I’m sitting here wondering what to write about for my next blog—and the one after—and the one after that. My brain is in neutral, so I bounce about other people’s blogs hoping to spark a response, or a topic. They say you should pretend you’re at a cocktail party, flitting between groups, picking up bits of conversation, hoping to find one you can participate in. But I’m terrible at cocktail parties; I can’t do small-talk. And let’s face it; most of the conversations at cocktail parties are small talk. In fact, a lot of the small talk today is about what website or blog provides the answers whoever brought up the topic was looking for. Each carrying a personal internet around connecting to other webs.
So what’s it about, this vast need for spider webs? To find others like ourselves, I think, and this need I understand. Writers seek writers, cooks seek cooks, photographers seek photographers, and form close little groups, immune from the view of others. Criminals seek criminals, too, of course, pedophiles seek pedophiles, and reveal that this act of closing ourselves into cells may not be altogether healthy. This need explains a lot, but not cocktail parties.
People who go to cocktail parties, I think, are casting their webs outward—seeking, seeking. But if the harvest is small-talk, I don’t see the rewards. The kind of talk I find rewarding takes place between two, three, or four friends—not of the virtual sort. A friend and were I talking, the other day, about books that moved us—changed us, spoke to our inner-selves. That led us to open and find commonality in our deeper selves. That’s the kind of interaction I seek and believe others do also. That’s why I write book blogs and hope to attract the sort of surfer who is looking for that deeper reward.
There are books that are like cocktail parties, too, of course. Or theme parks. They lighten the day, bring us the thrill of the chase, fear of the unknown stalker. I read them for that—for taking a break. But the books I write blogs about are those that for whatever reason make me stop, settle, open my inner self. Maybe because the protagonist speaks to that self, maybe because the experience is one I’ve had in my life, but neither are necessary. I truly believe it’s because the author has the gift of language combined with insight into human behavior that cuts through to the heart of the matter. By this I don’t mean language that point to its own art. Quite the opposite. I mean language that is transparent to meaning—so clear you are not aware of it at all.
Wait for a few examples of this gift in my next blog.