Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"A Form of Reading" (2)

A non-blogging friend of mine (they still exist) recently asked me what the point of a blog is. He suspects the whole endeavor is narcissistic, a worry you see popping up on the blogs periodically too.

Janet Holmes took that concern as the starting-point for her reading, and took it literally—what if the structure of our online social interactions mimics the myth of Echo and Narcissus, or Eros and Psyche, or Orpheus and Eurydice, where the conditions of desire require that the lovers never actually see one another “F2F”? (I didn’t know until Holmes explained it that “F2F,” the title of her new book, is text message-ese for “face to face.”)

The poems she read last Monday figured Orpheus as a rock star, Eros and Psyche as IM buddies “E.” and “P.,” and Narcissus as maybe the prototypical MySpace junkie, getting back distorted echoes (“besiege/beseech”; “canoe/anew”) of the idealized self he’s anxious to project. Holmes’s work seemed especially attuned to the criticism of the Internet as a privileged male space, where men are “always around gawking,” assembling their Echoes according to their fantasies of the feminine other. In Holmes’s version of the story, or what I caught of it Monday, Echo gets some of her own back, tweaking, not reproducing, Narcissus’s words, a kind of admonitory reminder that “people turn into what they expect to hear.”

Holmes opened with a piece that suggested another analogue for our virtual exchanges is the act of reading itself, where you’re free to ‘take’ a text any way you want, with no fear of confronting the author F2F. Which invites the thought that imagination may be the 'old school' version of virtuality, poetry the result of the subtle distortions in our always imperfect transmissions between the desired and the real.


Wade said...

I thought blogs were a way to keep up with friends who are far away, among other things.

rodney k said...

Hi Wade,