Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monologue or Dialogue?

Today, the monologue is supreme and the air is thick with angry rants and piteous laments.  The viciousness of this phenomenon is given its teeth by the internet, but the appetite for the one-sided speech has been a part of human experience since we created language.

Although it is tempting to reach for the extreme and claim that thanks to the internet, communications among people these days  are more vain and self-serving than they have ever been, I won't do it.  In fact, the urge to make that claim is part of the reason I feel compelled to say something about it.

Another reason for writing about it is that I may be part of the problem.

This journal--now called a blog because it is on the internet--could easily be described as a monologue, loaded with the very same rants and laments that I decry in what is this, a rant?  Or is this a lament?

Actually it is neither.  It's a part of the group of writings that I have deliberately called my observations and comments, because that's all I have ever wanted it to be.  And that's all it has been, for many years now, a place where I can write down--purge from my overheated brain--my thoughts and observations.

This journal existed long before the internet, and it continues to go on outside of it.  I keep another journal--pen and ink--for observations and comments that occur to me when I have a few moments to collect my thoughts at the end of the day.  And there is the journal I keep in my bag, so I can write when I am on the bus, or in a meeting.

Some of the entries in this journal are rants, sometimes they are laments.  But most times they are boring, quotidien bits of detritus that are more akin to exfoliating than actual writing.  In other words, nothing I'd want to share with others.  In a word, its a monologue.

But this journal is different.  Or at least I hope it to be so.  This journal was intended, right from the start, to be a dialog.  That is, I had a reader in mind, someone with whom I wanted to communicate important thoughts and feelings.  Sometimes these have taken the form of rants and laments, but in that sense that they were intended to reflect my thoughts and feelings, which, like most, tend to run toward the sensational. More important, those words were for someone. Otherwise, why write?

Better, what to do when the reader loses interest or dies?  What does the writer write about when there is no one listening?

The answer is (naturally): the same damn thing we do every night, Pinky.  Of course, technically, it's still very much a monologue, even when I can imagine someone listening.  And, since I do all the writing, the feedback that comes in person from my friends and family is not visible as part of the record.  So despite my intent, the speech is still very much one-way.

This speech, words that I cannot and do not suppress here is, I hope, more and different than a mere monologue.  More in the sense that it is not just a idle or Different in the sense that I intend it for public consumption.  These are not my private thoughts, they are public ones.  They are also not random, but directed to my friends and family.  At first, it was to my mother-in-law, Billie, to my Bride, Valery, and to my brothers, David and Stephen. Now, more than ever, these words are especially addressed to my daughter, Maddie.

Though Maddie does not now read this journal, I suspect that someday she will.  I hope, like any father, that my daughter will be interested in who I was and what sorts of things I thought about.  She has some idea, of course.  While we talk every day, and many of the things I write about actually come from discussions--actual dialogues--with her, there are many questions she will have about me long after I am gone.  This journal may serve to answer at least some of them.

I will not pretend to be writing literature here.  This stuff is raw, unfiltered and as close to moonshine as you can get.  It's occasionally a little rough, and it'll make you gag from time to time, but there are some real good moments in here as well.  That's why I and how I do it, after all.  By keeping in mind that I do have an audience, I imagine that I am engaging in a dialog--albeit a very slow one--and consequently hope to keep this work from becoming too self-centered.

Ok, so it's too late for that.  But, while this isn't exactly a two-volume auto-biography, it's also not a Tweet.

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