Slow-Cooked Sentences

Going the distance

Rachael Conlin Levy
A package

A present arrived in the mail from a fellow blogger and it made my day. Andrea Lani is someone I began reading some months ago and although I’m still getting to know her, I’ve discovered we share things in common:

She’s a writer who wishes always to be writing more.
“Why have I not submitted anything in the last year 
(other than the fact that I haven’t written anything in the last year)?

She has twin sons.
 “I can’t think of time when I’ve felt less equal to the task of parenting (actually I can…the first two years of the twins’ lives…)”

She loves the wilderness.

“When I take a short walk into nature and sit down with my journal to jot down my observations or sketch whatever is before me … my thoughts slip off their hamster wheel in my head.”

She’s opinionated.
“I am a huge proponent of public school anyway, and if you let me I’ll get on my big (probably offensive to many) soap box about how public school is our most basic democratic institution and that (like water) if the people who care about education (or clean water) only send their kids to private school (or buy bottled water) then there will be no political pressure for public school (or tap water) to meet high standards and it won’t be there for those who need it, but who may not come from a family who has the time, interest or motivation to make it work (or it will just flow rusty from the tap).”

    I like to read what Andrea writes, so I subscribed to her blog, Remains of the Day, which is a place where she sweeps ups her thoughts and the crumbs under her table. Blog friendships are tough to define, being removed by time and space, yet I’m finding on-screen friends much easier to make and maintain in my newly transplanted state. This dilemma interested me, so I went in search of more on the topic and found this article in The New Atlantis written by Roger Scruton, who argues that the ease I’ve had in slipping into these blogging friendships is because they’re easy come, easy go.

    “When attention is fixed on the other as mediated by the screen,” Scruton writes in summer 2010 issue, “there is a marked shift in emphasis. For a start, I have my finger on the button; at any moment I can turn the image off, or click to arrive at some new encounter. The other is free in his own space, but he is not really free in my space, over which I am the ultimate arbiter. I am not risking myself in the friendship to nearly the same extent as I risk myself when I meet the other face to face. Of course, the other may so grip my attention with his messages, images, and requests that I stay glued to the screen. Nevertheless, it is ultimately a screen that I am glued to, and not the face that I see in it. All interaction with the other is at a distance, and whether I am affected by it becomes to some extent a matter of my own choosing.”

    Scruton’s “Hiding Behind the Screen” is a thoughtful and long piece of writing that goes on to examine the negative side-effects of social networks, and I enjoyed it — but not as much as I enjoyed Andrea’s peanut-studded chocolate bar, though I admit would’ve been better had she been there to share it.

    +++

    I follow a changing handful of blogs via Google Reader, an aggregator that allows me to effortlessly keep up-to-date on the writers I follow. If you don’t use such a device, think about employing one because it saves you time and energy by regularly checking websites for updates and creating a unique information space or “personal newspaper.”

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    2 responses to “Going the distance”

    1. Andrea says:

      Oh how very sweet. I'm really moved that you've paid so much attention–and clipped quotes. And so glad you enjoyed the little package (isn't that chocolate addictive??).

      Thanks for that snipped from the Atlantic article–I'll go over and read the whole thing when I have a little more time. I often wonder (and berate myself for it) why I'm so much more interested in total strangers' lives than in people I run into say, at PTA. I think it helps that you can scan through a person's posts, images, links and know right away whether you have anything in common without having to trudge through all of the social niceties before you can even get to that point. I'm very slow to get to know people in real life, so I think I appreciate the instant image (though I'm sure incomplete image) of someone.

    2. Chocolate from a friend is a good thing. Enjoy. As for Roger Scruton, well, I believe there is very little in this word that is black or white. It's mostly grey.

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