Monday, July 20, 2009

Sick Filth, Unbanned

The final stretch of The Writing Class is taking much longer than I anticipated, and not for the uusal reasons (such as fixing massive plot holes, logical inconsistencies or unbelievable events, all of which are of course present in my manuscript but are part of the fucking art, you philistines) - work has overtaken me lately, with a sudden change in responsibilities and a ramp in hours. Not that I mind - I'm a workaholic, as many a perfectionist tends to be, and overtime is always welcome in a recession - but it has left little time for writing, editing, drinking or running. And those are my bestest things.

Another thing that has distracted me lately is 4chan, which is hard to explain or justify (Encyclopedia Dramatica will do a better job than I can - by the way, neither of these is safe for work, and possibly not safe anywhere else either: you've been warned) but is, in short, a barrel of thousands of screaming ids from which memes and hatred and occasional moments of sublime comedy and honesty slop out, like a prison bucket after cabbage soup day. For somebody like me, interested in language and the dividing line between superego and id (and who has been researching transsexuals a lot recently in preparation for the next-but-one novel), 4chan is a fascinating thing, a community with no names or communal spirit, a frantically-evolving language and no moral qualms about, well, anything. Everybody says they don't care what people think about them, and everyone is lying: but 4chan gives your demons a place to play, to shriek of their prejudices and spew their mindless hate without ever having to watch what they say because, honestly, it doesn't matter, not here. In the real world it's essential for the survival of society, relationships and the genus that you rise above your base urges - it's what makes us human, to be better than our first, selfish thoughts - but in 4chan it's not.

The wider internet, of course, sees a mixture of the two, which is what makes it so intolerable. Go to any forum on any subject and some people will be uncontrolled rage-filled animals, others sensible and considered humans, and the bad feeling that those boards inevitably create comes from the impossibility of reconciling the two species. Just as real life provides a blessed relief (the BNP notwithstanding) from such conflict, so does 4chan, in the opposite sort of way. You can't reconcile the reptile brain with higher consciousness. Don't try. God and Satan are at war for a reason, and each goes home to His own realm to get a break from all that. That's as it should be.

After my Hannah Montana experiment last month I find myself very occasionally longing for the DVD of the movie, before I catch myself thinking these unauthorised thoughts and mentally flogging it out of me, if never quite completely. I must be at that age where 'purple' and 'fun' and 'cheerful' have stopped being twee and pathetic and started being comforting. Age is a terrible thing.

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