Out of It... Into Where?
I don't know, let's see what happens!
To whoever is reading: A surprised hello! Surprised because, while I am delighted to be writing to you from this platform, it isn’t something I’ve ever expected to do, let alone by invitation. I’m a writer of short stories, novels and essays that I would characterize as having a blunt but morally ambiguous (read: realistic) point of view, with emphasis on the strange and granular emotional nature of human experience.
Perhaps because of what I’m calling this “granular” point of view, I’ve been social media-hesitant ever since social media came into being. I remember once saying that posting on Facebook was like inviting the world into your living room and why would you want to do that, especially if you couldn’t see them sitting there or even hear their voices? Part of my granular experience is in reading people physically, and it disquiets me to communicate with people in a circumscribed system of mass postings when I can’t see who they are or hear them. Pictures don’t convey anything like physical presence or even voice; I love talking on the phone because voice plus beats of silence conveys personality almost like touch—the same is true of handwriting, if to a lesser degree. (I loved that Vladimir Nabokov, in a letter to his wife, referred to her handwriting as “that running shadow of your voice.” I know what he meant!) These things—sight, sound, touch, eye contact—are a big part of what makes intimate contact intimate. What disturbed me about Facebook and other similar types of social media was that they abstractly mimicked intimate contact while being completely about public persona. I realize that my concepts of these platforms are dated which is why this blog is titled Out of It. I am out of it! But being out of it isn’t always a bad thing, depending on what “it” is.
I don’t think this is a platform that mimics intimate friendship in the way that other media seem to; I’m looking at it as a means to explore thoughts and ideas in a way that I would not in a more traditional magazine essay form. I plan to post at least two times a week, starting with an essay about what I look for and love in fiction, particularly that increasingly rare breed of fiction that reverences, in sometimes irreverent ways, the deep mystery of our abused and possibly doomed world, a world full of things we don’t understand, most especially ourselves. At least one critic has described me a bard of loneliness and so for a minute I’ll accept the title and spend time on that subject. I have thoughts too about political writing in fiction.
I also plan to post on subjects that are vexing everybody, topics that usually show up in the form of articles or essays generated as if from a public consternation machine. I’d like to talk about the incel phenomenon (the self-selected name for a class of imminently out-of-it, lonely men who can’t find partners or even sex) and the way society has reacted to them; I’d like to talk about despair among young people and how it’s shown up in my writing classes; I’d like to touch on the never-ending obsession with violence which feels connected to an equal obsession with niceness. I want to talk about stories and books, and have conversations with authors and other people; specifically I aim to talk to Lillian Fishman (author of the debut novel Acts of Service) and Naama Kates, creator of The Incel Podcast. I want to talk about ridiculous things; I want to make ridiculous connections you aren’t normally going to be making in public. I’d like to get out of it with you! Starting with this:
Because every time I see this, no matter how awful my mood, it delights me. I want to delight you too!