Monday, April 9, 2018

who do you know, even when they’re right in front of ya?

The last few weeks haven't been the best for me but I just reinvent myself each day as someone doing better. I go through the motions of work. I put up with the worst of my students, enjoy the best of them. I watch television, I watch movies--and write about them here--and I play D&D when I can. I was already in a bad mood Saturday when I got to watching I don't feel at home in this world anymore. Hours later I watched Jim & Andy...

Full title for that last one: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond: Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton because the premise of the film is far bigger than just Jim & Andy, just Jim and Andy, Just Jim and Andy and Tony. The premise of the documentary is Jim Carrey getting so much into character as Andy Kaufman and as Tony Clifton while filming Man on the Moon that he sort of lost himself... Or found himself, I guess is the point. And, after a tough time lately in terms of my mental health, it was an interesting way to end the night Saturday, my fifth movie since that afternoon, and it's rare that I get to watch that many movies in a row.

I manage to fit in a lot of movies, obviously. But, there are always other things to do, errands and chores to fill in the time. And, I've gotten good at managing them all just enough to keep going. Just enough that I've got the energy to do silly things like yesterday's blog... And, yes, that took some doing. The code for it is simple--for those who don't know, I regularly write this blog with the html code already in it. I think blogger has an editor for links and images and whatnot, but I have always just coded it all myself. The code is simple enough. But, I started yesterday's entry thinking it was going to be long and elaborate. I had my master's thesis open--

It's called Blogging to Make Sense of the World: An Autoethnographic Approach to Sensemaking and the Presentation--and Manipulation--of Self Online.

(The day I turned in the completed draft was Day 1000 of this blog, and was two years ago later this month. For those trying to follow along, I ended the blog that day only to pick it up a year later as if I had never stopped, even picked up with the very same film--High Fidelity--like I hadn't missed a beat.)

And, it is all about how we create ourselves online. I used this blog as my primary case study, though I looked at a couple others and other research about blogging, and about the Internet, and about self, about identity. Themes that also found their way into this blog prior to that thousandth day. Themes that mean a lot to me. Because, as I've explained a few times (notably in talking about Rambo), I grew up thinking I wouldn't really have a future. I've always had trouble looking too far ahead, at least in any realistic manner. I imagine the future, I fantasize, I dream, but to plan is difficult. And, when I do plan, and plans go awry, it hurts. Doesn't matter how big the plans, or how small.

And, there was just this moment--I'm watching Jim & Andy again, sitting in a Starbucks in Beverly Hills--in which Jim, as Andy, explains something very personal about Jim. He says,

I think that Andy had trouble early on, which is very hard. Jim had trouble later on... And it kind of threw him for a loop, and he got angry, and he used that to express himself. In many ways, there was a lot of anger in everything he did... But he's afraid that if he gets healthy, he won't have creativity, sometimes... And I think sometimes he makes a conscious decision not to be completely together.

I've not always been the best at dealing with my problems, but I've long recognized them. Most of the time, I deal with them, and with everything going on in my life, fairly well. But, anyway...

--I had my thesis open and I was going to open with a a line from Auerbach (2005) about the short life that a particular blog entry has. In my own terms, they are each so fleeting, ephemeral, liminal. I can always throw in an href tag to some old blog entry, and maybe you reading this will even click on those things, but mostly, this entry is this entry and in a few days it won't matter anymore. Day 100, I cited a piece by Ken Sanes regarding Groundhog Day--I was still watching that movie every day, not just once a month--and Phil's choice of ice sculpting. Sanes called it "the perfect art form" for Phil "since everything he does will have melted away when he wakes up anyway." I imagine a world in which I not only write these things that will be forgotten, but I also delete them after a few days. There are entries--from that first year, especially--that get regular views, but there are so many that might as well be gone because that is the nature of the Internet. Everything is there forever, and everything is lost almost immediately unless you're famous and your tweet, or whatever, makes headlines.

Which makes it entirely too easy to be whoever you want to be online. (And also entirely impossible because the evidence is always searchable.)

But, online is not real life just yet. You can't just be whoever you want to be out there in the real world. For me, that means ups and downs, periods where I am tired of interacting with real people and just want to be by myself--and remember, I have kids, I am a teacher, so there are always people around--and periods where I need people, need interaction, am dying for time spent with other people.

Saturday night, last night, right now, I'm watching Jim & Andy and it fascinate me, mesmerizes me, because I can imagine stepping outside myself to be someone else for a time, letting some invented self take over, and the idea appeals to me.

Yesterday, I wanted to write a complicated, serious essay about self, about becoming someone new, becoming constantly someone new, always someone new. Instead, I wrote nothing because that was who I ended up being when I sat down to write. The apartment was noisy, I was tired, I wasn't looking forward to this week at work, and I figured I'd be clever rather than be smart... Or something like that.

But, it's all just ice sculptures anyway. Melting after a few of you read it, and studies show you aren't reading all of it, most of you. You read a little, you lose interest, you wander off to another corner of the Internet to do something else.

If you made it this far today, have fun in that other corner. I'll be back tomorrow. Movie isn't quite over, and I didn't even really say much about the movie itself. But, for today, I'm done.

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