In my last entry I commented that I wasn’t interested in reading poetry that dwelled on the horrors of Vietnam or on literature that just portrayed the horrors of child abuse. I want the books I read to go beyond the simple revelation of such horrors. I expect them to inspire me or, at the very least, to give me new insights into the problems.
Shelly, commented “But I think your desire, if that’s the proper word, to see the ugliness gently wrapped in a ‘positive’ outcome and amidst lovely poetry does somewhat of a disservice to those who are still having difficulties with their own ‘stories’. Should they just then keep their stories to themselves?” My reply was that it was a personal choice on my part to look for literature that inspired me to do better than I am already doing, to overcome my weaknesses rather than give in to them.
Strictly speaking, Shelly’s later comment revoked this comment, but, like any perceptive comment, it got me thinking about what I really expect from literature and whether I expect the same from bloggers.
I suspect that I put literature on a pedestal. In a very real sense, it has taken the place of religion for me, and, just as I would not attend a church where the sermons depressed me with a constant emphasis on sin and damnation, I won’t return to an author who depresses me or fails to inspire me to go beyond my limits.
Perhaps it seems strange, then, that I don’t apply the same standard to the blogs I visit. While alot of the blogs I link to do focus on a positive view of the world, some of my favorite bloggers go through periods of depression, just as I did after my recent surgery.
I certainly don’t try to avoid these blogs when the writers are depressed. Instead, I’m usually moved to offer my condolences or make encouraging remarks. Sometimes I even check back more often than usual to find out how the writer is doing.
Some might argue that is because I’m not paying to visit their page, but I don’t think that’s the difference. In a very real sense I consider the people whose blogs I visit regularly “friends,” or at least “virtual friends.”
And friendship places different demands on you than buying a book does. When I heard that a old friend from school was suffering from depression, I immediately contacted him, even though I hadn’t seen him for years. I couldn’t imagine doing less. I wanted to help him through that depression because he was a friend.
Despite the fact that my blog focuses on literature, particularly poetry, I value friendship far more highly than literature.