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Tangent - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
So, as I'm heading back to the security desk to reclaim my driver's license after visiting the ICU, someone calls out to me from behind and comes running up. I place the face, but it takes me a second to register the hail. "So this is where he is?" It's one of my favorite former students, someone I haven't seen much of over the past few years, but whom I am always delighted to run into. And he's wearing hospital scrubs. "How's he doing?" I explain that, though my father-in-law is still in ICU and therefore remains in critical condition, he's doing a little better. "A lot better than on Friday and Saturday." My former student and I exchange a few more words and then he rushes back to his station. As I'm putting my license back in my wallet and then walking out to the car, I wonder at the way the pronoun functioned in his initial comment. "So this is where he is." Even though our conversation was a product of multiple displacements, prised loose from the context in which we were used to encountering each other, this blog provided a substitute context sturdy enough to make the antecedent to "he" self-evident. I find that comforting, somehow, despite my lingering anxieties about the dissolution of the line between private and public life. It's odd to think that this former student is still reading me here, but I'm pleased by the discovery, not only for reasons of vanity -- I'll freely admit to taking pleasure in being read -- but because it made our conversation tonight feel like a supplement to previous conversations, part of a continuing story, rather than a random, one-time occurrence. If I have to confront the possibility that my LJ serves as a sort of dwarf "reality television" for the people who read it, that's a price I'm willing to pay.

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From: e4q Date: January 9th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i like the sound of that, too, it gives a sensation of community which i think we, as a society, have been moving away from, with discontinuity being the order of the day. hurrah for the interweb!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 9th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes. It may be the most dramatic example yet of why making my life public in this way does more than make me vulnerable. The word "open" keeps popping into my head.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: January 9th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I agree with you that it's weird. Sometimes I would talk to siyeh and she would say or I would say, "Oh, did you tell me that, or did I read it on LJ?" And it got to the point that we couldn't discern between real life and written life. But I'm okay with this. The way I figure it, the only people who read my thoughts are people who are interested, anyway.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 9th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's another thing about personal blogging, the seemingly endless bouts of deja-vu. I have the same problem with my LJ friends.

What made last night's encounter so interesting is that this person in not on LJ and never engages with me electronically. Once, when he was in my class in Spring, 2004, he mentioned stumbling upon the blog. And he made one other reference to reading it later that year. But that was it.

That he's reading me long after graduation reminds me that what we do here exists in a realm that overlaps areas of daily life that are normally much more distinctly compartmentalized.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: January 9th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Ahhhhhh, see, I made the assumption that he had an LJ. But since he doesn't, that's even more interesting. Oh how odd. I wonder if anyone reads my stuff who isn't my "lJ Friend?" Now you've got me thinking...

It's like bleeding--blog bleeding--the way you've described it. How strange to think that I'm accessing someone's brain through their computer screen. Or they're accessing mine, or both, or whatever. I will say, however, there's something both comforting and irritating about the mediating aspect of the internet.
kolakoski From: kolakoski Date: January 9th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
My brother-in-law started a LJ last spring after being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. My wife only knows him via the blog, and while anxious to meet him in person, she feels closer to him thanks to LJ. It's an amazing tool.
e_compass_rosa From: e_compass_rosa Date: January 9th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm new to LJ, but not to blogging -- I have another, non-anonymous, public blog. I came here, I think, to have a space where I felt like I could delve into my private self in a way that I don't feel comfortable doing in my public blog. Maybe that's because there's stuff there to hide, maybe because I'm also trying to work through intense issues that I don't necessarily want my students reading (and, like you, I know that some do read my other blog).

What is interesting to me though, is that even though my current LJ thing is anonymous, I still have difficulty with the line between public and private life. I still struggle with what to reveal, what to write about, what to keep for myself.
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