Monday, July 10, 2006

Sometimes reading other people’s journals is like watching Jerry Springer – it makes you really fucking glad you’re not that person. I was at a delightful party Saturday night with lots of my pals, and we were talking about a certain person (who shall remain nameless) whose journal I go read now and then. It was a bit surprising to find three other people who knew who I was talking about, but I suppose blogland is a small world, and the blogger has some slight claims to local fame.

Our verdict: the blogger in question is a train-wreck. I mean, seriously, but seriously whacko. I have several good friends who cheerfully identify themselves as crazy, and I’ve done a few rounds of “Hey, sweetie, I really think you need your meds adjusted. If you come in off that ledge you’re crouched on, I’ll drive you to the doctor, and I’ll buy you an ice cream cone afterwards. It’ll be okay, I promise.” So while I have no personal experience living in a head that doesn’t operate like other people’s, I know crazy when I see it. This woman is crazy.

And not well-managed in her craziness, either - that was one of the things that struck me. My closest friend Miss K, for example, has a life-long history with diagnoses and therapists and anti-depressant-this and mood-stabilizing-that, and she’s definitely learned to manage her unquiet mind and the effect it has on her life. There have been ups and downs in the thirteen years I've known her, but overall she’s become my yardstick for how well people handle their insanity. She always says, “Being crazy is a reason, not an excuse. You still have to take responsibility for yourself.”

So I read this blogger’s stuff, and I’m always torn between pity for her sheer animal pain, and eye-rolling what-the-hell-did-you-think-was-going-to-happen? disgust. We are handed a certain amount of unavoidable suffering in this life, but there is a whole lot more that actually can be avoided with even the most elementary of precautions, and when I see someone flinging themselves into a wood-chipper over and over again, it’s hard to view them as totally helpless victims of circumstance. One can only infer that she’s getting some kind of thrill out of her constant flirtations with physical, medical, financial and emotional disaster. God knows there seem to be any amount of people who will coo and say poor baby, poor baby, so maybe that’s it.

But good lord, do you have to heave it all up onto the web? We all have dark nights of the soul – I’ve certainly had mine. However, publishing the rawest, ugliest moments of one’s inner life to the world is a form of exhibitionism that’s incomprehensible to me. It’s not that there cannot be beauty in written descriptions of emotional pain. But all too many people fall into the pit of thinking that all written descriptions of emotional pain are, by default, beautiful.

There’s a story that BDSM author Laura Antoniou used to keep a shelf of the Chronicles of Gor novels above her writing desk, and that one interviewer claimed that her novels had been “inspired” by them. Ms. Antoniou clarified: the Gor novels were there to serve as a bad example, to remind her of the kind of books she didn’t want to write. One meets people in life like that: you look at them and think, “Wow, I really don’t want my life to look like hers.” And so you make that dental appointment you’ve been putting off, get the oil in car changed, and deposit that cash into your IRA. Then you spend time with the people who love you.

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