Blogging and the desire for revenge

Some thoughts from my thesis on life writing and the desire for revenge:

I keep a blog as a means of practising my autobiographical writing. I keep a blog as a means of expressing myself on the page, but not only for myself. I keep a blog to draw to me an external audience of other people whose voices might endorse my thoughts, or challenge them, and thereby help me develop.

As Steven wrote in a comment some time back, blogging acts as a ‘call and response’ form of communication, whereby the blogger leaves a post to which other bloggers and readers of blogs might comment.

My desire for revenge trickles through my blog posts in subtle ways that may or may not not be obvious. They are nevertheless apparent to me, at least to the part of me that has long felt silenced, in the first instance within my family of origin, in which I am the sixth of nine.

In keeping a blog I subvert the overlapping restrictions on my life and battle my way out of the fog of censorship. I reconstruct myself and in so doing I enact my desire for revenge.

I pay back those who might wish to silence me by writing about the process of being silenced. I thereby expose actions and events, which were once secret, hidden, concealed from view, because they were assessed as taboo.

I explore these concealments through elements of self-disclosure, aware that the desire for revenge when given voice can attract a counter attack, a different version of the desire on the part of those who would prefer that I ‘shut up’, and let them have the only say.

Like Natalie Goldberg, ‘I write because I kept my mouth shut all my life…I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay’. In so doing I may well hurt or offend others and they in turn can respond accordingly.

As a blogger I have access to identities, my own and those of others, that I could not have known had I continued my writing life in hard copy only.

My blogging life highlights the fluidity of my mind states and how quickly they can change. Likewise, other bloggers come and go. A blog’s shelf life is limited. Blogs that once started in a welter of enthusiasm now lie dormant, but they remain accessible forevermore through the Internet, like relics of the past.

The rapid speed of connection via the Internet enables a response such that by the time I have written and posted an autobiographical reflection; for example, on my resentment and frustrations about the struggle to write free of internal censorship, my state of mind has changed. I no longer feel as I did when I wrote the piece. I may feel that way again one day but for the time I become enthused again and fired up.

My comments to my blog followers, my ‘bleeders’ as Julie Powell calls them, begin to feel fraudulent. I am no longer the person I was when I wrote the piece in the first instance. I have resumed my confident writing stance, a position I am more likely to take up in response to others’ comments about my writing and when I comment on other people’s blogs.

There is a mantra that underlies many blogs: This is your blog. You can write what you like. You can do, as you will. This is your space. Yet there are unwritten constraints that demand consideration if one is to attract a readership.

Bloggers, like all writers, desire a readership. Otherwise why blog? Why write?

It’s tough being human

The Zen master, Katagiri Roshi speaks throughout Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones. His presence makes me doubt the writer. She quotes him in and out.

Just as I read Roshi’s name for about the fifth time half way through the book, I stop to do a Google search. Who is this man? Is he for real?

He is real of course, albeit dead. He died in 1990 at the less than ripe old age of sixth two and Natalie Goldberg could not believe it when he died.

Reading through some of her thoughts at his death, I find myself thinking about my own obsession with psychoanalysis. Goldberg is into Buddhism and shows total love and devotion to her Buddhist master. For him, she will do anything.

She will sit for hours chanting, bare feet on cold floorboards. For days, she will get up early, at 4.30am then work at prayer and reflection all day, with only a short lunch break until 10.30pm, all in the name of Buddhism – the serenity, the inner peace and calm that Buddhism offers.

I read the story and shudder, and then think twice about my own preparedness to do extraordinary things in the name of my obsession, psychoanalysis. To travel daily for years for my fifty minute session twenty plus kilometers from home and back at great expense.

I did this because I believed it was good for me. I believe it has been good for me, but at the same time, I wonder whether it might have been better for me had I not become so enthralled with the process, had I not fallen so helplessly in love with my analyst for all those years.

The Google site describes how Natalie Goldberg later felt betrayed by her father and her teacher Katagiri Roshi for being human. Roshi, Goldberg later discovered had breached boundaries with another student.

The child in us wants to believe we have perfect parents, or substitutes for them in other forms – religion, Buddhism, psychoanalysis – only to discover later, that our parents are flawed, as are we by association.

Idealisation shifts to denigration all too easily if we are not careful.

Ah but the comfort of these ‘-isms’ is alluring when it’s so tough being human.