As is my habit in my neverending search of insight and understanding, I ”remoted” the appropriate numbers to “Non-Fiction Sunday” on C-SPAN2 –“202” on Time Warner Cable – hoping that my immersion in the programming would serve the dual purpose of educating me, as well as immunizing me against my conscription into more rigorous – and less desirable – activities outdoors.
(The latter is an identifiable, if unfortunate, lifelong habit; one sparkling autumn afternoon in my youth, I passed up an excursion to the country to witness Ontario’s magnificent “turning of the leaves” in favor of watching syndicated reruns of The Cisco Kid. “Brought to you by Blue Seal Bread – the freshest thing in town!”)
As luck would have it, I discovered an event featuring the acclaimed novelist, Philip Roth, who had recently announced his retirement from book writing. As I tuned in, the eminent Mr. Roth, seated behind a desk, was in the middle of rattling off an extended list of behaviors from which his departure from the fiction-writing racket had now liberated him.
As Roth ran down the lengthy litany of “I’m finished with that’s”, other than “I will no longer be talking about breasts” which for some reason caught my attention, what stuck with me most was his assertion/slash/regretful acknowledgement that, by curtailing his career as a novelist, Roth was simultaneously putting an end to the appropriation of characteristics of those around him to enrich and enliven his manufactured creations.
An option, which, for the most part, I have personally refrained from, primarily by not writing fiction. Even in “non-fiction mode”, I have maintained a reluctance to include others, declining especially – the exceptions being when I was settling a score – from delineating people in an unfavorable light.
Though this is my 1328th blog post, I can currently report that I have gone about my business in such a manner that I have been required, to date, to delete only two blog posts, because they had offended the feelings of the people I had written about. (And one of those complainants, I continue to believe, was unnecessarily hypersensitive.)
In any case, let us keep in mind then, that, concerning one thousand three hundred and twenty-six blog posts, nobody got upset. Tangible evidence of me and my consequent output being either thoughtfully considerate. Or punchlessly tame.
I would not rule out “tame”, as my, what was deemed, “soft writing” got me booted out of show business (for not writing “edgy” enough.
Still, since here I can write any way I choose, and I have proceeded in a manner that has offended only twice in one thousand and twenty-eight outings, one can justifiably categorize my “selection process of choice” as “Considerate.” (Though I may arguably be being considerate to myself by doing so.)
There is one other possibility, which one might critically though not inaccurately call the “Don’t hit me” rationale.
Living in congenital fear of a beating – of an either physical or psychological nature – it is possible that I deliberately choose a writing approach that will save face – concerning secret shameful attitudes, as well as my face.
“Do no harm, and no harm shall be done unto you.”
That is not in the Bible, but it could be. With the qualifying though less mellifluous addendum:
“Or at least it’s less likely.”
Setting explanations aside, the consequence of my selected approach is a lot of stories about me. Why? Because you don’t hit yourself – at least, rarely with a closed fist – so it’s safer. Of course, there is not necessarily one reason for a proclivity. It could also be that more benevolent explanation as well.
I am not a big fiction reader, so I don’t know if, not unlike my cousin Herschel’s silly joke: “There are two kinds of bald people – those with hair, and those without hair” – there are two kinds of writers – those who write about others, and those who write about themselves. But if you think that I annoyingly frequently locate myself at the center of the universe – and then write about it – consider the more generous possibility:
I am not being “me-gotistical.” Or cowardly.
I am simply being nice.