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Sunday, April 18, 1999
By Paul Ford
Talking, talking back, and so on. Taking it all too seriously.
Occasionally I get strange email from Ftrain readers. Today came this advisory slice:
"the world is a lot bigger place than you allow yourself to believe."
That's all there was to it, one line, sent anonymously, submitted twice. The writer expounds upon my life for a span of 13 words, without a clear rhetorical strategy. He or she or it read over the sentence five or six times before clicking the "send" button, making sure the sentiment was accurate, then decided that I needed to hear this. I wonder what effect it is supposed to have?
I mean, I saw The Matrix too.
It's great to receive these things, which I both laugh at and listen to. I get many of them, people trying to contextualize my life into their own, throwing me odd, uncredited lines of criticism, or long, long emails about their sex lives, or their anger with me, or their jealousy. I always feel a little sad for anonymous emailers, who fear placing a name with their emotions or ideas--afraid to be wrong, perhaps, or dreading a response. Sending anonymous email has even more pathos than online journaling.
I'm sure the writer is right, and the world is much bigger than I believe, or allow myself to believe. Who can live in the whole world? I can't take East Timor into myself, or the scope of French literary theory, or the poverty and extreme riches of India and Pakistan, or the full emotional needs of even one other human being. I can't hold onto the concept of Allah without slipping, while the bearded man in the little corner store on Smith St. has no problem telling me that God is great as as I buy a bottle of diet soda.
Right now the world is 3:54 AM--but only 1/24th of it. My back itches, and it's time to work on something else.