I’ve never thought of myself as a creative writer; I’ve always assumed that I wouldn’t have the talent for it, if I ever tried. But I do envy creative writers in the simple sense that they have much less pressure to make everything explicit. I am bored to tears of other people’s explanations and even more bored of having to explain myself.
I don’t pretend that my frustration is just a facet of some grander evolution in whatever we call all this. I’m sure 90% of it is idiosyncrasy. But I do suspect that the current moment in people throwing opinions at each other is uniquely hostile to any point of view that does not come with instructions. We’ve taken deliberate misreading to a level of art undreamed of by the ancients, and the penalty is death in a world where shame has become a quality of such ubiquitous and stale ambiance that people seem as resigned to it as humidity. And forgive me, I know that these narratives are always wrong, but it does seem like there’s more proud stupidity online than ever before. I know that one of the fundamental functions of broadband is to tap directly into a vein of “WELL ACTUALLY”s in general, but now half of them are just restating exactly what I just said. It is incredible how you can say “X and Y and also Z,” and have some aggressive idiot pop up to saying “WELL ACTUALLY, also Z, if you would just do some deeper research and consider it from the perspective of….” Nobody reads anything. Nobody.
But even aside from direct, basic misreading or failure to read there’s just an increasing demand that you explain every little morsel. I feel like a sommelier– “this metaphor has an oaky flavor, not too dry, pairs well with a thinkpiece about hot takes.” I hate how explicit everything I write these days is. It’s self-defense but it’s also customer service. What do you mean by this, what’s the connection here, WHERE’S THE LINK?!? I like allusive writing. I like disconnected writing. I like having to pedal for myself. And yet I feel increasingly hectored to write it in precisely the way that I would enjoy reading least. I don’t know when the expectation became that every potential reader is a simpleton but it’s tiring and insulting, particularly to the people who ask the loudest. I want to say “even the people who like me best,” but honestly it’s more like especially than even.
If I make a reference now, I fear that I have to make some sort of nod, to include a decoder ring, or be accused of plagiarism. It’s that exhausting. At this point I hate the word “citation.”
I’m more and more inclined to just tell people to do their own homework. I am not in the explainer business. The point of the question “you dig?” is first to signal that it does take real effort and second that it’s your job. You have to dig it out. If that’s not interesting to you, that’s fine; know that I’m even less interested in explaining to you than you are in working to understand me. There’s a whole world of writing out there that flatters you by assuming your fundamental idiocy. Read that, or read the other stuff, the disinterested, uncaring stuff that has no particular desire to be understood. Forget about me, in particular; just look for people who respect you enough to know that you can operate on your own. Do your homework. Wander around. Maybe we can reverse this growing editorial culture that mistakes incompleteness for failure. The writer writes the contract but the reader signs it. Sign or don’t, I don’t care anymore.
I am so bored, so hungry for the new. I wish some weird looking animal would come along.