A Radar commenter points out that Joni Mitchell wrote the original impressionistic, disillusioned party report.
I was listening to that song last night (um, what are the odds) and it got me started thinking about going to people’s parties, even though actually yes, there is a rule on the Internet that once Choire has weighed in about something there’s no point in anyone else doing so. And Choire really did nail it — except that the people I was talking to when Jessica was lurking around the periphery of our conversation, collecting dissilussioning impressions, are friends. No -imies suffix needed. And boy it is so true that we don’t control anything.
But even after Choire made sense of things I was still feeling angry at Jessica for sneaking into a party, not really bothering to talk to anyone except to confirm some biases she had going in, and then writing a sweeping pronouncement about it on the Internet and claiming that her insults and exaggerations and reductive, random slams were actually representative of her fearless writerly honesty. But then — uh oh! — I realized that I wasn’t feeling angry so much as I was feeling guilty. Hindsight, man. It’s like 20/10 around here lately.
There’s a difference between being honest and using “honesty” as a justification for being an asshole, and that difference can take years to figure out. I’m still trying to figure it out. I do know that it helps to actually talk to people and listen to what they have to say. It’s also good to actually describe things, to consider the source of everything you hear and everything you read, and to stop being flattered when someone who bears all the hallmarks of being a coward — anonymity, for instance! — tells you that you’re brave.
It’s hard to forgo the satisfaction of savaging someone when you know you’ve got the ammunition, and it’s hard to say no when you’re offered the spotlight. It’s hard to resist snap judgments. It’s hard to ask questions. But if you’re actually interested in being an “honest writer,” these are the things you’ll have to do. On the plus side, though, no blow jobs are involved.
(Also, I’m reinstating comments, but watch your step, crazies.)
(Also, unrelated to anything, via Alice: the point of YouTube turns out to be Steve Nicks backstage awes randomness).