I was talking to Stew, a blogger (Blood & Grits) I have a great deal of respect for. Not only as a writer I admire and envy, but as a man who can simplify complicated things. Be they, cooking pig trotters or giving insight into life or finding really cheap hooch. In short, I think Stew is a poet. A couple days ago Stew asked,
“Why the fuck is every blogger compelled to take photos of his submariner and post them right along with the pictures of “the serene bedroom” with bedside tables littered with stained espresso cups or teacups with PG Tips bags hanging like limp dicks from their lips?”
I told you he was a poet. I tell Stew about a blogger who showed me a Vietnam era Zippo he bought off eBay. I noticed the unit insignia on the lighter was from a division that had been disbanded in the 1950’s. Stew said,
“Shit happens if you have no knowledge of the artifact you pursue. Knowing the artifact and simply acquiring it are mutually fucking exclusive. But today, to have is to know. A simple blog post stakes authenticity or at least makes a claim of being “in the know.” Most of the time, as you say here, it shows one actually knows little of what one claims. Fucking Internet.”
That’s it. You can stop reading now because all I’m going to do is repeat what Stew said, but I’ll use a lot more words and be far more confusing. It’s so good I stole it. I would add that curiosity is key to a well lived life. Buying a picture for the sake of hanging it on a wall is like having a one night stand with a stranger. Sure, it’s pleasurable, but not for very long.
I was interested in European advertising posters about 12 years ago. I was living in Chicago and there was a dealer across the street from the Art Institute. I looked at posters but bought four books on poster history. The dealer rang the books up and said, “It’s nice to see someone who’s really interested and willing to research before buying.” I though he was busting my ass for not buying a poster, but he added, “Most folks just want something to hang over the sofa. They could care less about where it came from, who designed it, the significance of it…”
A funny thing happens when you accumulate a lotta shit you don’t know anything about or have any connection to. It quickly moves from “The Get” to “The Get Rid Of.” For bloggers it becomes a prop for electronic Show & Tell. Sadly, while authenticity is touted it’s usually sacrificed. If you don’t know what it means or stands for — how the hell can you appreciate it?
I would add that the experience of the purchase — that is, “I stayed up ‘til two in the morning bidding on eBay for this” is not the experience I’m talking about. However, learning what it is, researching the background and history, wondering who owned it before you, or even better, knowing who owned it…These simple things make the connection.
I’m trying hard not to get too curmudgeonly about this, but I guess the question is this. Are you curious? In the end, curiosity didn’t kill the cat but kept me alive while being in a world I didn’t think much of. No matter how bad things got, I always wondered, “What’s gonna happen next?”
How to work like a writer
1. Ignore deadlines.
2. Take criticism badly.
3. Burn bridges.
4. Hate yourself.
5. Trust no one (especially not yourself).
6. Sabotage all of your personal relationships.
7. Drink heavily.
Im doing at least 3 or 4 of these very well. Yay. I guess I’m a writer.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.