You know how it is sometimes, you wake up in the morning feeling vaguely optimistic about the day ahead, and then some atrocity occurs and you find yourself cursing the gods above and questioning the very nature of human existence. Your own existence, on any account.
On the morning in question, I was attending a Stampede breakfast, happily munching on pancakes which I am probably allergic to and listening to country music which I’m definitely allergic to, when an acquaintance of mine came along and we did the “Hail fellow, well met” nonsense and proceeded to chitchat about everything that was new under the sun since last we’d spoken.
The conversation turned to blogs, as it will, when all other topics have been beaten into submission. We both knew I had one – this one, in fact – but only he knew that he had one too, but then he told me about it so I knew too, and I must admit it came as a surprise to me that he was writing one as he’s known as a person of the theatre and not as a writer.
A mutual friend who was witness to this momentous conversation asked, in the manner of a co-conspirator, how many “hits” his blog had received. He smiled, in the manner of the cat with a canary in its mouth, and reported that the blog was approaching a million hits. That’s 1,000,000 hits (Can). All this activity, all this traffic as we call it cyberly, in a year or so. In fact, less than a year.
Four eyes then slid over in my direction and I was asked just what kind of traffic I’d been enjoying on my blog, this one – and if you’re reading this, you’re part of my traffic and so thank you very much for your support.
Well, friends, numbers are odious, so I won’t bore you with specifics, but let’s just say that if my friend’s blog could be represented by the Deerfoot Trail, mine could then be represented by a small flood-damaged section of the bike path. This partly explains a low grade depression that kept me from writing this blog for the past while.
I think I’m OK now. Because as you know, I prefer the bike path and the people who frequent it (like you, dear reader) to the Deerfoot Trail. Any day of the week. So it serves me well to think of this is a “boutique blog,” important to discerning readers (like yourself), essentially ignored by the great unwashed.
Here’s the kicker and here’s the point: my friend’s blog is an example of what he happily calls “erotica.” He writes it in the voice and persona of submissive girl. (Which stretches my imagination in several directions, especially given the fact that my friend sports a rather lumber-jackerish beard and there is nothing girlish about him. But then again, what do I know?)
I mean it. What do I know?
As it happens, this was my second brush with an eroticist this summer. The first was in the embodiment of a very attractive young woman (although I have no idea whether she’s submissive or not) but I know attractive when I’m looking at it. She actually sent me a sample of her wares (after some begging on my part) and it was one of the erotic highlights of my reading career, maybe my life in total, made all the more poignant by imagining her (not to mention me!) in some of the erotic encounters portrayed therein in most detailed and delicious fashion.
In other words, it was hot. Fucking hot! Hot fucking! And I felt vaguely dirty after I read it. Especially the second and third times. She, too, proudly announces to poor unsuspecting souls like myself that she writes “erotica,” in the same way that she might say she writes poetry, or romance novels, or press releases for oil companies.
As far as I know, she doesn’t have a blog but if she did, I have no doubt her numbers would be in the zillions.
Well, I’m hardly a prude, but if you asked me, this is basically what we used to call “dirty” writing. In fact, when I was younger, there used to be what were referred to as “left-handed novels” and I’m sure you, delicate reader, can use your imagination as to what that means. I find myself struggling with the distinction between erotica and pornography, if in fact there even is one, a meaningful one, at any rate.
The dictionary on my computer (called the Free Dictionary, which is very good, and can be found at thefreedictionary.com), for example, defines erotica as “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire” and pornography as “sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.” Certainly, they seem like different sides of the same coin. A slim distinction, at best.
But I’m not writing this to take a holier-than-thou stance on erotica or pornography. Actually, as a writer, who teaches creative writing classes from time to time, I can only think than anyone getting their kicks from the written word, reading or writing it, this tiny island in the roiling sea of lewd and lascivious video images, is at least doing something beneficial for his or her mind. It seems downright quaint to think of someone getting his or her jollies from the written word. Maybe there’s hope after all!
What I find troubling is this reminder of the sheer volume of the interest in porn, sorry, erotica, compared to anything else. Such as this blog of mine, for example. Christopher Hedges tells us in his brilliantly depressing book Future of an Illusion that the pornographic movie industry grosses twice what the “ethical” industry earns. And I am reminded of a tidbit from the past, that at the time that VHS and Beta were fighting it out for supremacy. VHS won out, even though it was inferior technology, because the pornography industry embraced VHS. Bye bye Beta.
The young lady who shared her erotica with me challenged me to write some of my own. I tried, but I felt like a 12 year old boy who has been caught masturbating. I scrawled (yes, scrawled) a few naughty words, but I was simply too self-conscious for it to amount to anything.
So while my bearded friend in the guise of a submissive girl rolls on to his second million, I will toil away here in the “ethical” trenches with the small trickle of traffic I have become accustomed to. My traffic numbers aren’t tied to anything other than my sense of self-worth anyway, so what does it matter?
I’m guess when push comes to shove, I’m old school enough to think that some things are best kept private.
Still, a million hits!
Oh well. Thanks for reading!
Here’s some funky “traffic” of a different nature from a long time ago.