Death be not blogged
: John Perry Barlow wrote two remarkable posts about the apparent suicide of his friend, Spalding Gray, and the little funeral he had for him on his blog. But he just wrote something even more notable about the hecklers at that funeral who came to his comments. Barlow explains his own posts and, in the process, explains much of the reason why people write these weblogs:
Among the beliefs that [Spalding Gray] and I shared was a conviction that making public the intimately personal is a revolutionary act in an atomized society where many feel compelled to play so close to the chest that they can’t read their own cards. Being emotionally naked before strangers extends to them a permission for self-revelation they badly need if they are to loosen the shackles of their own quiet desperations. It is a blow against the pursuit of loneliness.
Had I been the one who leapt and were Spalding still as he was before his breakdown, he would be incorporating my disappearance into a monologue at this very moment.
This is about living — and dying — in public.
In fact, Anthony Cox just sent me a link to a post he wrote about people who are dying and blogging about it. I haven’t had the courage to read them yet. Too much death lately.
Barlow goes on to talk about death:
But death has become wild and obscene in this country. Its power threatens our national religion of control. To die in America is to fail. It is an act of weakness….
Merely to speak of death in plain terms is considered by many to be disrespectful and offensive….
Having gotten that off his chest, bluntly and openly, Barlow then scolds the commenters who would scold him for not being open themselves:
I think it odd that someone can write of my disrespect while showing me so little.
And I find it marvelously ironic that I am accused of name-dropping by someone who is unwilling to drop even his own.
(On that last point, I beg those of you who post to this blog to please do so without hiding behind false identities. I want to build a kind of community here. Community without personal responsibility ceases to exist. And responsibility requires identity and the courage to own one’s opinions.)