I just finished reading The Man Who Heard Voices
, by Michael Bamberger. It's about director M. Night Shyamalan and the making of his new movie, Lady in the Water
. The book got an overwhelmingly negative review
in the New York Times
last month ? "not just a puff article but a full-length, unintentionally riotous puff book." Yet somehow the review made me want to read the book anyway. I've liked most of Shyamalan's movies, and the book seemed like a chance to get inside his head a little bit. Which it is, completely. The book is in a lot of ways autobiography dressed up as biography ? for much of it, Bamberger is writing about the thoughts inside Shyamalan's head, and apparently got enough access and got Shyamalan to open up to him enough that the reader gets a real sense of the process behind making the movie and of Shyamalan's thoughts, at least the ones he wanted to let Bamberger communicate.
I have a larger point here. I know I'm slow in getting to it, and if you don't care about Michael Bamberger or M. Night Shyamalan, I've probably lost you already. But books like this are why I like to read. I find that I don't care as much about story or plot or action as I do about getting inside someone's head. Usually the author's head. In this case, inside the subject's head. But that's what's interesting to me. The chance to get a glimpse of an inner monologue, to see how someone else's wheels turn. Whether or not Bamberger's book is an "unintentionally riotous puff book," which to some degree I think it is, what made it worth reading for me was that I got to get inside Shyamalan's mind just a little bit, and it was an interesting place to be.
In effect, this is what blogs let you do, or at least I'd like to think so. I started blogging almost exactly 4 years ago, right before I started law school. I just wanted a place to store thoughts, and a way to force myself to write every day. But I found that once I started, it's hard to stop. I got addicted to the instant connection with people out there in the world, the immediate feedback, the feeling like someone out there cares about what you're thinking. And as I started reading other people's blogs, I found that sometimes, even if you can't articulate why you're reading, you start to get hooked. A blog ? a good blog ? lets you inside someone's head, and if you like being there, it can become awfully compelling.
I feel like blogs usually get credit for other reasons ? giving people a way to get their thoughts out to the world, letting anyone become a journalist of sorts, allowing for real-time information ? but I don't find that I really read blogs for those reasons. I feel like too much of what we're forced to take in, as readers, or as consumers of anything, is fake. Disingenuous, scripted. I think of most stand-up comedy as the best example of what I mean. There's no humanity in too many stand-up comedy acts. The bits are too generic, anyone could be doing them, you don't learn anything about the comedian, there's no honesty, there's no reason to care.
My biggest fear, as I wrote my book ? which is written largely as a blog, from the perspective of a hiring partner at a corporate law firm, frustrated with his life and taking it out on those around him ? was that in the writing and the plotting and the crafting, I would lose what makes actual blogs work. That degree of humanity in the character, like there's really a genuine person there. That what you're seeing is someone's inner life, and it's not just like an unsatisfying stand-up comedy routine.
That's why blogs have the potential to be cool. That's why I blog, or at least that's part of it. I'll be funnier tomorrow, I promise.