Category Archives: Stuff on the web

Lessons in Love and Life from Jonathan Franzen

“There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of.”

Once again, there I was on metafilter when I stumbled across something interesting.  Go figure.  This time, it was an excerpt from a commencement speech at Kenyon College (printed in the opinion page of the NYT) written by author Jonathan Franzen (Freedom) about technology and narcissism and love and life.

Franzen talks about the “liking” phenomenon sweeping the world, thanks to Facebook.  We all want to “like” things, and we want people to “like” us.  “If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are.”


Image by -= Bruce Berrien =- via Flickr

We want to be loved for who we are, and yet we rarely show our true selves to people, especially at the beginning of a romantic relationship.  We try to be perfect, to be who the person wants us to be, or who we think the person wants us to be.  We don’t lose our temper when someone cuts us off on the road.  We cook gourmet dinners.  We obviously don’t burp or fart or poop, because we don’t do any of those things. We don’t get upset or have a bad day and eat a pint of ice cream to ease the pain.  We exercise regularly and have a clean house.

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of. And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order: it exposes the lie.

This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.

The big risk here, of course, is rejection. We can all handle being disliked now and then, because there’s such an infinitely big pool of potential likers. But to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful. The prospect of pain generally, the pain of loss, of breakup, of death, is what makes it so tempting to avoid love and stay safely in the world of liking.

And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill. When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived.

Read the rest of the opinion piece here.

Listen to the whole commencement speech here.

Random Online Fun

I’ve mentioned my love for Metafilter before, and I’ll mention it again.  🙂

Here are some fun items I’ve run across in my catch-up from the last few weeks:

40 Things that will make you feel old.  No, really, this is a different list!  The Macarena is 16 years old!

Living in 258 square feet.  Pretty smart, actually, and I’m considering doing a dining table like his.  Also, I have one of those Carrefour bags that he pulls out 5:30 in!

Sci-Fi movies with Ikea instructions.  Gave me a good giggle.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure:  Pendulum waves.  Puts the Bellagio Fountain to shame:


My friend sent around a compilation of BBC Walk on the Wild Side videos, which feature animals in the wild “talking.”  I couldn’t find the compilation on youtube, but here are some videos from the show, all funny!

Night time…..DAYTIME!

Move! Move! Move!  Move! MoveMoveMoveMoveMoveMove…

Do that thing where you fart through your head.


Delightful Year, Continued

As I mentioned in this post, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue my “Picture a Day” project for 2011, but I did want to work on taking better pictures.

But then, I discovered that taking a picture each day is second nature now.  So I’m continuing the project, although I ‘m not guaranteeing a picture for each day, because some of my days I don’t even leave the house.  But I will be doing pictures most days.

January is mostly updated – you can view it here.

Also, I evidently inspired my friend GeauxGirl to challenge herself to a picture a day.  You can view her photos here.

I love Simon’s Cat!


This and That

This entire month, I’ve been going non-stop.  Before today, I had only 4 evenings to relax and/or do stuff around the house, and zero weekend time.  Today was the first time all month I’ve been able to sleep in.  I’m finally getting the chance to re-center myself.  And it’s lovely. 

And I’m taking advantage of it, since the busyness is ramping back up tomorrow. 

Still working on that painful, soul-searching blog post.  Luckily, actually, I haven’t had the time to wallow in it.  But at the same time, I really need to get it out.  I’ve considered calling in sick to work, but I’ve got too much going on there, too. 

Okay, enough about me.  I’m trying to get back into reading through metafilter, and I found some things I wanted to share:

For my friend geauxgirl:  Rock Balancing by Peter Riedel.

Ganja Yoga combines marijuana and meditation.  Proponents say that using pot before yoga helps you better focus on your breath, makes you more receptive to poses and philosophies, and helps quiet the monkey mind.  Really, it kind of makes sense.

Women – is the bathroom line too long?  This might help.

Even though I saw this come around on email a few weeks back, I enjoyed it enough to share.  Kulula Airlines out of South Africa has the coolest livery ever.  “Jump seat (for wannabe pilots)”; “the big cheese (“captain, my captain!”)”; “fuel tanks (the go-go juice).”  I love a company that can have fun with their business!

And, for a dose of cuteness, may I introduce you to The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.

Scars: A Followup (postsecret of the week)

courtesy of postsecret


This postcard jumped out at me today, as an odd, serendipitous followup to my post on scars (found here). 

With emotional scars, as with physical scars, they are evidence that we survived, even though, at times, we thought we wouldn’t.

We are stronger than we think we are.  The fact that we have scars, emotional and physical, is proof of that.

“I’m Sorry”

Almost every weekend, I find something on postsecret that I want to blog about.  Maybe I’ll make it a thing.

“I wish ‘I’m sorry’ was enough but we all know it’s not.”

It may not be enough, but it’s a start.  Sometimes it needs to be said.  Sometimes it needs to be heard. 

Sometimes, they’re just words. 

But they’re better said than not said.

They’re better heard than not heard.

Rate Your Date

A little something for my friends who are dating online:

Check your rating.  Check guys’ ratings.  You can rate how much they looked like their picture, how good the date was, how good a kisser he was.  It works for match, plenty of fish, yahoo, lavalife, eharmony…the list goes on.  You can do all this without signing up, but if you sign up, you can leave comments. 

Let me know if you find any interesting or useful information!!

(As an example, you can type in “cltmaven” on match.  This is the ex-girlfriend of a friend of mine.  No names, just wanted you to see what it says if someone is actually rated!)

Blog Twins

Ever since izziedarling commented on my blog and I started following her, I’ve loved her.  I can hear her voice in my head, even though I’ve never met her.  But here’s the thing – it’s not her voice I hear, it’s my friend geauxgirl’s.  I would almost believe they were the same person, if I didn’t know better.  Actually, come to think of it…geauxgirl, do you have a second blog that I didn’t know about?  Nah, you’re too damn busy.

Read this. Then read this.  Then tell me they don’t sound alike.

I would love to have cocktails with both of them together.

On second thought, that might be a little scary…