*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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Friday, January 10, 2003

Last night at 2 a.m. I finished the excellent The Journalist and the Murderer. It is a study of the subject-writer relationship, although at bottom I think Janet Malcolm, the author, is too ready to find this relationship more sinister than other symbiotic human relationships. Nevertheless, the book contains important lessons for journalists, both traditional journalists and their modern, popular and decidedly postmodern descendants, webloggers.

Among the many quotable passages:

An abyss lies between the journalist's experience of being out in the world talking to people and his experience of being alone in a room writing. When the interviews are over and the journalist first faces the labor of writing, he feels no less resentful than the subject will feel when he reads the finished text.

Or, as Joan Didion put it, writers are always selling someone out.

Then there is this section, which I think speaks more to webloggers, who are often as much diarists and journalists:

A correspondence is a kind of love affair. It takes place in a small, closed, private space -- a sheet of paper within an envelope is its vehicle and emblem [actually, make that RFC 2822] -- and it is tinged by a subtle but palpable eroticism. When we write to someone regularly, we begin to look forward to his letters and to feel increasing emotion at the sight of the familiar envelope. But if we are honest with ourselves we will acknowledge that the chief pleasure of the correspondence lies in its responsive aspect rather than in its receptive one. It is with our own epistolary persona that we fall in love; rather than that of our pen pal; what makes the arrivial of a letter a momentous event is the occaision it affords for writing rather than reading.

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