The Thing It’s About

Why am I actually thinking about my high school days?

I grew up in the era when music videos virally took over popular music. Most of them were awful. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” sent me hiding under my bed… the werewolf, not the zombies. I’m not too proud to admit that.

Jackson Wolf

This (link included for the Livejournal readers, for whom the Youtube video may not show up) was one of the few music videos that gave me a song I actually liked, though then and now I think it’s about 20-30 bpm too fast.

The Northern Pikes were just a small Canadian rock band. Small, but ours, and I guess I liked them okay in middle school, regardless of whatever perhaps-true quips anyone might make about them benefitting from Canadian content laws. (I don’t think it’s at all bad that local arts get support from it, as long as one is free to consume foreign stuff as one likes.) They played my ex-wife’s “grad party” (what Americans call their “prom”), which actually surprised and impressed me. My grad party’s band was just a quartet of middle aged garage rockers, though my buddy Mike took over DJ duties at the club we ended up at afterwards.


I can’t remember the name of the club at all. Which is weird, it was famous back then. I took my highschool girlfriend. Mike played some KLF songs. We danced to them. The world spun and spun. We danced and danced all night, and I took her home in the morning, sweaty and tired and happy. I didn’t know we’d be broken up only a few months later, and I’d be in University, hauling my tenor sax to school and practicing.

Mike was in one of my first-year electives, a religious studies class. That was something that kept continuity from high school.

My buddy John, too — who I don’t talk to anymore, who I think is still somewhere in Korea — was always around, meeting us for lunch. We were so shocked being surrounded by adults. John and I were impressed to be surrounded by women, not girls, though it didn’t really occur to us right away that we looked like boys, not men, to them.

Colege boy and women

It’s strange to look back on all that. My hopes have gone astray lots of times since then, but I know it’s a good thing, that we often hope for things we don’t really want long-term. Your hopes going astray is good, and if you could just take a thread and bind the person you are now to the person you were then, all the intervening disappointments would be something in which you could have rejoiced.

And what brought me to this? Oh, just the story I’m thinking my way through, or, rather, feeling my way into, “Now What, Deprived of All Reprieve, is to Be Done by the Likes of Us?” It’s really about someone whose present is a moment when all his dark and baleful hopes for the world go astray. And in searching for hope for him, I’m paradoxically in the position of searching for hopelessness. Which I don’t want to reaffirm. It’s very weird. I’m not plotting, just sort of soaking in the feeling that is coursing through my protagonist at the crucial moment in the story. I know what comes before, but I’m not sure about after. Then again, that’s the fundamental thing you face when writing SF: it’s all about what comes after. But it’s really all about what it feels like when what comes after comes, too, at the same time, and that, at least, is sometimes mappable territory.

Ancient gold mine map

Recently, someone online actually stupidly implied that I’m selfish because of how I blog, mostly personal things. (He accused me of “selfism,” in the same comment that he upbraided me for using a nonsense word like “othering,” if you can believe that.) It was in the comments section of his blog, where I’d been bashing him for, well, silly ideas and claims.

Anyway, I have been thinking about it, and the fundamental thing is, what’s wrong with celebrating oneself a little? Whitman elevated it to an artform, so it can be done. I haven’t, not yet and not here, but what’s with this dour, fanatical opposition to a embracing love of the self, a celebration of the mysteries of one’s own youth, growth, learning, and daily life? Will it win me millions of readers? No, but then again, anything I wish millions of people to read, I wouldn’t publish in a blog, anyway… I’d much sooner wrap it in fiction, or at least try to get it published in a big magazine. Blogs are terrible places to get millions of people to read one’s ideas consistently, especially now that the niche is full. And anyway, this blog was never created for that purpose. Still, it occurs to me that many of my small, less-than-profound experiences encompass or touch upon mysteries that are as universal and enduring than any cathechism, let alone any political system. It’s therefore absurd to criticize someone for writing about one’s own experiences.

Abandoned Bike

When all the churches are long crumbled into ruins, all the governments we know blown off as dust in the wind and forgotten to the memories of humanity, some of these very same mysteries shall repeat, echo, as they are echoing within me across aeons.


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with realizing, looking at, celebrating that. It’s important and profound to realize that, and that’s what this blog has made me reflect on. Anyone who decries blogging about oneself is missing the point of what makes blogs so interesting… one imagines such a person unable to read fiction, memoirs, autobiographies, or anything at all that isn’t a diatribe according with his own thinking.

It’s the opposite of imagination. It’s a kind of self-righteous deathliness.

I’d rather live.

wake-up bell

9 thoughts on “The Thing It’s About

  1. In my opinion, a person should be able to write about whatever they want on their blog. It’s yours to own. I prefer personal blogs, because I like learning about people and how they think. Blogging taught me that I’m not a weirdo, that a lot of people do think about the same kind of things I do. I have also made most of my friends through their blogs, because I’d rather spend time with someone who thinks than someone who doesn’t.
    I’m a couple of years younger than you and I was profoundly affected by Thriller. It scared me, but I loved it. I wanted to be a makeup artist like Rick Baker, and spent years doing scary make up on my face before I got allergic and abandoned the dream.

  2. It’s your blog, write about what you want, and if someone criticizes you for its content, tell them they don’t have to read it. Sheesh.

    (Susan Senator has been getting that kind of crap at times from people who read her book, and just want more of the same, and how DARE she write about bellydancing? Sheesh!)

  3. I should be fair and note that I was berating my critic for the content of some of his posts. But aside from advising him not to psychologize atheists as being all the same, I was really disputing the kinds of anti-atheist rhetoric he was posting and linking to, which is a little different from criticizing him on the theme of his blog.

  4. I have to agree, it’s silly to berate anyone over what content they choose to put on their blogs. But it’s funny, I was brushing up on the same thing earlier today – basically wondering what made me start blogging (curiosity, I think) and what still makes me continue it (some kind of egoistical illusion that someone somewhere actually finds it interesting? Or, possibly, just keeping in touch with people I’m too lazy to email).

    That song actually wasn’t half bad. I was also a die-hard Michael Jackson fan on third grade. :D *deftly dodging the opening for pedo-jokes*

  5. Did your friend mean “solipsistic”? I thought the whole point of blogs was the online diary aspect of it.

    I think bloggers – whether or not they blog from the left, center, or right – can be better at delivering op-ed content.

    I can remember reading Winnipeg Free Press columnists writing American Beauty and P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores that were written months, or in O’Rourke’s case years after the topics were relevant.

    Good pro-am blogs rarely have stale content, and can do a better job of focusing on local issues. I’ll give a quick plug for (for an Winnipeggers reading this) and (for any DC readers) now.

    Blogs are really good at delivering niche content, which is one of the reasons why I’d rather blog than write for newspapers or magazines now. I can blog about the writers I like without having to worry about the editor assigning a book to a writer who doesn’t know as much about an author as I do.

    As for that objective, neutral, up close reporting I assume the person you are butting heads with admires, well, that’s why I pick up The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly or Vanity Fair. Right now they have the resources that bloggers don’t, and can do that particular job much better.

  6. Mark,

    Well, I was commenting on eviscerating an article he linked to that claimed atheists are more unhappy and angrier on the whole than religious people. Among the claims of the article he linked to was a suggestion that those who don’t worship a deity worship themselves in the deity’s place. (Which is moronic, really… most of the atheists I know, in place of a awe before a god or gods, have a straightforward awe of the universe, and optimism about humanity’s capacity improve its behaviour and/or its lot in the universe.) From this ostensible self-worship, the article claimed, came New Age religion, pop-psychology, and forms of Christian belief that the author disliked. (ie. All bad things come from self-ism.)

    So I think the charge was less one of solipsism than of narcissism. And I agree, the personal or diary-like nature of blogs is a lot of the point,r really. If I want news, I’d read the news.

    While, in retrospect, I think it was mostly a self-defensive snipe in the middle of a dispute, the fact that someone could call another a “self-ist” because of the way he or she blogs reveals a lot about a person. As if my somehow I’ve tied to the whole silly root of New Age and other silly though systems by virtue of my blogging about my life, and saving the truly interesting topics for my fiction writing.

    So it’s not so much he thinks I should be news-blogging, it’s more that he seems to think my focusing the blog on my personal life is narcissistic and a good example of what makes atheists so unhappy and angry. But I have to say I think that it’s a disturbing sort of assumption to make. It feels like some wannabe Communist Party member saying, “See, you think too much of yourself and give nothing to the Party!” when you sit down and bit into a piece of bread. It’s not like I’m hurt, I’m more just disturbed by how distorted a person’s thinking can actually become when they invest themselves fully into believing something.

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