Why Am I Doing This?

Writing such personal stuff, I mean. What do I hope to achieve? (insert brooding photograph here)

No getting around it, I’m old as dirt and downright ugly unless I’m smiling, at twilight with the light at my back.

I well remember Manny, a girl I knew in university, her fishnet stockings as we sat in by pool at Kanaka Creek Falls, her impish smile, the scars on her wrists. She had been held for a while in a mental hospital after a halfhearted suicide attempt, and she talked about how difficult it was to convince the doctors and staff that she was sane, how she needed to be totally phony, always cheerful and smiling, to be considered safe for release. She talked about the dangers of life among the other patients, and how the neurotics were the worst because they would latch on to her and tell her the most intimate details of their lives and thoughts, after which they would want to kill her. I asked her why this would be so. “It’s because knowing who they are gives a person power”, she told me. “Revealing themselves makes them vulnerable.”

I wonder where Manny is today. I wish I she would find me, though that would almost certainly disappoint us both.

If knowledge of my life, experiences and thoughts give power to strangers, as a neurotic would have it, why would I want to expose myself? It’s not like I expect people to understand me, or have any expectation of influencing them. In fact, I expect a very superficial understanding of who and what I am at best, and great ammunition for trolls at worst. What’s to be gained by “sticking my head above the trenches”? I am generally happy with who I am, or so I tell myself, and quite comfortable in my own skin, but I don’t have any deep wisdom or insights to offer. I’m a fool, and in so many ways a failure. Why reveal this to strangers, or even to friends and family. My revelations can never be concise enough, complete enough, or brave enough to have any value. WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?

Worst of all, why is the subject of my writing so trivial. Is this world so uninteresting that I can only write about me. How incredibly boring.

I admire an honest and brave autobiography. “The Original Sin” by Anthony Quin comes to mind. An unvarnished portrait brave enough to reveal that Quin beat his wife on finding out that she wasn’t a virgin when they married. Even more impressive for shameless self revelation is the autobiography of Julia Philips, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again”, replete with heavy drug use and hallucinations of insects crawling out of her vagina.
My writing, so far, amounts to self aggrandizement and censors the behavior that I’m ashamed to have fully known by the world, my betrayals of friends who supported me, the drug use, the inappropriate sexual advances that amount (in today’s world) to abuse and predation .

I also seem to be incapable of creative invention of interesting characters. I’d have no problem doing a roman a clef based on thinly disguised people I have know, but weaving them into a cohesive story just seems like too much work. What happened to my ambition? Where did my work ethic go?

Of course, the above are all rhetorical questions. I know exactly, precisely, why I’m writing. First of all, I like to write. I want the practice. Writing is an exploration of my brain and can give surprising results. Every once in a while I produce a story, or a turn of phrase, that delights me. So this personal website, which some might call a blog, is really just a wank. I can no longer do that in physical reality. Maybe this writing is just a substitute for diminished mojo.

And then there’s the thing of trying to connect with you, my reader, if you are out there in cyberspace somewhere. I think I have a deep need to be known, to be admired, to be appreciated. I think I harbour the hope, deep down, that I can persuade you, my invisible and imaginary audience, to have thoughts about me. Whether admiration, amusement, or disgust hardly matters.

It’s a pathological hunger for attention. A need to jump up and down yelling, “I exist.”

Along those lines, please drop me a comment some times if one of my posts triggers a thought or a feeling. I live for your comments.

And thanks for reading.

Sometimes I Have a Very Good Day

This landed in my email inbox today, asking me to approve a comment from Alex:

Hey Mr. Dalen, just dropping by to say that I recently watched “Passion” on the Gold Ninja release of “Skip Tracer”.

I’m not a film critic, or especially good writer, and I’m short on time at the moment, so all I have to say is that I had fun with “Skip Tracer”, but absolutely adored “Passion”. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to view the film, and look forward to sharing it with others when I get the chance.

Thank you for these great films!

My idea of a great poster.

And of course I had to reply.

Alex: Thank you for taking the time to submit this comment. For years now I’ve had the feeling that “Passion” will eventually find its audience, which is not the audience that expects the normal tropes and sensibilities of mainstream romcoms. It’s very heartening to hear from a member of that audience, and your help in spreading the word is very appreciated. As I said in my defense of “Passion”, I believe “Passion” is not only of historical significance, being possibly the first prosumer digital feature that makes no excuses for the format, but also a socially radical film.
By the way,Tim Johnson, in reality a cis gendered family man and the actor who played Bob, the transvestite, wrote this line for his character:”But I’m not gay. It empowers me.”

I have always wondered about that line. How did it occur to Tim? Where the hell did it come from? Does it have any basis in reality? Well, fairly recently I asked a new friend why his first marriage ended in divorce and he answered, “I’m a heterosexual transvestite and my first wife couldn’t handle it.” So I invited him and his second wife to dinner to show them the movie and ask him about the line. He told me that it was spot on for him. His mother had been a very dominant personality and a seamstress, and somehow women’s clothing acquired a sexual frisson that he found irresistible. I told this to Tim and asked him how he came up with the line. He said,”I just thought it was funny.”
Thanks again. Your comment has made my day. And yes, please do spread the word.