Friday, March 16, 2007

The Power of Blogs??

Wow! I got some angry comments on my March 11 post that talked about The Spencers, the illustionists who performed at SOPAC on Saturday night. I also got a comment on the Spencer blog itself (Spencer March 14), and Mr. Spencer was a lot nicer than his fans.

I'm having a lot of reactions to this micro-mini tempest-in-a-teapot. First there is my ambivalence about blogs: I have been journalling for years, often writing pretty intense things, and my blogs are far more gregarious affairs. They are unlike my journals, and also unlike the blogs that Brother-in-law Internet Guru David Weinberger interacts with-- his blogs are mostly deep into things like internet neutrality and the meaning of blogging or straightup political stuff, with an occasional bit about the family, which is what I mostly read for.

So I began blogging experimentally, something along the lines of the journals I wrote when Joel was a baby that were aimed at public consumption, namely my mother. The only people I'm aware of who regularly read my blogs now are family and friends, and I'm certainly aware that I have readers, and to some small degree write accordingly. My friend Phyllis Moore actually turned a paragraph of one of my blogs into a poem! And Mary Sciaino sometimes sends me emails in reponse to things I blog (most recently our feelings about our kids flying in planes!). Recently, when I mentioned I went to an anti-war vigil, the excellent blogger Sherry Chandler wrote a supportive note.

What I haven't experienced is this business of offending people I never even thought would notice. I admit I wasn't thinking about the feelings of The Spencers when I wrote that blog! I was mostly just musing over my reactions to a performance in an area that is a favorite of my husband Andy's, not mine. When I comment on illusions, it's like a reader who only reads thrillers reading one of my books and asking why I don't have more action in them.

That's more or less the kind of audience I am for an illusionist.

I focused on what I enjoyed: friends in the audience, little kids' responses, trying to figure out an illusion, the performance style of Mr. Spencer. Which I praised, although I did use the phrase "full of himself." That was imprecise, a falling back into personal shorthand, the sort of thing I write in my personal journals but try to keep out of the blog. I was thinking about how you can't be a performer without a fullness of self. I know when I give talks, or even teach creative writing classes to fourth graders as I did yesterday, I am full of a kind of spirit, an energy that is like I am taking in the appreciation of the audience and somehow magnifying it.

Performing-- the relationship between a performer and audience-- interests me a lot. We went to see a performance of Shakespeare's King John the afternoon after the Spencers, and I felt it there too, me as audience member being part of the event, that wonderful magic (real magic to me) of a performance where audience and performers do it together, make it happen. And I really do think Mr. Spencer has a lot of that kind of magic.

He also seems to have some really protective fans!

1 comment:

Sherry Chandler said...

Thanks for the praise. So far, I've been lucky in avoiding controversy on my blog — in fact, sometimes I've wished my readers would be a bit more critical, more willing perhaps to hash a question over — but you raise a question I struggle with. When I "review" on my blog the work of writers I know, I try to accent the positive, though I also try not to say anything I don't think true. I worry, though, that I'll come across as a mere cheerleader or promoter. When it is some work or some one more remote, a movie or a mainstream writer, I am apt to be a bit freer. But I've been surprised — shocked even — when some of these folk have shown up in my comments. So far, nobody's been angry. But it does give one pause.