The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sex in the City Syndrome

I've just realized something . . . that no matter how inane your blog might be, if you end it with a series of questions, you sound smart and introspective. I think of this as the Sex in the City syndrome: Carrie Bradshaw pecks away at her computer after some life crisis, and what does she come up with? A series of rhetorical questions for her audience. She never actually asserts anything. Yet we are all stuck with our hands on our chins going "Hmmmm, this show is amazing. It is funny, sexy, and wise. I must watch more of it."

Boy have I been fucking this up.

My inane blog could be so much cooler. With a few well-place rhetorical questions, I could even rate a bucket list or at least some readers.

I've decided to battle everything that was taught to me (and that I taught for four years) in rhetoric and composition: namely, don't EVER use a question. Express yourself ONLY in statements because questions allow the reader to intrude into YOUR argument.

But now I ask myself, why fear the reader intrusion? (see look at me go--a question already--sort of) If my reader is hella smart, then he or she is going to project his or her hella smartness on my writing as long as I don't ever state an actual opinion.

However, something in me wants to rebel against this trend (more in another post on how if you disagree with everything that is mainstreaming, you will seem that much cooler . . . and then another post on how if you are disagreeing ironically with all that is mainstream then you are so cool that you kick way ass). Relegating my writing and opinions to a series of questions is like only following the prefabricated, safe PS book club guide at the end of a trade paperback without adding any analysis and synthesis and relevance to your life. You won't own anything you read unless you mentally do the work to engage with it. Prefab questions are a cop-out, used to assuage the latent sense of intellectual inferiority that runs through our culture.

Should I have phrased that last bit in the form of a question?

I don't want to be too perverse. Deep breath. I am going to do it. Or am I going to it? Lots of questions. Lots of questions?

Why is it that we engage more readily if invited to intrude into a conversation via a series of questions (no matter how scripted and shallow they may be)?

Why don't we recognize that all writing is predicated on dialogue and needs it to thrive?

Why can't we see that we are fools to forget the above and allow an author free reign in influencing our thoughts?

Why don't we work anymore as readers to claim the text as ours?

Are we too fearful of asserting our own opinion when another is speaking with confidence?

Or is it like Taylor Mali says, it is now just uncool to actually have a real opinion?

Why did the convenience store fail to stock Cheez-Its today?

Why do I always buy the bad coffee there?

Will I ever finish The Interrogative Mood?

Why didn't Padgett Powell at least incorporate some sort of narrative into the question(able) story?

Why don't we think back at authors? Why do we need a question to make us understand that we already contain the answer?

Let me rephrase.

We do not need prefabricated PS questions. We can think on our own.

Any questions?

No comments:

Post a Comment