Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is it a matter of integrity or something else entirely?

(Two views; same place; more details; greater insight.)

There are a few bloggers who consistently throw out thoughts that become airborne for us to breathe in and out over the next minutes or hours or days. I often find I must respond to them if only internally. I must decide what I think about certain topics I may have never considered or I might even determine they will alter some of my life choices. Sometimes they send me searching, reading, ruminating, talking to other people. Don't you just love it when that happens?

Tara at Paris Parfait often does that. Her perspective on the world is very enlightening as opposed to much of the canned and sanitized news we receive from American media, so I cock my head and go hmmmmmmm. She is very well read and credits quotes from authors I have not encountered, sending me to Amazon.com lickety split.

A couple of days ago, her entry entitled "Reflections" included a quote she shared from Madeleine L'Engle's book (I already love Madeleine L'Engle; she's not a new introduction) Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life.

"As a writer, I try to make what I am not too far from what I say. What I say is far more than I am. My work knows far more than I know, but I try to make my own life not incompatible with what the work knows and what the work says."

Tara also referenced Susannah Conway's Unravelling e-course, subtitled "Ways of Seeing Myself." (Don't you find those words - reflection, unravel, seeing myself - itchy intriguing?)

Something I've contemplated on other occasions floated to the surface to intersect Tara's thoughts. The act of blogging is an alluring opportunity to reveal and examine (unravel) parts of myself before unseen faces, mostly people I don't know, who can send me comment or conjecture. One danger of that course might be that the examination may become stilted or contrived or edited in order to impress my audience, my partners in examination. In one hand the act of sharing deep revelations in my blog holds possibility of intimacy. In the other hand, the act of blogging holds the possibility of artificially securing validation by shaping others' opinions, withholding the less-appealing characteristics of my nature or my life in general and presenting only the more attractive commentary.

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that blogging is a hybrid of both. Complete intimacy can only be achieved over the long haul as I unfold myself to someone else who sees me clearly, not as a reflection in my created gazing ball. But, moments of intimacy, moments of revelation that are answered by revelations from strangers, can be very surprising, delightful and edifying. I think it may be fine, just fine, to submit some half truths. Here's an example:

I love to watch cooking shows and competitions on television. I also love cookbooks. I love to read them and plan with them. And I could leave it at that. You might surmise from what I say and the pictures above of a corner of my kitchen (because I can't figure out how to put pictures WITHIN the text) that I am a great cook - witness the collection of cookbooks. And there are more in other bookcases in my home - truly. But, what I am not doing is panning to the right, to the counter, where a Sonic sack sits that just held the salad I picked up on the way home from work. When I cook, I am a very good cook. It just happens relatively rarely these days, although I always think I will rededicate myself to doing more. Silly example, but it represents many others, potential takeaways from small snippets.

How honest do you think we should be in our blogs? Is "should" implied? Or is there a big King's X over this place we play? My motive for writing is certainly not the same as another blogger's motivation. Is it okay that we reflect what makes us feel good about ourselves or should we only discuss what we can fully, honestly reveal? Is this medium completely different from others where there are established rules? Should we differentiate between autobiography and memoir?


Dutchbaby said...

I shared the same thoughts when I started blogging. I think every blogger has to decide for themselves what the proper amount of intimacy is. On the one hand it is a grand opportunity to present the best side of yourself. Why not? Even deciding what is the best side of yourself is valuable. On the other hand, one has to consider truth in advertising. I am under a strict gag order from my kids so I write with one hand tied behind my back.

I used to work on a cruise ship where I taught computer skills to the passengers. My boss told me that first and foremost I was an entertainer. I decided to approach blogging in a similar fashion since I can't make it an intimate blog. Naturally it can be disputed whether my blog is entertaining, especially with today's post, but it is my aim. It is my brand of entertainment, in all its geeky glory.

Would we have read J. D. Salinger's novels if he revealed his true personality in his books? Maybe that's why he never allowed his later writings to be published.

Tammy Brierly said...

You didn't tell me you're blogging again. WooHoo!

I'm caught up now and Eli is a DOLL!

Blogging is an extension of each personality. I'm very open in my life and here. Not to mention I'm isolated and on a unique journey that helps others. It's my social life, autobiography,hobby and memoir.


Rebekah said...

Dutchbaby and Tammy: Hello, you two! Thank you both for your thoughts, which are always so smart. I wish I could sit and have coffee with my new friend and my old friend - Tammy, I think we may be in that category of old friends, and I LOVE that. I think you would enjoy each other, too. I really like the unfolding of friendship this way. There are new discoveries every day of personality, character and history. I'm glad I'm back!! (We all have a mutual friend in Tara!)

Pauline said...

Found your comment on my own blog and thought I'd pop over to see what you were writing about. So you're a grandmother too (I read the above post) and a blogger seeking to share, sort things out, stretch your thinking, create, commemorate. I write just to hear myself think. I read to stretch my thinking - blogging satisfies both yens. Pleased to meet you!