Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Machine Ballerina

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:22 am

One of my favorite bloggers called it quits in a dramatic way. It was very Cartman. Her last post reads:

“I don’t want to write on my blog anymore. I think I’m going to take up personal correspondence instead. If you really want to know what’s going on with me, email me and ask. Or call. Or visit. I don’t like feeling like a product of mass consumption, and I don’t like being typecast, and I don’t like being analyzed, generalized, harped-upon and ignored. No more.”

Screw you guys. I’m going home.  – Trey Parker and Matt Stone, South Park

She has been writing off and on for about three years. When I mentioned it to Mike, we was very cavalier about it, “Yeah, all bloggers do that.” This surprised me. I’ve been writing every day of my life for almost as long as I can remember. My journals are boring outpourings of emotions and silliness, but they are consistent. Never once have I felt like a product of mass consumption.

Am I an afternoon’s pastime?
a thing on a string
to be thrown and retrieved
like a phone call received
on somebody’s birthday
to tease and delight
and then say goodnight
and then just say goodbye?
 – Suzanne Vega, Machine Ballerina, 2001

Will it be different because I am online? Will it be different because my journal is available to the world? Will it be different because I now have an audience? There are fifty of you out there now. What if there were fifty-thousand people reading my site every day? Would it make me feel like I was a product instead of a writer? What causes this? If it happens to every popular blogger, I need to head it off at the pass. I need a plan for this contingency.

Am I a toy on a tray ?
a soft piece of clay
queen or clown for the day
machine ballerina
soldier of tin
standing so loyal
while you sit so royal
then I’m put away?
 – Suzanne Vega, Machine Ballerina, 2001

What about the other arts? They Might Be Giants post a new song every single day on their answering machine. They call it Dial-A-Song (718-387-6962) and they consistently create every day. Did they ever have a meltdown? Was there ever a message saying, “We quit. You won’t have us to kick around anymore.” Somehow I doubt it. There might have been days when the message didn’t change. There might have been days when the message informed the callers that they were on tour. I just doubt that they ever told their audience to bug off. It doesn’t seem like their style.

Am I your Mad Magazine?
skin trampoline
pin-up pinball machine
your fantasy girl
of puzzling parts
but none fits or starts
we match wits but not hearts
I’m heard but never seen?
 – Suzanne Vega, Machine Ballerina, 2001

What about Johann Sebastian Bach? I don’t remember ever hearing the “Sod Off Concerto.” He wrote a new concerto every Sunday. His church needed new and inspirational music every week and he provided it time and time again. I’m sure there were a few weeks when they just performed an older piece or maybe the choir sang a chorale. I just doubt that Bach ever wrote the “I Hate You Ungrateful Bastards Cantata.” It doesn’t seem like his style.

For your approval,
and your possible
I’m amusing,
I’m a puppet for your play.
 – Suzanne Vega, Machine Ballerina, 2001

Guess what. It’s not my style either. If I’m going to quit, I’ll quit with grace. If I’m tired and need a rest, I’ll tell you that I’m tired and need a rest. The fact of the matter is: I AM A PRODUCT OF MASS CONSUMPTION. I’m quite proud of it, actually. Feel free to consume me. Unlike other commodities, I grow larger with mass consumption. Bring it on, baby!


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