s m u g
net worth
by Lance Arthur


Lance: In Search of Self
(or It's All too Meta, Baby)

Editor's Note: Smug felt that in order to maintain the status quo, and to fulfill the court order to write about Personal Journaling on the web, a topic we've avoided for the last 20 months, we'd look to one of the web's leading personal diarists for some insight. In the spirit of the genre, Lance was interviewed by... himself. Lance conducted the interview alone, both as the interviewer and the interviewee. What follows is the conversation he had with himself. You can read it below or for the full experience, we suggest you hear it for yourself, by clicking one of the Real Audio links below.

 requires real audio, and totally worth your time  lucky you with the T1.  you're gonna love this.

"So, you write about..."



"And other people also writing about themselves."


"And about me."


"And I visit their sites looking for references to me writing about myself and them and them writing about what they think of me writing about myself and them."

"When you write about yourself and people write about you writing about yourself and you write about people writing about you writing them about writing about yourself, do you ever find yourself writing about them writing about you writing about them writing about yourself?"


"Oh. Do you mind if I get personal for a moment?"

"Of course not."

"When you're involved in a relationship with someone who isn't writing about themselves or about you or about you writing about them or both of you, do they ever feel like they can't get very involved and open up to you because they're afraid you'll write about them feeling that they can't talk to you because you'll write about what they're talking about to you and then write that?"

"I already wrote about that on my site."

"Oh. Um. So. Okay."

"I also wrote about writing about it, and how I felt about them feeling that I shouldn't write about it, and how I didn't write about it, and how they..."

"I think we're done with that. Have you ever written something you regretted?"

"I once wrote about feeling that I couldn't write about feeling that I couldn't write what I wanted to write and how I felt about that. Looking back, I wish I'd written about what I was feeling about feeling that I couldn't write about feeling that instead of feeling I couldn't write about those feelings."

"And how do you feel now?"

"I've since written about that, about how I felt having felt those feelings when I felt them and how those feelings made me feel then, when I wrote that. So I've moved on."

"It's been said that online journal writing is little more than an exercise in community voyeurism, that the writers involved are only concerned with themselves and each other rather than any larger issues."

"I think someone I know journalled about that."

"You're aware that 'journal' is not a verb. One cannot 'journal'."

"I don't like to get caught up in labels."

"How do you respond to that assessment?"

"Well, the whole thing about verbs and nouns and spelling and grammar, it all gets in the way of the truth. When I'm journalling, I don't blue the cognizant landscape with inchoate troddings that no one considerates to. Editing is fascist."

"I was referring to the comment about navel-gazing."

"I once wrote about another journaller writing about me writing about this issue and I basically wrote that writing online is a lot like baking a cake."

"How so?"


"How is that metaphor accurate?"

"Meta what?"

"You compared writing an online journal to baking a cake?"

"Is that Meta?"

"In terms of it being a discipline concerned with a casting a critical eye on its parent designate, no. Cake has almost nothing to do with online writ...."

"Like Entertainment Tonight!"

"Sort of but not really."

"My friend writes about that!"

"I'd like to get back to..."

"We almost decided to have an Mary Hart Web Ring, but it was just the two of us so instead we started a threaded discussion space on his pages and now we can go there and write about threaded discussions and how difficult they are to maintain and how we feel about those difficulties and threaded discussions and how that relates to our feelings about discussing threaded discussions in threaded discussions."

"But nothing about cake."

"Why do you keep harping on cake? What does that have to do with me?"

"One final question; Do you foresee a day when you'll no longer have interest in keeping an online journal?"

"You mean, will I ever grow tired of journalling?"

"If you prefer."

"Journalling is something I have to do. When I get up in the morning, I have to write about my dreams, and brushing my teeth, and how I feel about that, and sometimes I have dreams of brushing my teeth. I've made a lot of great friendships via my journal. I know everything about them and they know everything about me and I'm exploring the me of me through writing about me and them. And they know more about themselves and me and us because we write about that. Plus, you know what's really true? Sometimes people say I don't have a life because I spend so much time maintaining my journal. But if I didn't have a life, I wouldn't have anything to write about, would I? Huh? They never think of that, do they?"

"Thank you."

"I can't wait to write about this."


back to the junk drawer

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