The Seventh and a Half Floor Elevator Operators’ Union

Let’s talk about the persona. Which is nothing new. The face I present to you isn’t my own face. How close? It’s hard to say.

What the writer in the 21st century networked economy offers is “face time.” Access and ease of use with the materials of one’s life. A small door, like the one on the seventh and a half floor in Being John Malkovich. (A prescient movie about the court of minor celebrity if there ever was one.)

There is always ejection, though, if not rejection (and maybe not as gracelessly as next to the NJ Turnpike). The openness is almost always a closed system. The “life of the writer” is offered as a secret system. Biographical material-whether whimsical or serious-are ice floes going forward on a madly rushing river. One blink and it’s farther downstream.

Writing, and by extension reading, is supposed to teach us how to pay attention. But is it valuable to pay attention to our own distractions? No matter how charming they may be? Why are particular tones taken as opposed to others?

The flesh and blood of interior thought. The rising motions and crestfallen frustrations. Their revelations are only another way to hide them. In plain sight.

It’s silly, for one, to think that fiction writers aren’t cultivating their personas as fictions. It is, after all, what they’re good at. None of this is a cause for chagrin, really. The essaying rumblings still can move us. But it’s good to wonder whether the writer is the incarnation or the persona? Which gives birth to the other?

In other words, reader, I can’t give you what you already possess. It’s already yours. “In a letter from the 1970’s, JH Prynne compares himself to a tree in a forest and asks why he should give the reader an axe.” (source) The power to create whatever meaning you choose has always been in your hands, and this is true no matter what the type of sentence.

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