Punk Catholic Thought of the Week
(And The Second Basket of Leftovers)
Would the real Anne Rice please stand up???
I'm being ironic, of course. There has never been a time the real Anne Rice wasn't standing up. But there have always been people who thought they got what was going on with her only to be sucker punched by some new writing that she didn't publish with them in mind but which they took personally, anyway.
I had to deal with some of them on an Interview with the Vampire discussion board soon after she "reverted" to the Church; and I'm seeing a similar disgruntled renunciation on Catholic blogs now that she has "deverted" from it again. Vampires, all of them! My LycanCath soul was disgusted enough when "we" collectively threw Mel Gibson under the bus, but this just takes the cake.
And now you're wondering what this has to do with my latest fragmentorum cofinus . . .
"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."
-- Anne Rice
The difference between autobiographical writing and blogging is that one of them has an ending and that the other has only a time stamp.
When I was still writing on my old blog, I could write about the same things over and over again for months. I'd look at them from different angles . . . see how they handled new writing styles . . . try to figure out what it was I really thought about them. And whenever I believed my mind had finally been made up, a new insight would come to me--via a comment or another blog I had been reading--and this process of thinking out loud (or thinking online) would begin anew.
I've been doing my thinking "on paper" since I started keeping a journal as a teenager. Until I graduated to HMTL, I filled up almost twenty notebooks with just my ramblings. Hundreds upon hundreds of pages. I still have those old journals; now and then I remind myself that I want to burn them. They are like so many old newspapers to me: the headlines, the editorials, the birth and death announcements, and the funnies of my life. Like old newspapers, they lose their relevance once the next day's news arrives.
Yes, the latest news is always hatched from the old news--or at least it is when I get to do journalism. I insist on continuity--and on context. And I wonder why, when the new contains the old, it is necessary to keep the shells.
Blogging was a new medium that completely changed the way I covered my own life. It used to be that my thoughts were not published until they had been thoroughly worked out--beaten into sharp swords or aged into a perfect vintage in the smithies and wine cellars of my mind. Nobody ever read anything before it was as perfect as it could be. I might have an editorial fit six months later and want to rewrite the whole thing, but it would have had all the integrity of the moment, in its own moment. But what blogging does is give everything I write--even the half forged weapons and the newly pressed grapes--the same integrity. That can be, as Anne Rice must know, a very risky way to be a writer.
Last December, I had some thoughts about being a "cradle Catholic" that seemed to clash with a certain pro-convert culture in the Catholic blogosphere. The dissonance ate at me; I had to write about it until I figured out why. Since I was also playing around with the idea of "theme months" at around that time, I called this period of reflection and gymnastics "Bad Catholic" Month and styled my posts accordingly.
Then the worst thing that could possibly have happened, happened: I went viral.
And people who did not understand what was going on--some people who had never before read a word I had blogged--showed up to scream.
Another blogger who had been particularly offended sent me a private message to explain why I had been so "wrong." Feeling simultaneously chastened and unrepentant, aware of both the power of my words and the fact that they had been taken the wrong way, I mused in my reply, "I don't think there is anything I can say to acquit myself." And he wrote back: "That's why I forgave you. Forgiveness is for the inexcusable." And I thought, "Oh, wow. You really are the jerk everyone says you are."
(Oh, dear. Was that a cheap shot?)
The whole experience ran along the same hilarious, ridiculous lines; but by the end, I was no longer laughing. More shaken than I wanted to admit, I closed that blog, moved all my public writing here, and decided it would be all funnies, all the time. With, yes, an occasional Punk Catholic post--because some things can't be completely suppressed.
But funnies aren't always edifying, and the "punk" theme is not one I can keep nursing forever. For the past few months, I've had hardly anything in that corner. And that is because there is, at the moment, nothing "punk" left to write. It is old news; it is the shell from which something new has hatched. But I'm not sure what that new thing is--and I won't until I've written about it for a while.
This is why I side with Anne Rice in her freedom to blog that she has renounced Christians out of loyalty to Christ.
I have no doubt that she means it. I mean everything I write when I publish it, too. But that doesn't mean I will still mean it several years from now. And this doesn't mean that I don't know my own mind. In this online culture which thrives on immediacy and in which last week's news is practically ancient history, it is hard enough to remember the wise saying that "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." It must be next to impossible to remember that saints and sinners are often difficult to tell apart in the tangle of the present.
I had thought that "Kiss My Blog!" was a good enough response to anyone having a self-important fit over something I had blogged; but now I think it would be more accurate to snarl, "Kiss My Time Stamp!"
The sweetest thing is that it will probably go over his sorry head . . .
I'm opening the combox again.
Image Sources: a) Anne Rice 1, b) Anne Rice 2