De-, And Re-, Personalization

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2023-08-31 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

I've mentioned before how one of the reasons I phased out my blogging about movies and such (and that includes Ganriki, my other big project about anime) was because I no longer felt I had anything constructive to say about the things I saw. "Constructive" also means "timely": within the first week of the release of a major project like Barbie or Oppenheimer (both of which, in a previous life, I would have written about extensively), there's such a panoply of genuinely interesting opinion that I feel like anything I'd add would just coattail onto existing viewpoints. It all felt terribly depersonalized — a term slightly to the left of what I mean, but still redolent enough of it to count. I didn't feel like I was doing any of this for my sake.

A side effect of that is a growing interest, generally, in older things that have "survived the filter", as they say. But even there I struggled to produce something that didn't feel redundant. A month or two ago I wrote a review of Kubrick's Paths Of Glory, in the wake of its 4K remaster/re-release, and I don't think there was a single insight in there that you couldn't find somewhere else. Not one truly personal opinion. I drawered it and went to bed. My time, I told myself, is better spent making original things, not talking about other peoples' things in ways that don't expand the conversation. Even my old saw about how I examined other peoples' things the better to understand my own creative work didn't hold up anymore.

But I do know that my blogging has suffered overall as a result of this. It's given me less to talk about, in this reflexive, self-conscious way. I worry too much about whether what I say will be so stunningly original, and not enough about how not saying much of anything is starving me from within of useful ideas to mull over. Maybe the problem is the format — that by not writing a formal "review", in the hard-coded layout I devised for such things, I might find more freedom to talk as I need to.

I have also found I tend to run into the same issue Harlan Ellison encountered when he was writing his Glass Teat column about TV. It seemed too easy to talk about a really good show, because for him that mostly became him saying go watch this, you'll like it. It gave him more to talk about when he took something apart, in particular something he had a problem with or outright despised, because he could link that back up to all the things he found wrong with the state of the world. As was his wont.

Maybe what I need to do is try writing more about how these things have affected my life, my creativity, and not so much about trying to just "review" them. A little introspection tells me I shied away from that approach because I thought it would seem "self-indulgent", but c'mon, it's my blog and I'll blog how I want to.

Tags: creativity reviewing