Thursday, July 31, 2008

Addendum to Jess's Post

I've been wondering something about this here blog--and blogging in general--as well. It doesn't have to do with relationships, but in terms of who you are in real life ("IRL" for the cool kids) versus who you are on the blog, and how virtual expression lends itself to and invades real-world interactions, I think it's relevant.

What do you do when you want to stop blogging? Or, at least, want to stop your current blog for a while before maybe starting a new one?

I have no intention of quitting J&J anytime soon, of course, but let's be real--few things in life are permanent, and I doubt this blog is one of them. Sooner or later (okay, probably later), this blog is going to end, and I am going to have some questions. I'll speak hypothetically of me leaving this blog, but keep in mind it's just for the sake of argument.

When it's time to stop, do I leave up the posts I've written here or do I delete them, one by one, methodically destroying my primary means of expression for who-knows-how-many months and years? I mean, the only reason I could think to stop writing for a personal blog is because I felt I have shared too much, that the world knows too much, that my thoughts and feelings are no longer my own but rather everybody's--private intangibles in the public domain. So it would make sense then to delete my online presence here. When you move to a new apartment, you generally don't leave all your old stuff behind, and not just because that would be a gigantic waste of money and nice things but also because, well, they're yours, and you don't want to leave them lying around for someone else's use. So if I packed up and moved onto another blog, or just stopped blogging altogether, why wouldn't I delete my posts here? They're my thoughts, after all, and if I'm no longer going to be controlling their output and expression, then I should at least have the right to take them with me, back to my head or whatever new platform I'm visiting.

But that seems wrong, no? Like, are these posts mine? They're here, now, for anyone to read. Deleting them just because I won't be producing new ones seems kind of cheap and definitely shady. And I don't know that I control my thoughts' output online; sure, I dictate what I post and when I post it, but after I hit "Publish Post," well, the cat's out of the bag. My posts are there to be linked to, dissected, praised and insulted, like art that never found a true gallery. And I do not believe in destroying art. But even just moving my old writing from here to my hard drive still seems like a complete rebuttal of the reason I started blogging in the first place, which was to share stuff with other people. And even if I decide that enough is enough and I no longer want to share, well, can I take back the things I've said? Does it work that way? If a post gets linked to by someone in cyberspace, does it still belong to me? Or did it just come from me, a gift I have bestowed upon whatever readership has found my words.

It's not a matter of agency, it's a matter of ownership. And in the cached world of the Internet, even if you want to take something back, it might just be too late. Do we own anything at all out here?

-Josh

1 comment:

`nk said...

I've been thinking about this a lot, too.

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to the creative process. While creating art allows you to further understand yourself and reach out to others at the same time, it also boils down your raw emotions to a tangible piece of work, a frightening, concentrated piece for anyone to do with whatever they wish.  I always say that with each artwork you create, you package some special thing you once felt so strongly, lock it up, and throw away the key.  You can never feel that distinct thing again, but hopefully, others can by viewing/reading your work. People have disagreed with me on this, and i guess the creative process is different for everyone, but this is how i feel about it.

Just to give an example, i made a film about something that happened to me in real life, and even in the development stage of production, i felt myself growing emotionally detached from the subject matter and becoming objective, and necessarily so.  As much as i wanted to make that film, i didn't want to lose the painful but precious feelings that came with that life event.  But i still went through with it, and i did lose the feelings.  I may still have the memories, but i'll never feel those specific feelings again.  In fact, i don't like watching that film because it means so little to me now.  It makes me feel empty inside, like i sacrificed an important secret of mine just to make a film. I didn't publicize or distribute this film in any way--i only showed it to a select few--and i still feel like i can never take it back. The sacrifice is worth the price when your work turns out to be a masterpiece that does change lives, but until that happens--if it ever does--i guess we all just have to cope with the losses.


`nk