April 26, 2002

Today everybody seems to be linking to Heather Havrilesky’s Salon article with the appropiate title: One ring to rule them all. This comes as no surprise, as she is the one who made suck.com’s writing so funny and who now runs one of the very best blogs ever written, the one with the embarrassing URL (tinylittlepenis.com, thus the title of this post), the one and only rabbit blog. So just imagine a writer of this magnitude writing about the show of the moment, The Bachelor on abc. She gets the angle right, she spells it out. She creates “wedding porn”, she made me laugh. She made me laugh by writing in a style Karl Marx would have been proud of, a style so dense and complex it feels like reading a collection of new mathematical formulas at times. I know it is me. I know that I am far from mastering this language of the most abundant vocabulary, so I do not want to complain.
Heather’s great accomplishment in the article is to translate certain aspects of Americana which I am still only able to observe with my jaw dropped, quite surprised how this place with these rules can call itself the “land of the free”. A German friend once said, (and I am quoting him, because quoting myself just feels narcissistic this second): “We do not date in Germany, we have relationships”. Can you imagine?
What is going on in America, why do people even agree to this strange square dance called dating?, what is it all about?, the first date, the second date, the third date. The first base, the second base, the you know what. All the rituals seem so scripted. When watching the last episode of “the Bachelor” (unbelievable, but I actually watched it...), it became clear again, that there is this reality track to the life of some young Americans and then there is this scripted straight from television emotional track, which just can not be real, it must have been bread in General Hospital, or on All My Children. Dr. Phil?, can you translate in your rude, simplistic way? There is so much talk about feelings and emotions, and love, while it all feels like nothing more but the build-up for the next commercial break, a shopping break, some other gender pre-programmed break. The language that can be used to express anything in American English can be intensely beautiful and very complex. What some use as the language for their inner most feelings to themselves, internally, is just this bland, pidgin English, a mutilated NeoVictorian zombie.
Remember the jokes about the Taliban dating scene that made their rounds on the web during the high time of anti foreign infotainment? Have you seen Barbara Walters being amazed that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive and the 20 Minute Commentary on how one of the students she interviewed did not want to shake her hand because she was a woman? (Mind you, she was not surprised that he was able to explain exactly why he did not want to shake her hand in perfect English).
How free are women in America really? Is the ability to drive really instantly freedom? Is the ability to choose over a vast amount of cosmetic products really the peak of liberation? How far are we really if many of the most intimate thoughts many American women might have today are scripted by the writers of the large Entertainment networks. (Male thoughts are often scripted by owners of small entertainment Web-sites.)
I remember growing up in Poland, when the only advertising in the streets were the red banners on bridges, promising the completion of the five year plan and the grand campaigns to celebrate the 1st of May and the anniversary of the great October Revolution. But the minds of people seemed to go against the grain. There was a freedom in the heads of at least the people I knew. Something that ultimately led to the Solidarity movement, and to the liberation of Poland, the demolition of the Berlin Wall. The totalitarian systems rarely owned the souls of their people. It might all have looked pretty scary from the outside, but we had some really creative fun.
The “freedom” as we now know it, seems to be a sugar coated set of rules written onto the very thin membranes of the inner parts of the soul. There will be generations after us that are going to laugh about us, (unless Laughter will become unaffordable, of course.) I promise.
This post is getting out of hand, isn’t it? I am not organized enough as a writer to make my idea clear.
I guess the core of freedom is that I am able to write all this, that I am able to publish it, and that the only reaction I might get from doing so will be an angry email, or some tiny comment, and not 10 years in prison. So God bless America for that.
As far as emotional freedom goes in America, I sometimes get the Angst that is not much of it left in the open or anywhere. Maybe the American dream does not leave room for tender love and care (unless they are a music trio)... Maybe the economy just urgently needs to breed consumers, not people. Maybe this is the price that some of us need to pay in order to live in a place that can be open 24/7 7/11 with overnight delivery, free shipping, no tax...
Hmm... As I am writing this, somebody has lit some 50 candles in their bedroom across the street... Maybe it is all just some strange vision I am having. Do you date?, what are the mating rituals where you live?, how would you describe the emotional state of your surroundings. As most readers of this blog seem to be email harvesting robots, the answers might not appear as comments below this post.
And one more thing... The German model is certainly no solution, neither is the Polish one and we should all be glad that the Taliban does not allowed to oppress women in Afghanistan, for sure.
Thank you Heather Havrilesky. You made me write all this really strange stuff. I am going to now just link to your blog and stick to the things I know something about. Nothing. : )

Posted by Witold Riedel at April 26, 2002 11:57 PM

dating is like crushes
I dont' do crushes :) not anymore, they require a goal, an ending, some place to get to....
the other day I told my teacher, when he asked me... I said... no I do not have a crush, I prefer to just like a person, he then asked me, what is the difference,
and I couldn't explain very well, except crushes reduces somehow somewhere a person to just a tiny percentage of who they are, at least in your view because of the goal issue, whereas if you just like someone as a person, things are so much simpler and perhaps even more genuine.

still researching :)

Posted by: T on September 7, 2002 10:16 PM
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