In a classic piece of the cut-and-thrust dialogue which has become Aaron Sorkin’s trademark, the writer of A Few Good Men and The West Wing opens his fascinating film about the founding of Facebook, The Social Network, with a highly theatrical fast-paced argument between Zuckerberg and the girlfriend, Erika, who (though he doesn’t know it yet) is about to dump him. Her greatest insult comes in the form of a prediction/instruction:
“You write your snide bullshit from a dark room because that’s what the angry do nowadays.”
Will this blog basically come to consist of another angry young man writing snide bullshit from a dark room? The danger is a real one. But the main reason for launching this site is to have somewhere I can pull together in one place various pieces I’ve written. As well as, I guess – and here’s where I’ll probably have to plead guilty to Erika’s charge – to mark out a place to protest. About what exactly? Well, for starters, the way press stereotypes and caricatures various people and arguments (for example, in Damian Thompson’s leader in The Spectator this week – see tomorrow’s blog). Always trading in misinterpreted trends, always ironing out individuality, and I’m not even talking about the tabloids
(I like that line in Monty Python Life of Brian:
Brian: You’re all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I’m not…)
The effect of all this? To justify our disparaging and dismissing the new phenomena and opportunities and experiences which crop up, to dampen our natural curiosity about things – things like miracles, or things like evil. To put us off exploring this or that because the media, operating from their weird worldviews and passé paradigms, have already put it down to this or that syndrome.
Finally, a word about the name of this blog. ‘I Write What I Like’ was the title of the selection of writings by South African anti-apartheid leader, Steve Biko. It was published in 1978, a year after he was murdered in police custody. Obviously, you might detect something of the disanalogous here, between the extraordinarily brave leader of black consciousness during Mandela’s long imprisonment, and me. Nevertheless, the spirit of clarity and passion in those writings is at least something to aspire to.