lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

To thine ownself be true

Altogether original song audition (6)*

We live our lives in the world, but do we wear our hearts on our sleeves all the time? We all have personas, façades and veneers. It is how we insulate ourselves when we interact with the world. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is armour, but it is as a defense mechanism that we develop our personalities and mannerisms. We present a person to the world that is not always, wholly and entirely, the true being. Our real lives are lived behind our eyes, in our heads. But on the whole, most of the time, we interact honestly with the world, real or virtual. Or so I thought.

I have been accused of many things, but this was a first.

In a conversation, a reader of my blog opined that I was inscrutable on my blog, while being apparently transparent. My posts on crosswords maybe obscure but I am a straightforward person, I'd have thought, I said. Not so, said the reader. The reader said that I was impersonal and added that I wore a cloak of urbane geniality as armour.

This made me think. Admittedly, first of a clue featuring an ancient city and a curse, (Nemesis! old city at first is sophisticated; old city toff pressing, no, that is urgent and so on and so forth) but then I pondered some more. Okay, about Humpty Dumpty and what Carroll meant by 'impenetrability' and all that. And then I thought further.

I am not an anonymous blogger, after all. I don't hide behind a clever alias and avoid association of my blog with my real life. I blog as myself. I write about things that interest me, things that occupy my mind at the moment. So why does that reader think I am inscrutable and hide behind a façade? That I write impersonally, and not about things that really mattered to me?

It did not occur to me to opt for pseudonyms or anonymity when I signed up with Blogger. After all, I'd been there and done that, in the ancient past; it doesn't work. I signed up as myself, Lalita Mukherjea, spelt with an 'a' at the last.

When I started out blogging, I was going to talk only of crosswords, and the joys of solving clues. Then I found there were other things I wanted to talk about. I talk about language, relationships, pet hates and more. I talk "of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings", more or less. Surely I am revealed as a person in all this? Every word I write reveals me, to those who can discern it.

There are bloggers who write about their lives, so do I. There are bloggers who rant and ride hobbyhorses. So do I. There are bloggers who write occasional fiction and poetry. So do I. There are bloggers who write scathing political commentary, who write about weighty issues. I have no opinions there, except to quote Shelley and Tilton and say these things pass.

There are bloggers who write about their sex lives, love lives, and tribulations of daily lives. That is their choice. It's a free world. I prefer to write about words and crossword clues and conversations at Chez Em every now and then.

The reader said my blog gave no clues as to what I think, if I am happy or sad or mad. Why should it? How much a blogger reveals of herself to her readers is a matter of personal choice, surely? If I don't talk about the scalding I received in a careless moment in the kitchen but prefer to talk about the wicked clue I solved today, that is my prerogative, surely?

This is a matter of privacy in a public arena. We are, on the whole, faceless voices on the blogosphere. Granted, some bloggers posts pictures and reveal a lot about themselves. They talk of their lives in great detail. Granted, too, that there are bloggers who are totally anonymous and prefer to stay that way. Then there are the via media bloggers like me, who blog as themselves, but keep private life just that.

Talking this over with friends, I found several views. A friend said that I write a very personal blog, and all that I am is clearly seen. He added that transparency is different from maintaining a divide between the blog and private life.

Political bloggers, bloggers who write on social issues and comment on news and events, bloggers who blog about their fields of expertise can be detached and impersonal; but personal blogs like mine are expected to be intimate and confessional, said another friend. A 'Dear Diary' style, she called it. She added that my blog is subtle even while being personal.

Another said that readers expect some glimpses into the private life of the blogger, want to know more about the real person and opined that this could be the reason why my reader said I was impersonal even as I was seemingly transparent, that he or she wanted to know me, blogger and real person in entirety.

So what is at issue here is the level of privacy. Being honest and transparent is one thing, but confessional mode of blogging is not my cup of tea. I have a persona, I am Lali and Missus Em and Grammar Nazi, maybe, but that is not all I am. So, does Missus Em pick her nose? Does she use Q-tips? Are these things she wants to talk about? It is hard to imagine an avid readership waiting to hear about these things.

We have our woes, we have our sorrows; we have our curses and duties and burdens. Some people may choose to blog about such. I'd rather talk about the latest clue that gifted me a moment's joy and laughter. If I want to tell the world my life story, I will write an autobiography. I won't blog about it.

I was going to use polytetrafluoroethylene as the title of this post, then desisted because my husband's software will have trouble pronouncing it. So there, dear reader who quibbled about Teflon veneer, you have another datum.




Blogger Priya said...

Not that you owe anyone an explanation, but glad you blogged about it. How we blog and what we blog about is our discretion. We do try and serve to please, but those who aren't pleased, are free to seek pleasure elsewhere.

12:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That reader's remark got your goat, it is clear. Curiosity is inevitable, Lali.

(See, I desisted from Auntie Lali)

2:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our real lives are lived behind our eyes, in our heads. So true. Even with our nearest and dearest we are not the same person we are in our heads.

This is a rather disgruntled post, Lali. That reader must have struck a nerve. See, curiosity is inevitable as Rajesh says.

9:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hamlet (III, ii, 239).

You are right, though.

10:03 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Priya- Right you are, darling, we blog about what we blog about, take it or leave it, like it or lump it.

Rajesh, Ash- Yes, that rankled, allusion to Teflon, it did.

Hehhh- Brilliantly Googled, Amman allows. Whatever. I am always right in my PoV, no?

10:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did, once upon a time blog, by the real name I am known by...Slowly it kind of stopped to matter or maybe it dawned on me that perhaps the comments are influenced by the knowledge, though very few people who knew me actually commeneted!! So the pseudonym ..

This post reminds me strongly of something i wrote when I made the switch ...

Nameless words,
Faceless name,
I stake a claim ..

8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And with that
I totally agree
My blog is my turf
My posts, my decree ..

8:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice rant ... look forward to reading your auto-bio .. if you write one that is ...

10:15 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Alien- I don't have a problem with anonymous blogging as such. You are right about wondering if the comments are influenced by knowledge of the person, though.

Why are you such versifier?

Ram- *snort* Not likely. But yeah, rant is what the post was.

5:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if that gets BORING.. i am trying to gag those instincts!!

5:27 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Alien- Oh no, don't. I like it. I can't do verse that easily, so I was just being envious.

5:49 pm  

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