Do they know who to be or what to do when they aren’t being something to others?

Another New York Times poster said don’t worry about the attention. If your art is good, it will naturally draw attention—focus on the process. But this Emily character really wants the attention. I mean, here she is, writing a long piece for NYTimes about how she felt exposed and how her boyfriends didn’t want her to write about them. It’s like that back-and-forth sniping—the only way to end it is to not respond. And that whole weird blog community, and the weird NYC young ambitions editor/writer community, that’s weird and sad to me.

Julia Allison, Emily Gould—those young women (of whom, according to another Gawker post I stumbled across, there are many more number than men—about 200K more single women than men in NYC region, according to a map at that Gawker post), these young women and their race to be famous—they seem innocent and sweet, vaguely, when profiled (as Allison was a few weeks ago, as “the next Carrie Bradshaw” from “Sex & City”) or published (as Gould was). They seem like normal, sweet sorts whose ambition is a little misguided, but a healthy attempt. But then when I go to the blogs and the Gawker site (which is always highly critical—snarky—and cynical, taking down anyone who succeeds as talentless and/or well-connected), these women don’t seem that innocent at all. They don’t seem like innocent strivers but a form of self-creating person, self-promoting, endlessly self-promoting, and willing to do almost anything—date the right people, break up with long-standing boyfriends—to “make it.”

Surely those self-creating people have existed in (after moving to) cities for generations, but it’s just so different from people here in small towns. It’s such a different value code than what I grew up to think is admirable, natural and healthy. [My friend] Doug said Paris Hilton has succeeded in getting fame for herself, which, in her world, may be quite the accomplishment. I mean, clearly money and lifestyle and connections aren’t important to get—she already has those—and maybe these NYC bloggers & socialites are the East Coast version. And yet there just seems something so unhealthy to me about this whole thing.

I mean, one way of looking at my project, my process, is to say that I’ve been wanting to strip away artifice and myth and image and all that isn’t essential (not that such a process is original to me—it’s the Descartes method, it’s basic philosophy point of view or starting point), and here these people mostly are trying to exactly create artifice, inhabit image and myth, and to become what they are not. They want to become larger than life—famous—and they want to define and (as is so often used as a verb lately) brand themselves—which Sartre (philosopher) said was bad faith.

Here’s the thing (as time runs short): these people who spend so much time working to present themselves to others in a particular way—how do they even take downtime? Do they know who to be or what to do when they aren’t being something to others? (Of course, in my truth search, I forget to take downtime, too—but it’s so easy for me to let go, to not have much artifice.) Perhaps all our social life, our public selves, are something of artifice, of habit—but, jeez, we’re not selling these selves, not making our livelihood this way.

[From journal of Fri. 23 May 2008, 5:43 a.m., Journal 100, page 50-2]

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