Monday, January 25, 2010

Felines and Digital Ego, Mixtapes and Mom

An influential friend got me hooked on the idea of digital ego some years back. I've been fascinated since with the idea of online identity and how it departs/depends from who we are in the "real" world. Lately I put this into practice when creating an avatar for my novel blog.

Digital ego suits my philosophy that it is better not to know what an author looks like. I prefer to let books create imagery in my head and when I see the writer's mug, it negatively impacts the experience. In this spirit, I crafted an avatar that looks nothing like me. The author has to look like something, right? For now, or until an agent tells me otherwise, I'm content to have the world think "James MacAdam" (pictured above) is a slightly creepy-looking guy who loves winged horses.

This got me thinking. Do I want to be totally separate from my digital ego? So far, I've limited my personal output (that is, what I choose to post about on zeitheist) to scattershot subjects, ranging from apocalypses to the occasional political rant. While true enough, the posts come from me, it's also true they present only a shallow portrait. Reflecting on this got me thinking about things I love.

Not to be morbid, but I thought about beloved subjects that are no longer in my life. Three particular things come up, incited more than a little by some of the great blogs I read daily: cats, music and Mom.

Cats were a big part of my life growing up. Though allergies at my house prevent us having any around, I love cats dearly. My last was a tabby named Karma. Sweet runt of the litter, Karma had the canniest expression I've ever seen, human or otherwise. Cats in general seem to be onto something. Out of all the madness in the world, they make more sense than just about anything.

Mixtapes. Making mixtapes used to the end-all, be-all of my existence. So much so, in fact, that one wall of my office is dedicated to something I call my autosonicograpy, essentially two decades' worth of my favorite music mixed with soundbites, captured sounds and conversations, and other ephemera. If you are one of those folks who thinks about the first thing you would grab in a fire, this is mine.

Seeing how many smart and funny mothers there are blogging these days, I often wonder what my own would have thought of the phenomenon. She was a woman who loved to laugh, and I don't wonder that she would get a kick out of the opportunities for expression that exist today. I can only imagine that she would have posted about her favorite things, namely purses, music and cats. Of course, knowing how much she adored being outdoors and taking long walks, the idea of Mom blogging makes me think she would laugh and call me a silly goose for even suggesting the idea.

Anyhow, these are but a few items distinct from my digital ego. Schizo as it might sound, they seem part of a different person than the one presented online. Do you experience this kind of separation, or does it seem that your offline self is reflected more completely in the digital realm?


Ian Woolcott said...

I love the photo of you, your mom and sister.

Lidian said...

I think about this a lot too - I would say that my internet persona corresponds to a certain side of me, one that most people IRL probably do not get to see. Having said that, I keep my dark side out of my blogs, for sure. Though really, anyone as interested in historic true crime as I am, does not keep it out entirely.

Like you I love cats. Music too, though the tapes I made in the 70s and 80s were purely terrible, a product of listening to the radio late at night, filled with insomnia, in NYC.

wngl said...

Mr Woolcott, that's a magical image, isn't it? I love the way it seems to materialize out of the white. This is us at Mom's favorite place in the world, Silver Lake. We spent a couple weeks at a cabin there every summer, eating our meals at Kit Carson Lodge, guzzling Squirt from the bottle, and wanting to grow up faster so we could climb to the top of Mt Thunder.

Lidian, I'm the kind of person that would enjoy hearing those radio tapes. I love primitive recordings like that, it's just how I am!

David Tamayo said...

Now that you say it I always make it a point to look at the author's picture when reading a book and have even thought to myself that this author does or does not look or seem the type to have written what I just read. As far as on-line persona well what I post about I guess is a direct mirror of my feelings and interests. As far as how I want to be known, at least among my fellow bloggers, is as a supportive friend who gives what he expects. ;o) Take care. ( I wish I could write as well as you. Very reflective post.