Thursday, October 22, 2009

Human connection, on my terms

Yesterday I listened to Terry Gross's interview with Michael Chabon on the Fresh Air podcast. Chabon was pimping his book Manhood for Amateurs, a collection of personal essays about being a father and a son and a husband.

I've read Wonder Boys a couple times and tried to get through Kavalier and Clay a couple times. I'll try again. Chabon makes me jealous -- he makes it seem so easy that I think I can do what he does. My desire to assume his identity is compounded by the fact that he seems to have a similar mentality to me: he said that what motivates his writing is a desire for human connection, and that he has neither the motivation nor the facility for those connections in real life. His stories become an idealized form of human interaction, a fantasy world in which the reader gets all his jokes and shares all his arcane interests.

I suppose that's why I've resurrected this blog after a long hiatus, why geocaching appealed to me, why I like teaching mathematics, why I like -- with some embarrassment -- online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, why I read tech blogs and listen to podcasts. They are all forms of connection with other humans, but it's all abstracted. Topics and facts and silly achievements give us something to talk about, without really talking about anything.

So, thanks, Mike, for getting me back on my blog horse, even if only for one time. In exchange, maybe I'll go buy your book and talk about it on the internet. I'm pissed that it's not on the Kindle yet -- I'll have to interface with a physical book. That makes me slightly uncomfortable.


Lucid said...

Fascinating; perhaps I'll pick up his book.

Pear Head said...

What is the world coming to when someone is uncomfortable with a physical book?

firstbass said...

Here is the discomfort specifically: lying in bed on my side, holding a hardcover with one hand, is really tiring. Holding my iPod touch is great, but the trade-off is eyes getting tired.

I hear you, though, about lamenting the decline of physical books. Are you familiar with Nicholson Baker? He has a book called Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper that you may identify with. Also, he has an interesting review of the Kindle in the New Yorker.