Wednesday, June 9, 2010

so tell me who are you

Does any here know me? [Why] This is not Lear:
Does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied -- Ha! [sleeping or] waking? {Sure] 'tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?

I had a weird thought recently, while I was cutting the grass. I do most of my deep thinking then; either then or right before bed, and I usually forget whatever brilliant idea I came up with before blissful sleep.
Anyway, I began thinking about a Nike ad starring Harold Miner, an NBA star of almost zero consequence in the 1990s. The ad was from early in his career, when Miner was tabbed as the Next Big Thing in American sports.
The commercial — which I could not find anywhere on the Web, and I looked — features Miner, practicing basketball in a gym by himself. At some point he turns to the camera and says something to this effect:
"Starting my career, I didn't know who I wanted to be. Didn't know if I wanted to be the next Michael Jordan, or the next Magic, or the next Dr. J. ... So I decided to become the first Harold Miner."

Writing for a living is a bizarre business. One of the things we learn in journalism school very early on is that a writer's personal feelings are not supposed to be involved in a story. What matters is telling a story through the eyes of the people who lived it. Nothing less, and certainly nothing more.
The end result, weirdly, is that writers often lack a sense of self. Every conversation we share, every social anecdote, either has to do with someone else's story, or someone else's reaction to a story we wrote (that was, of course, about someone else). Recently I was at a County Commission work session and one of the Commissioners turned to me and asked, "What do you think?"
I shook my head. "I'm here to write down what y'all think. What I think doesn't matter."
In essence, that's what happens when you write for a living.

Does this explain why I've been away from this blog for such a long time? Partially. Look, a lot has happened this year, and it's not even half over yet. My favorite team (and alma mater) won a national championship in my favorite sport. One of the regular commenters on this blog — and, going back, one of the regular commenters on any blog I ever had — suffered an untimely death. The two people who hired me to my current company quit with little to no explanation, casting an everyday shadow over our office (is today the day? Tomorrow? How much longer do we get to keep working here?).
So maybe I reached a point with the Party where it felt less like a party, and more like an obligation. And even though I do feel an obligation to anyone who might read me on a regular basis, this isn't work, and it shouldn't feel like it.

All that to say: here goes nothing. Again. With Alabama's baseball team now 2 wins away from the College World Series, the Celtics and Lakers hooking up in the NBA Finals and football season still 3 full months away, I'm ready to make a less-than-triumphant entry. We'll continue to do what we do here: air our thoughts on the world as we see fit, in the process (hopefully) speaking for the rational, level-headed, non-reactionary fan of sports and life in general.

And, now that we've got our teary-eyed reunion out of the way, here's a video of two guys from "Glee" singing a song from "The Wizard of Oz."


Jerry Hinnen said...

Glee would be much better off including a few more numbers like that one and a lot less overstuffed pop-tripe karaoke garbage.

Peter said...

Glee? Glee? must not judge, must not judge ... and to think, I feel bad about the occasional Handy Manny reference.

I hear you about the lack of a sense of self. I often find myself as a minister trying to hear people so much that it's difficult to say much of consequence. The model of "pastor as counselor," when taken to an extreme, can be pretty debilitating if I can't ever offend anyone.

We were told repeatedly in seminary to only practice exegesis (bring out what the text says into our experiences) in looking at passages, to never practice eisegesis (reading our experiences into the passage). I was encouraged when I first started preaching, however, to just accept the fact that there's always some degree of self mixed into my sermons - I'm always gonna be biased, I'll always be eisegeting the text.

Academia fails us when we take it too seriously in its worship of the objectivity that in fact is functionally impossible. Good luck coming back to being biased like the rest of us.