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Enjoy every sandwich

April 4, 2010

“If you’re killed in the Matrix, you die here?”

“The body cannot live without the mind.”


Well as far as I know we have not reached that level of interconnectedness with the machines yet, but I admit I’m not current with the research of DARPA, (who really is?), ergo that particular end may very well be nigh. However as I hibernated this past February, disconnected from the cyberspace, it occurred to me that I may have appeared to be dead to my purely Matrix-ish friends. If the bond was just blog posts and facebook and email and I generated none of that, how could they be confident I was not deceased?

Then I thought, many humans do not consider death as being very real or near to them personally, until it’s there. This may be a beneficial psych defense reroute program at work or/and maybe our Western culture lives “in the moment” more than I had previously believed. Topics all for later thought.  But if my friends did consider the possibilities, then I was passively acting the jerk.  As Bill says between sips of anejo, “. . . letting someone think someone they love is dead when they’re not is quite cruel.” And while my levels of love and deception don’t quite match theirs at that particular moment, I can see his point and I agree.

At the beginning of last month, as I scraped up the energy to go back inside The Suite, a similar existential mystery had been solved for me. News was crackling ’round the net about the fate of the Blogger Cyberly Known as Jon Swift, aka Al Weisel in his fleshy existence.  His was one of the first blogs I became fascinated with. He had presented the personality of a staunchly loyal, conservative right-wing blogger.  His sub-header set the blogtone,

 “ I am a reasonable conservative who likes to write about politics and culture. Since the media is biased I get all my news from FOX News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues.”

And the satire was awesome.  Jonathan Swift, is the old school standard for such writing of course, a fine example of how to really use a printing press to shake things up.  The Gutenberg Bible left much corrective work to be done after all. Jon Swift was a worthy acolyte of his namesake, appropriate to our times. Among many opinions he published, I was encouraged by his advice to call girl-outed, former Governor of NY Eliot Spitzer; Tiger Woods should have read that one before his return press conference a few weeks ago. And I appreciated his list of Top Ten Conservative Movies and his take on the social upheaval caused by the misunderstood ending to The Sopranos.  Al practically always remained in character while blogging as far as I could tell.  He even wrote, as Jon Swift, a eulogy for Steve Gilliard, a blogger Jon Swift certainly must have had many issues with, and he makes it touching and funny and philosophically consistent with seeming ease of effort.

The mystery started with Jon’s last post in March 2009, a serious short sentence about a real world death. Then silence for almost a year. Reading the blogs on my link page occasionally I would come across a commenter who would reference Jon Swift and his missed bloggy perspective but I never got a hint that anyone actually knew what had happened.  Had his friend’s tragedy hit too close to home? Was he tired, completely written out? Was he ill? Too ill to post a single word explaining his farewell. I was mystified but eventually realized it must happen every day out here in the web; bloggers stop posting, virtual people die; blogging goes on.  “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”  And so it goes.

But I kept going back again and again to his last comment thread because people continued to put up brief notes of concern and best wishes, like they were laying flowers on a friend’s grave.  It was touching to witness this behavior and made me feel a little bit better about being human.

I found myself in there one morning last month just after Al’s mother left a comment explaining the recent aortic aneurysms her son had suffered on the way to his father’s funeral. He didn’t survive the emergency operations. The story and more comprehensive eulogy by Tom Watson are here.

I’ve always thought I’d like to check out swaddled in tragic irony myself. Death layered over death. One shovel of dirt tossed upon another. And so it definitely goes.

Anyway on the day day after celebrating the greatest fool’s day prank ever played, (I can’t prove it happened in April I know, but in reality, no one can prove it happened at all) I raise a glass of whiskey in honor of all Swifts and Weisels whether and wherever they exist or not.  

“The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.”     —  William Butler Yeats.

 And they float through the cyber ether now too, while they can; WB, please keep up.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ruth permalink
    April 5, 2010 4:54 pm

    This is very touching & sad. I must say, I always worry when my favourite bloggers disappear.

    Maybe next time you disappear you could do like Granny Weatherwax in the Terry Pratchett books and put up a post headed “I aten’t dead”

    On a more serious note, the real Dr Jonathan Swift’s prank (the Bickerstaff Prophecies) was quite cruel, although I admire the mastery & thoroughness of its execution, I don’t think I’d have quite the ruthlessness to carry it out.

    There is always a hint of cruelty behind satire. And yet the author of this prank was such a lovely, gentle person in real-life.

    • April 6, 2010 9:57 am

      Not familiar with Granny Weatherwax, but love her name.

      I’m toying with idea of pre-writing my own obituary and farewell post and leaving it on file with instructions on how to publish it after the wake. My sister recoiled aghast when I mentioned this.

      Yeah, I guess I agree, as Bickerstaff, Swift was vicious but Partridge was not entirely undeserving of the abuse being “A cobbler, starmonger, and quack”. Those cobblers wear me out.

      And I have no qualms with the philosophy of the lovely, gentle person; it’s the Legacy of the prank I could do without.

  2. Ruth permalink
    April 5, 2010 4:59 pm

    I think the difference between humour and satire lies in that hint of cruelty. It is possible to be funny without being cruel. However satire requires a certain edge of cruelty. Sometimes it is necessary (particularly re. public figures). However generally, I prefer humour.

    • April 6, 2010 12:47 pm

      I’m of the mood, and the lack of time, to borrow from others.

      Satire is focused bitterness” —- Leo Rosten

      Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful” —- Molly Ivins

      And while I’m at it . . .

      “There’s no life without humour. It can make the wonderful moments of life glorious, and it can make tragic moments bearable” —- Rufus Wainwright, son of Loudon the III

      ” It is well known that Beauty does not look with good grace on the timid advances of Humour.”
      —– W. Somerset Maugham
      Evidently Maugham just did not live long enough to meet you Ruth

      As you can see my motto is cribbed from Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak softly but carry a big Bartleby’s”

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