January 11, 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

I’m trying to think of something modest and appropriate to write.

Nothing occurs.

I just started a new job with the State of California, and my mom thinks I’m going to get fired for what I’m writing here, especially if I post links on Facebook.  Remind me not to accept any friend requests from Jerry Brown.

 It’s funny how thinking about who’s reading something changes the balance of things.  I like to write “Dear Max” because you stand in for intelligent life in the universe.  In the nicest possible way, you don’t care.

There’s  something wonderfully impersonal about words on the page.  I would never talk to a friend (let alone my mom) about my sex life.  It would just embarrass us both.  Writing is different.  All you have to do is stop reading, and (this is the beauty part) you don’t have to respond.  It is wonderfully, blessedly unsocial.

But when you write what sounds like talk, it gets confusing.  It sounds social, but it isn’t. 

I’m getting myself horribly confused.  But I do think what I love about reading, especially books that are just talk, is that it’s solitary but also intimate (don’t like that word),  and absolutely not social.  There’s no give and take.  For a reader, it’s all take.  Or better yet, take it or leave it.  You’re free.

I guess the problem is you can’t have it both ways.  You write on a social medium, you’re social.  I want to be read by hordes of adoring strangers.

One of the hundreds of reasons I adore Boswell is that he didn’t have a modest bone in his body.  He was shameless.  Bless him.