How could I omit the epitome of a LitGeek from the lists in this blog?
The most flattering excuse probably would be that it’s an effect akin to “things we cannot touch, because they are too near”.
It took me to re-watch “V for Vendatta” last night, to wake up to a mini-epiphany this morning: Stephen Fry is one of those persons who make the world a good place to be in.
About a year ago I was very ill. Among the books and gadgets I took to hospital was Stephen Fry’s poetry book (totally underestimating what the drugs would to to my brain) and a stash of QI DVDs. I took quite a lot of things – but looking at his work was a pretty obvious choice when it came to choose “feel-good” items.
Sometimes I meet people who share my love for literature. (Though hardly ever do they enjoy modern poetry.) Sometimes I meet people who share my sense humour or my addiction to somewhat obscure films and TV series. Sometimes I meet people who are fascinated by science and technology and on very happy occations I meet people who are brimming with life, enjoying it, basking in it – no matter the circumstances. (I like to think that it’s their learned or innate mastery of “juggeling Qi”, but call it as you like, it’s a huge attraction.) Often these people are very creative. They might not be the world’s greatest painters, writers or poets, but they love what they are doing and that love celebrates life.
All of those people I met in “the real world” or online, usually focus on one or two of my interest. But then comes along Stephen Fry, who seems to be intent on being living proof that all of this can come together. Beautifully so – and without sacrificing one interest for the other.
(Not that I was ever willing to sacrifice – when I was a teen my friend and I devoured James Bond novels and the works of Richard Wagner. We also manged to get tickets to Bayreuth, causing an about 40-year span of age-difference within the group we travelled with. Btw – if anyone thinks that Star Trek fans are “odd”, they never met die hard “Wagnerianer”. There you have an awfully underestimated fan-crowd. But I digress …)
I wasn’t surprised to find Stephen Fry on Twitter. What I am surprised about the the number of entries he’s posting. Sure, he’s using the internet to get information about his work and events out there, just like many other celebrity users do. However, like Weaton and Gaiman he is participating in the stream of memes, discussions, viral videos and weird ideas, and (hopefully) enjoying this mix of self-expression and interaction.
Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton are prominent netizens when it comes to show what the internet can be: An extension of “here”. While the popular opinion still claims that “cyberspace” stands in opposition to “the real world”, they prove that the internet also can be a place to celebrate and embrace real life beyond the constraints of space and time and financial means.
When we blog, twitter, skype, mail – we are “here”, as we share our curiosity, our ideas and our happiness (and sometimes our frustration and anger).
It doesn’t matter how “exotic” your interests are, there are others who share your love – and (unfortunately, for certain members of the print media), usually those exotic tastes are nothing more than odd hobbies: obscure authors, films, photographs, collections, artwork, ideas – life, in all its colours. And just like everywhere, life, occasionally is lewd, not fit for children and shocking to some and boring to others.
The digital “here” is an enhancement of world in which we live our lives. The world in which terrible things happen and which still is great and wonderous and full of amazing people, coming together “there”, and ever often “here”. That “here” allows us to take our friends and community members wherever we go. So to add a totally gratuitous Doctor Who line: It’s the “You are not alone” that makes all the difference between being isolated and ‘comfy, though not in the same room’.
My parents still have most their friends living close by, or at least in the same country. My generation seems to be restless, scattered all over the globe – sometimes we first met online, sometime we first met in a pub. But it leaves us with acquaintances in almost every place we go – and with friends whom we can take with us, when we have to go to places we didn’t choose: To foreign cities, countries and sometimes to hospital or confinement of our own home.
Some of these friends became close friends, others are acquaintances and some are simply putting their art, life and skills on display, without much engagement with their audience. The important thing is, they make us feel better, inspire us, help us re-adjusting our moral and idiological compasses – and bring together people who like the same things.
There is so much talk about the ugly sides of the internet. It’s time we talk more about its wonders again.
(And I better stop here, before this entry moves even further from its original topic and becomes a discussion of online audiences and the OTW.)