Sometime ago, my sons, one at a time and in different conversations, told me the thing their generation prizes the most is being “real.” However neither of them could explain to me what that meant, precisely.
I think to an extent I know. Take this blog for instance (okay, don’t take it, how would I wake up without writing 2k words every morning? BUT feel free to encourage my misdeeds by throwing a few virtual coins at that link on the right.)
I started it at the behest of fourth agent. You see, I didn’t have the money to self-finance book tours. I hadn’t gone to college with anyone useful. I had neither the money, the time nor the emotional resources to do the job publishers no longer did (in fact, my publishers were more or less aggressively anti-doing-it; i.e. not only not publicizing the books but through slipped publication dates, lousy covers, and just general weirdness making it hard for even devoted fans to find my books. Even if I knew — not often — the books were out and told them so.) So she advised a low cost — and low return — alternative: this blog.
The problem is of course for a blog to become popular is an uphill battle. It started with the fact that I was attempting this when everyone said the age of the blog was past. If I’d had a time machine I’d have started the blog in 1998, of course. But as usual I find myself without these necessary accouterments. It continued with a friend’s insistence that if the blog was ever going to make it, I needed to blog every day.
The only “model” for blogging every day I could find was using it instead of “pages in the morning.” I have a friend who swears by this. He rolls out of bed, sans coffee, and writes however many pages he can, long hand. These are not meant to ever be seen by anyone, and you can them whatever.
I tried this for a brief time in the nineties, when I was more blocked than a constipated armadillo and I found out that my subconscious is either a whiny 8 year old — and I don’t care if no one else will ever see it, I don’t want to listen to it. I’ve raised the boys. I’m not willing to endure my own inner brat — or a machine for generating stories. After a while the “pages in the morning” book filled with ideas, plots, brief character sketches. And then I gave up and just wrote.
But if I were going to do a blog, I could do it on the principle of “pages in the morning.” I.e. take whatever is biting me early in the day and splay it here.
Now, needless to say — you’re not children — this is not my real me, as such. It’s impossible to put the real you on display (though my ADD is on full pinned-on glory right now, isn’t it?) on such a thing as a blog. One of the things you don’t often get is my depression or fatalism. That’s not so much an attempt to hide it from you, as to hide it from myself. I’ve found that if I talk about my fears or my sense of doom it only feeds the black dog. So often my ah…. sunny optimism is an attempt to cajole myself out of a bad spot. Oh, it’s me, too. But it’s the strategies I’ve learned to use to cope with the other side of me.
Also I don’t need to tell you everything I have to do today (heck, I’d prefer not to tell ME but nobody asked me) from laundry to some mending, to moving aside the big pile of branches so son’s moving truck can park in the driveway. (The stone moving project is temporarily in abeyance.) Or that I’m heartened that restaurants are opening, but divided as to whether I can support them, because of the mask requirement. We can talk about that at another time, but to strap onto my face a symbol of compliance with a ridiculous and useless order is akin to telling a lie because I’ve been ordered to, and I think that’s what starts the corruption of societies into totalitarianism. On the other hand, the order doesn’t come from restaurants, and they need the money. On yet the other hand, compelled speech and not letting people manage their own risk are steps on the road to hell.
Anyway, although because I write this pre-adderal and pre-coffee, you often get the full blown ADD dancing naked, you don’t need to know every stray thought that crosses my mind.
HOWEVER the “curated me” I first tried on the blog was way more effort than it was worth.
Because I couldn’t talk about any of the things that actually interested me — politics, economics, philosophical credo, or whatever I’d been reading and how it affected me — since I was deep in the political closet, I (instead) had to talk only of writing, my stories, my pets or those experiences I knew to be “acceptable” to the establishment.
Now, those are also me, but it’s almost impossible to do in an hour or so in the morning. I had to think about it, shape it, etc. and sometimes just couldn’t think of anything to say (this will be the general content of my writer’s page, but I only INTEND to do that once a week or so, as it will replicate the contents of my newsletter. Which speaking of, I need volunteers to test sometime this week.)
My blog limped along for 2 or 3 years, with fifty reader (some of you have been here since then, I know) and I often forgot to post.
I finally lost my mind (there were several circumstances) and decided to come out politically, knowing full well it would eventually cost me my career. (Even the one house that shouldn’t care, does, when you’re a woman and a minority, because the rest of the establishment makes sure they care. I.e. you’re double d*mned if you walk off the plantation the left has built for entire categories of people. It’s hard to defeat a claim that you’re both stupid and insane, and if you don’t think such a claim affects distribution… well!)
Anyway, that is when the blog started taking off. Mind you, I still don’t think it does much of anything good for my fiction sales. But by the time I had ascertained that, this blog was a community I thought of as friends and family, and in a way necessary to my mental health.
Still, the blog took off when it was “my real me” and my real interests and ideas.
So to an extent I understood what the kids meant. To another extent, the very fact they were obsessed with “being real” tells you a lot about our society.
Let me put it this way, the last age to become obsessed with being real was pre-revolutionary France.
Oh, the enlightenment had a lot of injunctions about not being hypocritical or doing “natural” things. But in France they became utterly obsessed with it.
This was at a time when manners were such a complicated and bizarre dance that you had to learn them from an early age to pass in polite society; when the public self and the private self might be completely different people; and when the public displays had got so out of hand it wasn’t odd for women to wear battle ships among their — fake — locks.
So they craved “real.”
In the same way, our young crave “real” because, though in most circles the display is not physical (except for masks) they know they don’t live in a “real” world.
Those who aren’t stupid might never admit it, but they realized in high school that the teachers who insisted you “question authority” never meant THEIR authority. They realized early on that the same adults who told them to let it all hang out were very careful to only bleat the same opinions as the herd. They realized at some level the party that claims to care for the destitute is filled with millionaires. And they know how much virtue signaling hides florid vice. So they crave “real”.
I suspect this is part of the left’s obsession with hypocrisy. They KNOW they’re hypocrites. So they need to prove other people are as well, in order to sleep at night. And they descend to considering others hypocrites in relation not to what others believe or do, but to what the left believes they SHOULD believe or do. Hence why all our leftist friends think memes with “socialist Jesus” are a gotcha, based on their imperfect understanding of scriptures and of non-leftists as well.
The obsession with being “real” and “not lying” is such that it leads to ridiculous book plots in which it is a lie if you don’t fully disclose all your thoughts and feelings to complete strangers.
This approaches the more bizarre Rousseaunian reaches of the Enlightenment in which if a woman were raped, the rapist was now considered her “natural husband” and she could take no other. It’s not a particularly healthy, or sane attitude, and can only be understood as a reaction to all the lies they are supposed to repeat while knowing they are lies.
It’s not healthy or sane, because not letting it all hang out allows humans to live together without bashing each other over the head with a big rock. When I was in the political closet — and my leftist colleagues weren’t and were vocal, but were also marginally saner than they are now — having to keep quiet about politics (it was only when that stopped being allowed and vocal endorsement required that the wheels came off) — meant that I could get to know these people as people, outside their politics. And you know, most of them are not bad people. They have the politics they have partly despite themselves, and often by not telling themselves the truth about the ultimate consequences of such things as believing all cultures are “equally valid.”
Manners, interaction and politeness are good for society. It allows to see the others as humans, no matter how much you disagree.
On the other hand, the left couldn’t let well enough alone. Partly because they know they’re double-thinking and signaling things that are either impossible or impossible for them, and then ignoring the result of what they endorse, they require — each time louder — vocal endorsement of their delusions from everyone.
The problem is that the more they require this vocal endorsement to be able to work, live or do business in the world, the more they know this is compelled speech, and thereby a “lie” and the more they crave authenticity, without realizing that you can’t both compel authenticity and demand that people agree with you.
Look, even if it were correct that socialism had never really been tried, and is the best way for humans to live, even if men and women were exactly the same outside the obvious, even if “social justice” (however the left defines it) were the highest calling of mankind, there will be humans who dissent. There are always humans who dissent. Look at the humans who believe the Earth is flat, or people who think dinosaurs orbit the Earth in a spaceship.
And the really weird thing is that we know, through history, sometimes the weirdest dissent opinions turn out to be right. (Well, not things like flat Earth. NASA assures me they checked. So did the Greeks.) Or at least turn out to be possible.
So, when you make everyone not only shut up (which is bad enough) but vocally endorse the consent, you know it’s not “real” and you feel discomfited.
That feeling that things aren’t “real” and that things aren’t “right” are alarms ringing in the back of your mind about how dangerous the situation is becoming.
Remember how pre-revolutionary France ended.
Demanding that people endorse the opinions you WANT to be real louder and louder and louder is only going to make the alarms ring louder.
As it should.
The real world is full of discord, disagreement, and there’s not such thing as “proven” social anything, except for the immutable nature of humanity. Trying to change that is not “real” but as crazy as demanding the weather obey your commands. Humans can self-control and self-moderate (though it takes training) but not fundamentally change their nature as social apes who think.
You want “real” you have to tear down “Safe spaces” and stop considering speech as aggression. Take the battle ship off your head. Dismantle all the locks you pinned on.
What’s underneath might just be a brain that can think.
My word. Misplace mine own head next. I forgot to tell you that I put out an Austen Fanfic under Alyx Silver (my nom the fanfic.) It’s called What if He Were to Pick Me?and I want to emphasize I was neither drunk nor on drugs when I wrote it. Also, it was the first fanfic I wrote, and it was a hobby, when actual publication seemed an impossible thing.
Also although I had been writing for attempted publication for YEARS, this was my first fanfic. I cleaned it up a lot, but it’s still rough around the edges. ALSO the line about unruly pillows got me kicked out a fanfic site, back in the day, for being too racy (!). Anyway, if you follow that link you can buy it (It’s 2.99) or read it with Kindle Unlimited. And hopefully you enjoy it, if nothing else as a sort of juvenalia.