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Normal Is The New Black July 10, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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I don’t know when I stopped asking the hard questions. I routinely wrestled with them for over two years at Wet Bank Guide, but being angry all the time is wearing on a body. At some point, I think I just began to drift into that happy place the pollsters find us in.

Normal is a pretty tenuous concept from one end of Toulouse Street to the other. Still, just because every passing day makes it that much easier to get your New Orleans groove on does that mean we can all just forget about our unlivable Entergy bills and leaky levees, the broken streets and schools, the politicians who all seem to have a sense of decorum and propriety acquired on another planet?

Among my new regular reads is Cliff, who joins that honor roll of NOLA bloggers who stand ready to ask the questions that never seem to occur to Garland Robinette or the Times-Picayune columnists.

In his current post episode of Sitting On My Porch my favorite questions are: “Where are all the comments from angry suburban residents in Mandeville, LA threatening to leave the the Northshore because of all the corruptness in local government and law enforcement? Isn’t that why they all say they left New Orleans?” and “Mayor Ray Nagin has a 31% approval rating. His rating is 49% approval with blacks and 11% with whites. Judging by the quality of life these two groups have in the city right now, shouldn’t those numbers be reversed?”

If at least a few of Cliff’s questions don’t leave you squirming uncomfortably at your keyboard, the ones everyone in New Orleans should be asking regardless of race, then I think the new normal has gotten here just a little too soon. Remember two years ago, when there was some hope that washing the slate clean might, just might make things better?

Who am us, anyway? May 31, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, oddities, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized.
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I write about myself with the same pencil
and in the same exercise book as about him.
It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning.

— Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

I first posted this quote 8/31/06 without any comment, when this blog was lurking in a dark and lonely corner of the internets and only seen by spiders.

Who are we that write out our lives on these blogs? Some of us play out the Social Media or Citizen Journalist role, but what about those of us doing something at once much more personal and still very public? I once tossed out the term “narcissistic blogger” on a mailing list and recoiled in horror at the familiarity of the face in that mirror. Some treat these little stages we erect on the Internet as the set of the one person show of our fascinating lives (so we think, or why else would we be here?), while others take on a mask and become someone else, hiding behind the possibility of anonymity. In either event the act of public writing transforms us.

As actors of a sort who we are deep inside informs whoever we try to project on this stage–a public Self or a fabulous Character. (And our public Selves are certainly contrived Characters, keeping Mr. ID corralled and Dr. Ego’s social relationships in good trim, else the world would be littered with the bodies of murdered co-workers and a long trail of casually ravished lovers). Whoever we think we are in our blogs, the act of performing in words makes us someone new, something more than the simple sum of actor and character. “It is no longer I, but another who’s life is just beginning.”

As I said, I had posted this quote before without much comment almost two years ago. I found it online the other day while looking for something else, and chose to unearth and repost it. Do we repeat ourselves because we’ve exhausted other subjects, or because repetition is an irresistible part of life; not a circle necessarily but a spiral that clocks around an imperceptible center? I like to think the latter rather than consider myself a broken record, a tiresome bore sitting on the same stool day after day drinking the same stale beer and endlessly recycling the same stories.

I think Yeats had it wrong, at least in general. If the spiral gyre runs out from the center it is not a failure of gravity but instead the trajectory of something that has reached escape velocity, acting out a driving impulse but anchored by the mathematical center without which the curve becomes a line. Our personal trajectory through time and space is certain to be governed by some center as surely as the moon controls the tides. Toulouse Street itself is the center here, seems fairly fixed in space and time: an island in this stream we think we are admiring from the deck even as the current sweeps us away, the unseen captain spinning the unresponsive wheel and shouting frantic orders lost down the tube in the diabolical noise of engines run amok.

This is an adventure.