Sunday, January 11, 2009


I wonder, "Where is the thought?" "Where is the contemplation?"

I’ve had so many ideas, so many thoughts I wanted to write about and I’ve ended up with one sentence deletion after another. Ideas and concepts bombard me so rapidly that I don’t have time to process them or even create something meaningful out of them. So I’m attempting to create meaning out of the madness.

I look at people. I try to imagine their lives – work, eating, television, Internet, family and social connections and stress. I fail.

Last night, I attended a birthday party of one of JulieAnn’s friends from high school. It was a party, a celebration. I really didn’t know anyone there very well. All of the party accouterments were present, including a live band, shrimp and cocktail weenies (of the human and pork vanities) and rumor had it a comedian was going to come and perform later. I mourned me inability to simply relax into the frivolity. I couldn’t do it. I had nothing to say. I had nothing to contribute to the party euphoria.

This is when I lapsed into trying to figure out the people I was observing. I had the same thing happen to me the night before at an Italian restaurant, Zucca, near our house. My thoughts on the human condition intruded on my ability to enjoy the Margherita pizza, as I marveled at the sociality of my fellow humans.

I’ve never been much of a social animal, preferring to remain on the outside looking in, but I also crave to belong and be part of the crowd. I would like to be able to lose myself at a rock concert, banging my head in time with the moshing masses. I would like to immerse myself in the birthday party, dance and sing and speak of what? What were people talking about? I’m inarticulate and unable to speak the language of Party.

Music seems to be a mechanism for forming these communities and music hasn’t effected me much since my adolescence. Heavy metal gives me a little teen testosterone memory, but the music of parties baffles me – you can’t communicate over the noise. Karaoke baffles me. I can’t connect without words. The music that moves me is often in the words (ala Leonard Cohen), more than the rhythm, beat or melody. My I-pod is filled with spoken words, not music, an Apple aberration.

I want to connect to people. I want a society, a group to which I belong, but I don’t. I ache for a community like the Beats (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Snyder) or the literary cliques in Paris in the 20s (Joyce, Hemingway, Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Co.) or 30s (Miller and Nin) or D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe in New Mexico.

Technology seems to offer an opportunity for such connections, but then I go back to my gaze at the crowd at the party and at the restaurant. There is a small likelihood I’ll connect at any level with those crowds through technology. In fact sprinkling my blog post with references to Apple, Microsoft and Amazon is more likely to get me a connection that anything I might write in a blog post, but I’ll be connecting with a computer, analyzing what I write for marketing purposes.

Yet, I hope. I feel connected reading. Books have always been the connective tissue joining me to the outside world. Occasionally, I’ve had the thrill of being connected by my writing and a reader who acknowledged the connection. The connection of words is the language I understand. I don’t understand the language of rock concerts or parties. I’d rather batter an idea with someone than smack at a pinata. I struggle with the banter of social websites, but crave legitimate debate and discussion.

I’m going to go to my Facebook page now. When it asks me what I’m doing, I’m going to tell it I’m thinking.