Happily, two other things have happened in the last couple of days that have begun to turn my mood around a bit, diminishing the stress somewhat and making it all seem, if not exactly bearable, at least worthwhile. One was meeting up with a colleague last night for some food and wine and a general unloading of aggravation over the course that this semester has taken. And the other was meeting Aunt B.
She’s in L.A. this week on business, and generously drove out here to meet up with me (among other folks, of course). And we had a fabulous chat over dinner, as she’s already mentioned. I’ve been reading and corresponding with her for a while now, and so I expected her to be great, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how amazing I’d find her, how wide-ranging her interests are, how much she cares about intellectual communication, and how generally fabulous I’d find her to be. We spent a significant percentage of the time talking about blogging, a topic which is of course taking up an increasing share of my brainspace, and as we were going our separate ways after dinner, we both mentioned how astonishing the experience of in-person meetings with bloggers you like can be. While all bloggers construct personas in their writing, personas that are never equivalent to the person of the writer, by and large bloggers with awesome personas have turned out to be awesome in person as well. Back before I met George, what now seems like a million years ago, I was terrified of what in-person meetings with folks I knew from life online would be like. And with good reason: at least a couple of the charming folks that I knew from my heavier listserv days turned out to be, shall we say, rather unpleasant in real life. The email format somehow produced a radical dislocation of personality, or perhaps it simply allowed for the masking of personality.
But bloggers — generally speaking, bloggers seem to be good folks, but beyond that, blogging’s mode of discourse, its reliance on a kind of ongoing development of a narrative of self, seems to allow, if not require, some aspects of an actual personality to come through. The blog is of course always a performance of self, and never that self in any direct sense. But the performance in this form gives me the impression, after having met a number of folks in person whom I knew first from the blogosphere (n=something greater than 10), that the blog permits, where it is desired, some glimpses into an “authentic” identity, which other modes of online discourse have often managed to mask.
In sum: Aunt B. = awesome. And blogs = completely obsessing me, right now.