I spent today offline. I wrote something. I post it here fully recognising the irony inherent in doing so.
OFFLINE. Sitting on my front step in San Francisco’s Mission District. May 19th 2011. I am taking a sick day from work, and since I don’t actually have much to do at work it’s a real SICK DAY not “working from home”. I’ve resolved to stay offline til tonight. It’s sunny out and why not enjoy that? I lay in bed til early afternoon sleeping and reading a book about the history of the Riot Grrl movement. It got me thinking about zines and zine culture. I only discovered zines AFTER I got online (1993 or so) and I saw them as a dead/dying art form. Why wouldn’t you make a website or set up an email newsletter or use the internet SOMEHOW??? To me, paper zines seemed self-consciously retro, pig-headedly anti-tech, when tech and the Internet seemed like the most effective way to communicate (with certain caveats, obviously, about communities who were not online — the “yet” was implicit.) But today I am thinking about creation rather than communication. My new year’s resolution was “be an artist” and wen I set that resolution it wasn’t so much about producing artifacts (ART-ifacts?) or showing them to people as it was about a mindset. I wanted to be open to beauty and wonder and all that bullshit and while I sometimes feel it when I’m in front of a computer mostly I’m just numb, and even the truly awesome doesn’t make me stop and feel my heart and mind expand… instead I am switching windows to tweet it blog it repost it share it plus-one it so that everyone will be impressed with how cool I am to have found whatever it is or to be hanging out with the cool kids who tweet the witty one-liners or the best blog posts. Right now I’m thinking about blogging this, whether to scan or photograph the pages, I drew a copyleft symbol at the top of the page so I can say that this rant (which I’m writing on my knee in a moleskin notebook (so hip!)) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license so you can quote it and link back to ME ME ME MY BLOG MY TWITTER. Yes, I have officially just disappeared up my own arse. But what would happen if I really went offline? If I wrote my thoughts on paper and (whoa…) didn’t post them at all? I haven’t done that, not really, since I was about thirteen, and I devised my own sad little cypher to stop anyone reading my diary. There’s always an audience, always publication, always communication. Is it communication without an audience? Would I find any point in doing it at all? I bought this Moleskine to do just that, to do “The Artist’s Way” 3 pages a day thing, and I never use it for that. I want/need an audience. ME ME ME. I want/need to connect with people. US US US. Sometimes I hate the filters I put up, the gags I speak around, online — every word an effort to make myself clearly heard, knowing people will misunderstand everything and then tell me about it again and again until I’m scared to say anything without even MORE care and drafts and beta readers and sleeping on it and WordPress sitting open in a tab saying, “Do you dare?” What if… what if I slowed the fuck down and stopped feeling like I had to post all the damn time? What if I wrote on paper where I couldn’t self-edit or hit backspace or close the browser tab because I hate my own words or I’m afraid of what people will say? And what if… what if I distributed it offline, on paper, and if you want to comment you do it the same way? Is that just pretentious? I’m shit at snail mail, how would it even work? Maybe… maybe I just need to sit on my front step in the sun with the afternoon wind off Twin Peaks blowing the page around under my pen so my writing’s a fucking mess, and be here now enjoying the daylight and the guys down the block working on their bikes and the sharpness of the shadow of my hand on the cream paper (I wish I could trace it and show you but it keeps running away) and my pasty hairy white legs stretched out on the gritty sidewalk, and not be in too much of a rush to get this online and hit reload reload reload waiting for affirmation and love and more Twitter followers. What if I started a zine like it’s 1992 and I don’t even have a blog and if you want to read my shit you send me $1 and some stamps? What if I paste screeds on walls and paint them on sidewalks and hand them to people as flyers and do it outdoors in the street face to face in the weather and the noise and the city air that smells of traffic and food and piss, instead of in front of a Macbook in the dim dull indoors? What if I quit my job (wait, I am!) and go sit on a beach (yup!) and don’t blog/tweet/give a shit? Would you still love me? Would you send me $1 and some stamps for my zine?
Quick, quick, hit post before I think too hard!
Comment policy: I would like you to comment via the same medium. Get offline, write your comment or create it somehow away from your computer, then send it to me. Scans/photographs are fine. You can link them in comments below. Comments not in this format will be deleted.