Eddie Izzard - God creates dinosaurs (more notes towards a Tree of Life review)
The view from the National Gallery. Today is my last in London. Tomorrow I head back to Ankara for the next phase. (Mrs. Tragos to join me there on Monday.) The San Diegan and English times are over for now.
Last weekend, we were a lucky duo. The inestimable Byronic and her husband Mr. Byronic invited us for dinner. They are two of the funniest, most civilized, and generous hosts you will find in London (where they live), in Bologna (where Byronic is from), or Frankfurt (where Mr. Byronic is from).
Through mussels, fish, chocolates, and plenty of wine, we discussed many matters under the sun, including soccer fandom, British students of English literature, poisonous squid, British university madness, and the times in our life when we most strongly suspected we were peaking (very intriguing). And much, much else.
So: to the wonderful Byronics (and by extension, Tumblr): thank you!
And to London: see you soon you cold, dark, but somehow still enticing conurbation.
I’ve now had nearly a month off tumblr and I miss these shores so much. But it was the act of reminiscing about last weekend’s fun in the company of the amazingly tall Tragos and his gorgeous Mrs. Okimago that tempted me to breach the terms of my house arrest, and take a peek to see if they had made an appearance here before taking off from these green and pleasant lands for some time. Glad to find you here, guys.
[Relevant meandering story follows, please stick with me.]
Over the past week I collaborated on an experiment of collective film criticism regarding the immensely interesting and complex piece of work that is the film they call Catfish. I’m not linking anything here because I think anyone who wants to watch the movie should do so in complete ignorance of its plot and themes - even a bare description of the plot would signify taking sides with one or the other side of an important argument that needs to be had (and publicly) about this piece of work. [If you have seen the film, and you read Italian you can find said experimental piece of collaborative criticism on Memorie di un Giovane Cinefilo.]
The discussion swiftly took a turn which amazed me: most people in the room seemed to agree that meeting people online inevitably leads to problematic and disturbing relationships, and often reveals the odd and dark ways in which we and our online peers over-construct our online personas to be nothing like what we really are. Some people even went as far as to say that this is to be expected, and that most people who have a presence online are necessarily one step closer to psychos and stalker than most people who don’t. The medium, this interweb, it was maintained, is evil per se, because it encourages fantasy and delusional behaviour.
I was reminded of the Eddie Izzard sketch about the National Rifle Association, in which he debunks the pro-gun lobby’s ideology “guns don’t kill people. People do” with “But the gun helps!” and I was wondering if this might be a line of argument. Certainly, the internet might help in this web of oddity and fake identities, and hyperreal hyper-egos, whereby I carry the name of a dead English writer and look like a cartoon drawn by Bill Watterson. On the interwebs “I is another”. Or is I?
My experience - and meeting so many of you in person as I have, I can happily say that you confirm the rule - is that I found many more people on the internet who had the same interests, obsessions, and outlook on life as I do than I have previosuly in school, in my hometown, or in my pilates class. In a place like tumblr here is a process - “natural selection”, or “elective affinities”, to borrow from the high and mighty - which skims the surface of casual and meaningless encounters one might have in life, and aims straight at the core of one’s personality; through this medium we find likeminded individuals with whom to share opinions, jokes, advice, compassion, on a level of sharing that would only be possible in life after years and years of friendship. I know I put myself on the line when I blog, reblog, like, comment, as myself - not as another, imaginary, person. I expect most of the people who latch onto what I have to say will do the same, and they are the people I follow, and with whom I have a conversation here.
Long story short, I love meeting tumblr friends in real life and finding tangible evidence that there’s the person I imagined, just as I had imagined him or her. And that what goes one between us here through this screen also goes on in the company of some fine wine and fish - and can tolerate a dessert plan gone awry (the mango and mint ice-cream had finally set and was delicious-the morning after).
So here’s my Tumblr thank you: thank you for putting me in touch with all these incredible people here. Life is great out there, but it’s even greater in the knowledge that if we’re accidentally born to a family we have nothing in common with, or assigned to a class where we feel total strangers, we are not alone. And Tragos & Mrs, the pleasure was all ours!
Besides, and I will repeat this until my dying day: the strangest, most damaging, harmful encounters I have ever had have consistently been with people I didn’t meet on the internet, so let’s stop pretending that here’s where all the freaks hide. (As anyone who has seen Black Swan can figure, the theatre world is a much more likely haven for psychos, and don’t even get me started on Italy.)
The soundtrack is a not particularly inspired cover of Born to Run.
David Miliband is buying a cornetto for an old lady.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 is about to start. But it was on last night too.