Sunday, June 18, 2000

I started getting a bit fluish last night (it has since gotten worse), which caused me to have bizarre dreams about the following:

Earlier in the evening, I had seen the film Edge Of Seventeen, which tells the story of Eric, a teenager dealing with the process of realising he is gay and consequently coming out during the eighties. It's a flawed film, and very much a period piece as well, but quite enjoyable nonetheless. One of the problems I had with it though was that I found Eric's rather dramatic swings between being "normal" and being very camp to be unrealistic. Later in conversation with my friends though I realised that this was simply because the character's experience of coming out was so radically different to mine: while he pretty much changed his entire personality numerous times in less than a year, my process has been one of smooth transition that's gone on for about five years, in which time I don't believe my fundamental or superficial nature has changed significantly (though who am I to judge?).

I guess because of the subject matter of the film, I was more prepared to unconsciously personalise and internalise its story, to pretend that the people on screen were real people who I perhaps knew, which I would never do with a conventional heterosexual romance film. Thus, when aspects of the film contradicted my own experiences, I reacted negatively towards them. Following this conversation though, I began to wonder: whose experiences were more "real"? Mine, or those portrayed in the film? Certainly everyone I went with seemed to relate to the main character more than I did.

This was all playing on my mind when I followed Mike's link to Planet Soma and checked out siteowner David's journals, starting from 1979 and getting as far as 1986 before finally retiring to bed. I found myself appalled and yet fascinated by the wealth of brutally personal information that was being shared here - David didn't shy away from being graphic about his emotions or his nefarious activities. However what elevated this above titillating, voyeuristic diversion was the fact that while David's journal is in present tense, the distance from the actual events allows the reader (and present-day David) to pick out plots, themes and story arcs that at the time of writing David couldn't see, and yet without all the cloying revisionism and attempts to contextualise that would clutter a biography. Despite the fact that David seemed to go through as many personal transformations as Eric did, there was an overall sense of direction, if not to his life, then to him as a character, a recognisable human - the Broadway production of his story was unfolding in spite of his best efforts.

And so, despite the fact that both the fictional Eric and the decidedly non-fictional David seemed to have a much worse time of it than I have had, I began to grow depressed. Where is my story arc? Would the Hallmark telemovie of my life have any interesting lessons to impart? An inspiring speech to close with? No. Or, at least not as far as I'm aware. I know that there are things I crave to fill up my life, but I only just realised that those things we all crave are probably things which will allow us to tell our story back to ourselves: love, family, material gain, a successful career, popularity and respect, commitment to causes, education... As if everyone's life is a rags to riches tale in which we define the currency.

These kinds of thoughts are dangerous, as I begin to judge myself rather harshly. I want a meaningful relationship, as do many of my friends, but maybe the reason why I have a sudden aversion to any real prospects is that I know that I really only want one because I feel it would make me a better person. Should I put people through hell/utter boredom just so I can jump a couple of points in my own estimation? And it's not just relationships. This blog, like so many blogs out there, is not merely the sum of its parts - links and reviews and witty observations - because it is also my attempt to provide some sort of narrative to life. The fact that so much of it is about musical discovery does not exclude it from being self-discovery. But I can't escape the fact that my life feels less like a Broadway musical and more like the Samuel Beckett play I'll be writing about tomorrow: nothing but endless routines spiked with shards of fragmented meaning, but with no coherent overall sense of purpose to take comfort in. So maybe that's why we blog. The shards are all we have.

And I know y'all hate these personal posts, but if I can't say it here, where can I say it?


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