Friday, April 14, 2006
On masks, and nakedness …
In the seething pool we share, there is an equality of sorts that has immense value – my voice equals yours if I’m good enough. If not, I end up on a weekend retreat with Rev. Billy Sol and a slew of First Church of Gooey Death and Mass Destruction types. And now I’ve got the FBI, NSA and Cheney aboard, so the train’s ready to roll.
My favorite line from Emily is: “Hello, I’m nobody. Who are you? Are you nobody too?” From her loony attic, this probably was aimed at a robin or a squirrel or perhaps a mirror, but it’s was prescient, for that’s the WWW. We’re all nobody.
Until it gets kinda close and then we all lose our masks because a Delaware name on a blog read by folks in Colorado means nothing (save for Tax-Free Shopping? And 32% monthly). But here that same name queers the deal and the charm of the masquerade ball is over. The mystery is stripped out and a name, a face and a whole resume with all its baggage comes attached to a post, coloring it with authority or scorn or shame the content has not earned. A pity, for the purity of the offering evaporates as well.
By remaining a nobody, a poster forces the reader to focus only on the message, and what it provokes. Some aim for consideration. Some for chuckles. Some for throbbing (gotta hold the Googlers) veins in temples and spittle on the keyboard. And there is fun in that because this methodology also leaves intact what the fiction writer strives for – an element of vagueness allowing the reader to fill in the blanks with their own images, sounds and back story. Over time this fleshes out and colors the posts, but it adds to the fun – or frustration if you have a burning need to rip the mask from the Avenger.
So a mask need not automatically equate to cowardice, though it does equate to bad manners if it cloaks a personal attack and rallies nefarious legions of Doom to inflict real harm. And even that’s OK I guess, although it is an awful lot like giving the locusts the coordinates on your south forty. And leaves you with only Fanatical Devotion to the Pope and Fear as a defense, as Surprise would be a mask of folly. Sorry kid.
You see, you attack with the power of your ideas, overwhelming a weaker argument, a shoddy foundation or a selfish intent. You persuade with your words, not at the point of a gun, not with a yank at a man’s lifeblood. That’s muscle, not mind, and nothing lasting is built that way. That’s Landslide Lyndon thinking – Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow. Never have, never will.
As for me, I’m nobody. Value me, or dismiss me, for what I say. Because I know one thing for certain: I could be wrong.