivel) into something thoughtful or thought-provoking, most of them would probably succeed.

(This is the point at which I normally stop, become embarrassed, and delete everything I've written.) 

But I don't think most people consider the printed word as something that has value in and of itself. It is considered primarily a way of transporting information from one place to another. Again, this is not a criticism. It really is just a question of values (here I'm berating myself for being too lazy to use a thesaurus or just my brain, a little more thoroughly). The reason why it's important to me, though, what's ultimately behind it, is not just blind neurosis (article? no?) but the idea that the form which the information takes can, in effect, transform it. You see, for example, how me breaking up that sentence with "in effect" helped mitigate, while not completely eliminate, the inherent smarminess of it.

It is still exhausting. But I find it is the only way to combat the bane of my existence, that is, information sickness. When I'm in a mood to blame something for everything, this really fits the bill every time, because as far as I'm concerned the reason why I can't spend more than an hour in Barnes and Noble is the same reason why I briefly want to punch every third person who links to a political opinion article on Facebook (sorry, guys) is the same reason why I can't have a serious discussion about anything with more than three (and not any three) people at a time is the same reason why hearing the phrase "I'm passionate about" makes me want to never attempt to express myself in any way, shape or form, is the same reason why in horrible sorry self-pitying summary I can't live a normal existence. It's not enough for me to be skeptical, to be selective, to feel assured that I am getting my information from the right sources. I have to control the flow of it through my brain, create it, reshape it, transform it into something useful or else ignore it. If I just expose myself to what I feel are the best channels and let it go right through me, well, I think the phrasing there probably takes care of everything.

So as soon as I finish previewing this three times, please accept it as a gift of some sort, like an early Christmas present that hasn't been wrapped properly, or just for what it is and what many of these entries are: an attempt to get better at this kind of thing.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you didn't delete. I look forward to every LC as refreshment. No quirks worthy of apology or explanation. That said, your self-analyses and critiques are just plain fun to read (kind of a head dance for me). BD

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  2. Lemme just say this: tighty Strunk-and-Whities. Oh my, yes.

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    Replies
    1. I think this should replace grammar nazi. Side note: spellcheck doesn't recognize Nazi unless it's capitalized.

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