Dear readers. Some of you may know me and others may not. Most of you are probably familiar with me in some capacity as I doubt that our site’s reach extends much further than a few close friends and relatives and even among that demographic I think we are likely limited to the 3 or 4 of you who bother clicking on any of this when you are scrolling through your web browsers finding out which Lord of the Rings character you are based on your favorite color, food, etc. (#buzzfeed)
It occurs to me that this blog could be readily classified as a waste of effort but only insofar as that effort is deemed a means towards an end with that end being somebody reading what it is we write.
But then again, it ought to be pretty fucking easy to represent writing as an end in itself. Doing so lessens the burden of acquiring readers so I will try to do that here.
This case has been made before (the whole “end in itself” thing is actually a fairly prehistoric notion) and it makes plenty of sense. Those who suffer most in their literary careers often do so from a lack of fulfillment. If this seems like a pretty sweeping generalization then that is because it is one. That being said, how many starving artists and authors exist out in the great wide world who are just so so sure that they have something special to offer if only someone would give them the opportunity and time to pay attention to them. Fulfillment. Me me me me me. What is fulfillment?
Fulfillment is a simple ass word because it basically just means “fill.” For someone to be fulfilled or to feel unfulfilled they are implying that there is some emptiness in them that only say, an avid readership could cure. And yet, I can’t help but think that this is a dangerous way to perceive things.
Think about those thing we have under our control as human beings. We control what we eat, drink, put into our bodies. We control what we do on a day-to-day basis and how we interact with others. We control our manner of expression upon meeting a new person and control how we comport ourselves in interaction with those people.
Think about all of those hypothetical situations and then imagine how often it has come to pass that any of those activities which you would typically label as being something under your control were in fact, not under your control.
How often have you yielded to an animalistic temptation to do one thing when logic or even your own physical wellbeing dictates the contrary? Have you grabbed the last slice of pizza completely unnecessarily after facing 4 slices already? You have definitely grabbed the last slice of pizza. You motherfucker. Did you need it? Did you even want it, insofar as “wants” are those things that we desire (hopefully) translated from something we deem good for ourselves or at the last, pleasant? In this case the activity becomes not a taking for means of fulfillment as much as it is a yielding to that which is easy and available. You feel shitty afterwards as you knew that was a slice too far (as the saying goes) yet you did it anyway. You acted in direct contradiction to your own best interests as a human being and you did so unthinkingly.
The world is filled with these oddities. The things directly under our control can often seem like some of the more difficult things to control, as their sheer immediacy renders the act of choosing opaque to the extent that we don’t realize in these moments that we have a choice at all. We simply act in accordance with what instinct or impulse or addiction drives. These are not moments of fulfillment, nor do they imply a lack in the same way as demanding readership implies one. We do not necessarily feel a personal absence prior to our choosing to eat the last slice of pizza or smoke a cigarette. These are not things over which we agonize and are not things to which we lend a healthy portion of our conscious thought. They just are.
The difference then is in the way in which demanding readership or some other validation is tied to our intellectual and deeply personal notions of ourselves. I am of the opinion that our notions of ourselves are complicated, constructed and chosen. How could they not be? People do not see themselves as just people. People see themselves as people that do things or have certain traits that lend credence to their propensity to do well at some particular thing (even if they never even really act on this belief and just sort of assume that if they did then they would be good at it or something). If you ask someone what they do- they don’t say: “I eat, shit, sleep, eat, etc.” If somebody says something like that then it seems as though they don’t do anything, even though all of those things are not only, you know, “things,” but are also fundamentally basic to our existence as organisms. We don’t care about those things. Those things are common and those things in being common do not paint the image of us as the special, lovely snowflakes that we all think ourselves to be. People need to do things and further, they need to do things that they perceive to be differentiators that separate them from the crowd, things that make them interesting and the curious thing about being interesting is that it can’t exist in a vacuum– there has to be someone else there to be interested. A shiny rock sitting out in space may as well not be shiny. What a waste of effort!
People feel a certain way about themselves, lend adjectives to those thoughts and then rely on others to act as validation towards that end i.e. someone might say “I am an intellectual.” They say intellectual things in casual conversation. Upon saying such things they expect to then either be engaged deeply in such a way as to spark discourse of a higher nature than typical table-talk (tacit validation) or rather they expect to be directly validated through those sorts of flippant “that’s deep” type of statements and things to that effect. It isn’t enough to carry the opinion of oneself as intellectual—rather, the perceived substance to that personal claim lies in external validation—yet this is a dangerous and fickle path to tread. If the lack that we feel regarding our own validating conceits can be thought of as a bucket or some other vessel to be filled with water (external validation) than that metaphorical bucket is riddled with metaphorical fucking holes and needs refilling constantly. There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Demanding readership or craving readership is more of the same instinctual bullshit that drives one towards some of the vices listed above. It is not a choice that we are even capable of making as its satisfaction is driven by external factors that we can try to manipulate but cannot possibly control. This makes validation of this nature less a choice and more of an ardent desire coupled with an expectation that, if not met, renders us feeling hollow or worse, like liars who are lying about our own purpose, abilities, life and trajectory. We desire gratitude and fulfillment and we think that the only way to go about grabbing these things is to be validated by others. We are stricken with fear as we tell a joke that nobody laughs at and we sit around looking at people and praying to not be left in the state of hollow vulnerability that precedes the first, polite chuckle from a friend who knows you are craving a validation fix like a crack addict craves…cigarettes.
If this sounds like a fancy way to convince myself that I do not crave readership then that makes a lot of sense because that probably is what this is. That being said, I have really enjoyed writing for this blog, readership or no. If you are a human being reading this right now, I thank you! If you are not, then I obviously have nothing to say to you, since you wouldn’t be able to hear (see?) me anyway.
Writing for its own sake. It can be a thing. Hobbies and such. Go Mariners.