About Paul de Jour
Note: This is the essay I wrote in June of 2015 when I launched a previous blog that I have now closed and added to this site: Pauldejour
WordPress, Facebook, Writers and Writing
The inspiration for starting this blog came from Barbara (Severin) Lounsberry, the most overtly literate of the talented class of 1965 of the Malcolm Price Laboratory School, whose 50th class reunion I attended as a sort of amusing exhibit at the request of my brother Richard, just last weekend. The weekend, the school, the class, and certainly Richard all could be lengthy posts of their own, but for now I’m simply thanking Barbara, a Virginia Woolf advocate and admirer, who, when I mentioned my long term dreams but little traction in launching fiction writing, asked if I was doing a journal. I thought that perhaps this writing would get me started, at least in exercising the capability.
Its an oddity, on some levels, that I haven’t done more writing, especially of the social media sort. Unlike so many people I rarely post online in all of the self-expression venues. I’ve puzzled over that, since I am probably one of the most web engaged people that I know. I started working online in 1996 and haven’t stopped.
But since my web design and marketing work predated blogging, and Facebook, and Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/WhatNext, I have looked at those emerging ecosystems as amusing developments for amateur arrivistes, and in many cases have missed the significant groundswell of activity that these systems empowered.
I didn’t feel that I needed to blog, because I could design my own website and didn’t need the help of a blogging tool. But blogging tools and connectivity options soon grew far beyond my design capabilities. I have also had little attraction to posting what I am doing and thinking on Facebook and Twitter. I have several theories as to why that is, and they mostly center around the thought that I am both a public and a private person.
On one side I am obviously outgoing, friendly, love people and conversation, and in many cases am simply the life of the party. I credit this often comic persona to my sibling position, which in my case encouraged behaviors designed to distract the family from its problems. Comedy for me has always been a way to both defuse the tension in the room, and a means of both disarming and charming.
One of my jokes, however, is that I am shy, but only in private. That usually gets a laugh, but like a lot of humor, there is a truth in it, in that the outgoing personality cannot be on stage all of the time. I need some time to think, to ponder, to sort out, to evaluate, and to make sense of life. Its a poorly kept secret of comedians that they often have a darker side, or at at least a thoughtful one. Hence the surprising popularity of the 2014 Jim Carrey graduation speech at Maharishi University of Management.
So, on some levels, since I more or less overcommunicate in public, I don’t feel the need to share what I am thinking privately, via Facebook, Twitter, et al. Opening up that private world brings the risk of making it public again, and then where is the recharge moment? When does the performance ever stop and the deepening, self-reflective moment begin?
Even so, I start this blog in the interest of revealing rather than concealing the thoughful and hopefully insightful side. I have been holding back for perhaps too long.
There is also the question of when, exactly, I was planning to share all of that thinking, all of that brooding, sifting, and evaluating. When you finish reading your 50th book of British nautical fiction, plus all of the Jack Reacher novels, the WWII, Vietnam and Civil war biographies, and all of the amazing movies and Downton Abbey/Foyle’s War/Larkrise to Candleford/Call the Midwife and other viewings you wonder whether you have just become a very highly trained media consumer or will you ever add anything back into the mix.
Sitting on a large number of movie and book ideas, at the end of the day, is still sitting. So, I have felt that I should at least start writing, And sharing that writing is, I believe important, both to join the dialogue, to open up to friends and family, and to run the intellectual and cultural engine that I have become, before the engine itself becomes yet another unraced car.
Just yesterday I spoke with a young writer about the effect that writing has on the writer, in that, when I actually do write something daily, I find that my personal experience deepens, that I observe life with a broader perspective, and that everything seems more profound. It’s a bit like daily physical exercise, in that you feel energized and empowered all day, but in this case mentally.
I think this is why writers are so fascinating to the general public, since, if you have written a book, you must have some kind of light on inside, you must have some sort of wisdom. In addition, the actual process of writing a novel, playing excellent tennis, or doing musical improv is so arcane and incomprehensible to most people that they simply seem miraculous.
And the fact is, doing those things does unleash hidden capabilities and enliven expanded capabilities in the doer. So, what fascinates is that expanded set of possibilities, or more centrally, the level of freedom in human existence that such expansion implies.
Its the miraculous made human, and vice versa.
Always of interest.
But does the beautiful girl
really know the
that shines through her
and does that divine shape
bring her the taste
of pure silence
as it does for us
as it stops and holds