Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, December 17, 2002  

To blog or not to blog?

That is the question that a friend posed to me recently when I informed her of my having started a blog. Her concern wasn't so much my intent, as the sagacity of my opening myself and my personal life to the world. In reply I said, among a great deal of other things, that not only is the blogosphere (slowly blog-speak invades my vocabulary!) hardly the world, but also that I have no intention of getting up close and personal. Not only is my personal life boring as hell, as Holden Caufield might say, but frankly, it's no one's business, unless and until I decide to share it with them.

Still. What would be the great harm if I were to lay myself bare, like a patient etherised upon a table? Ultimately, what would it matter what people knew of me, even and especially if I told them everything? And what is "everything" anyway? We are large; we contain multitudes. It would take an infinite number of lifetimes to even begin to scratch the surface of the being that is Jonathan Ali. Okay, maybe not an infinite number. But you get the point.

Here is what Dave Eggers, he of the Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, has to say:

"What am I giving you? I give you nothing. I am giving you things that God knows, everyone knows. They [his parents] are famous in their deaths. This will be my memorial to them. I give you all these things, I tell you about his legs and her wigs - I do so later in this section - and relate my wondering if I should be having sex with my girlfriend in front of their closet the night of my father's service, but what, after that, in the end, have I given you? It seems like you know something, but you still know nothing. I tell you and it evaporates. I don't care - how could I care? I tell you how many people I have slept with (thrity-two), or how my parents left this world, and what have I really given you? Nothing. I can tell you the names of my friends, their phone numbers, but what do you have? You have nothing. They all granted permission. Why is that? Because you have nothing, you have some phone numbers. It seems precious for one, two seconds. You have what I can afford to give. You are a panhandler, begging for anything, and I am the man walking briskly by, tossing a quarter or so into your paper cup. I can afford to give you this. This does not break me. I give you virtually everything I have. I give you all the best things I have, and while these things are things that I like, memories that I treasure, good or bad, like the pictures of my family on my walls I can show them to you without diminishing them. I can afford to give you everything."

posted by Jonathan | 12:02 AM 0 comments


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