In writing this blog, I have learnt something about self. The maxim ‘I is another’ refers to a sense of identity that is multi-faceted. Rimbaud wrote this in a letter to his mentor to declare, quite pompusly and vain-gloriously, his literary credentials as a poet. But, moreover, he made this statement to exert another identity: his sense that the written word of his visions came from elsewhere, something mystical guided his hand, so to speak.
Now I’m curious about this blogging phenomenon. The symbiotic relationship that necessarily must exist between writer and reader/commentator. The reader must comment to validate the writer’s sense that he is working profoundly, that he exists and is not merely staring into a reflection of the abyss. Readers verify, creatively so in the shape of blogs. I’ve always been obsessed with words, so I find this platform an interesting one. I try to keep my sentences short. I try, and fail, to use humour to engage. I post pictures, polls, links, videos – and these seem to generate equally abysmal responses. I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I don’t mind feeling that I write with no authority – with, thus, no legitimacy for originality, and hence, presumably, for no audience.
No, I really don’t mind feeling as if I am writing for no one, and occupying a void of empty space – for, you see, I presently live in Oberalm, a tiny village in Austria, so I’m comfortable with such feelings of nothingness.
Perhaps if I wish for readership I should just try a different approach and post a photograph of a lovely looking celebrity. Hmmm.
The reason I write this about readership and validity is that recently I was considering Jean-Paul Sartre, as you do. His work repeatedly explored a theme that resonates here, since I’ve read about others who share this feeling of despondency when they write and receive no feedback.
Sartre explains by anecdote from childhood how he became aware of his existential self. In Being and Nothingness, his great essay, JP recounts how he was peering through a keyhole as a child, watching someone secretively. The subject of this voyeurism became objectified, detached from himself. Suddenly, he heard a creeking floorboard behind him, and in an instant he realised himself as the object of another’s gaze. In a momentary flash of incredibly advanced insight for a small boy (that certainly underscored his credentials as a leading thinker later in life), young Jean-Paul wiped the sugar-glazed onion from his lips and formulated the philosophy that would bind him to history forever: ‘essence precedes existence.’
Quickly, Sartre darted down the stairs, quite forgetting both the nudey maid he’d been spying on and the lurking parent who had caught him in the act of perving. Fevered with epiphany, he went directly to the sitting chambre, switched on the beige Dell computer in the corner of the room, waited an hour while it booted up, connected the dial-up Lan line to the internet socket (while first checking that no one was using the telephone), dialed through to his ISP – FOL (filosophers on line) account, listened for the sounds of internet connectivity, opened the web domain portal, waited 10 minutes, re-connected and re-loaded, repeated the action again, slightly red-in-the-face, amassed enough megabyte exchanges, closed down all the pop-up windows, waited for the download process of Bytes, tapped in the url and logged on to his WordPress blogsite.
Once there, the 8 year old Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his famous dictum based on the experience of the keyhole, ergo: man is like a little boy peering through a keyhole, oblivious and happy, but once he hears the creek of a floorboard he enters a state of self-consciousness that extracts him forever from the state of pre-reflective consciousness. In short, the eyes of the other on him objectify him, and give him definition and awareness of his self.
I think I’ve managed to explain the idea succinctly there and get the jist of what JP meant to say. There’s probably more written on the subject but you’d have to look it up. I recommend this website I’ve recently discovered (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page)
Now: the point. Sartre, in his state of realisation/awareness and self-consciousness is like the blogger, who awaits a response to validate what he writes and why he does it. The symbiotic relationship with ourself is not complete without others to define who we are. Or as I would like to coin it: ‘Blogs is other people’.
So there you have it: I’ve managed to get a quote form the Qu’ran in the title, and references to Rimabud, Nietzsche and Sartre all in one post. And if that doesn’t attract some readers, here’s a picture of a modern intellectual, the “thinking man’s crumpet” (TV Quick, November 1998) Carol Vorderman.