Monday, 18 July 2011

Reader Appreciation Moment


I seem to have developed quite a readership all of the sudden. So I want to take a minute to show gratitude to everyone who reads my words.

I am immensely grateful to anyone and everyone who takes the time to read my words. I know how difficult it is, in this internet age, to keep one’s attention fixed on one idea, or even one post. And I also know how difficult it is to read the words of a (let’s face it) fairly novice writer. Especially when that writer has a penchant for coming up with big, fat wacky theories that may or may not explain the world of politics but are, for the most part, unheard of.

So, thank you, every last one of you. For giving me your attention, even if just fleetingly, or your click or your comment.

I see writers who appear reluctant to recognise the existence of readers, much less appreciate them. I don’t want to do that.

I believe that if we don’t catch a moment to remember the people who read our words, in whichever format that may be in, then we run the risk of falling, unconsciously, for the false belief that the readers “don’t exist”, or that they are an amorphous entity that’s just there to do what they are supposed to do.

I don’t mean that we literally believe that readers don’t exist. I mean that without a clear acknowledgement that they do, we run the risk of:

a) believing that we are being read and supported by readers because we are so awesome and, honestly, it couldn’t be otherwise. “I am read because I speak such truths, and in fact I can’t understand why not more people read me. In fact, those who don’t read me must be mad, what is wrong with them?” --- See where that descends into?

Or b) severing the dialogue that is supposed to take place between a writer and their readership. Writing is done through language, which in turn comes from dialogue. This means that all writing is dialogue of one shape or another. And a dialogue needs people who communicate with each other. If we don’t acknowledge the people reading us, we can't establish any dialogue, and our writing becomes ungrounded, separated from our human core, and falls pray to the idea that “we”, writers, preach while everyone else listens.

I would love to have a dialogue with you. If you ever have a reaction to my words, please know that I would value your comment. I know I have a lot to learn and I’m still getting used to the idea of talking with people about politics instead of exploding in bouts of rage at the injustice of it all and, presumably, aiming my voice and my writing at the heavens.

I am trying to come up with a different way to "do" politics, and it's going to take everything I have.
Once again, thank you for being there and allowing me the opportunity to share my world with you. 

And because I'm nothing if not cheesy, I leave you with one of the best songs ever to exist. (I cannot believe nobody has uploaded an actual clip from the movie on youtube, so we are stuck with the original soundtrack and the album cover)



6 comments:

rebel13 said...

I am trying to come up with a different way to "do" politics, and it's going to take everything I have.

Me too Mary Tracy! Maybe we can work on it together in that project that our friend is proposing?

Mary Tracy said...

I raise my glass to that thought :) It'll be hard work, though.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is always engaging, with an appealing personal approach. And thanks for your invitation to dialogue, although I'm not sure if it was meant for me, as a man who isn't a feminist. I often (but not always) feel cautious to respond in feminist sites - it feels like I am out of place. And most comments from men seem like either they are trying to be obnoxious or they are seeking approval, and I don't know which is worse. I do sometimes respond on "The F-Word" where they're quite polite. But some of the sites you link to certainly wouldn't welcome a response from me. Regards, Michael Biggs

Mary Tracy said...

Thanks, Michael. So long as the comments are respectful, I welcome pretty much everyone.

Anonymous said...

Ok good. I was attracted by your thinking about different ways to "do" politics. I like to engage with people who have strong, optimistic ideals, such as various varieties of socialists, feminists, anti-racists, environmentalists and animal rights people.

It seems to me that some people (including me in the past) get so fixed on some particular ideology and internal debates within a small group, that they lose the ability to "do" politics at all - they marginalise themselves, and often end up full of anger and self-righteousness.

They may say that this is what they want: eg the "Trotskyite Fourth International Socialist Labour League" is the one group with the correct strain of Marxist analysis of society, and all political change must flow from this. And if there are only 20 of them in the world, then at least they can feel self-actualised in that they are holding the true flame and keeping it alive.

I think the best way to move on from this is to try and focus less on ideology, and more on engaging with real people, imagining their internal world, caring about them, and looking for realistic ways to engage more people in the general direction you are interested in.

To continue the Marxism example: for most people, socialism and communism is associated with more mass-murder than anything else in history, including Nazism. No matter whether that analysis is fair or not, nothing that uses the term socialism has any chance whatever of "connecting to the zeitgeist" in the Western World. So those of us that can see the injustices and the damage caused by capitalism have to find alternative words and images that can connect with people, to build ideas of attractive alternatives.

Another example: I'm in the social work field working with vulnerable families, and all of us (mainly women) are always confronted by the damage done by male sexuality. Nearly everyone in my field looks for ways to protect victims of male sexuality, male control, male tyranny in the family, and male violence, and to change male behaviour and attitudes. But very few of us see our society primarily through the "lens" of patriarchy - for most of us it doesn't adequately explain the enormous complexity of power dynamics and human vulnerabilities in society.

So to "do" politics with this group, we need to engage them in ways that are meaningful to them, to build their caring for abused women and children into realistic political proposals that will improve things.

Obviously, this has been done in various ways in the past, but at the moment there seems to be a pause in the movements to protect and empower the powerless. I'm proposing that part of the reason for this is that that those with radical, hopeful ideals get so frustrated with the realities that they refrain from engaging with the world view of ordinary people, let alone focus on actively caring for people with a different world view.

So I'm putting forward a way to do politics that I've found: I focus less on being "right" or "theoretical", and more on engagement, caring and effectiveness. The "caring" in this is essential because it keeps one's personal integrity, and prevents compromising one's core starting point. Regards, Michael Biggs.

Mary Tracy said...

Sorry, Michael, you comment got stuck in the spamulator. No idea why, it's never happened before.

"think the best way to move on from this is to try and focus less on ideology, and more on engaging with real people, imagining their internal world, caring about them, and looking for realistic ways to engage more people in the general direction you are interested in"

My thoughts exactly. It all begins with actual engagement with real people and caring for the vulnerable is absolutetly essential. It made up a core component of the Women's Movement.

"those with radical, hopeful ideals get so frustrated with the realities that they refrain from engaging with the world view of ordinary people, let alone focus on actively caring for people with a different world view"

So true. I admit to having been guilty of the same thing. It may be caused by fear, mind. This modern hyper technological world of ours breeds fear in our hearts towards our fellow humans. I can tell you that it's worse in this country than where I come from.

I sincerely hope to become more involved in making a difference towards other people's lives. When I do, I shall write about it. My goal is to be able to reframe political discourse so that our energy isn't consumed by anger and it effects actual change in real lives.