Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Scenes and communities

So I'm reading and idly thinking about the difference between a "scene" and a community.

A scene is a place to be seen. It is by the very choice of that word, a setting, something visual, spatial, artificial. The scene is the clothes you wear to the punk rock show--the community is the group you go home with afterward, or stumble to the diner to talk it all over afterward.

The scene can be a place for community to grow, but it can also kill community by creating the illusion that this is all there is. If all it appears to be is clothes and club nights, then you reject everything when you take off those clothes and stop going to the club nights.

If it means more than clothes--if it means music, art, politics, blood, bone and love--most of all love--then no matter what you wear or how old you get, your community will not fail you.

This is why modern hipsterism feels so damn empty. It is nothing but visual, spatial. You can't be a hipster on the telephone. You can be on the internet, but only in pictures snapped at the cool parties, with the cool kids, in the cool clothes. You cannot be a hipster alone in the forest. (you can be on Facebook, of course.)

To write, create, you must go beyond hip. You must go beyond the scene. My writing prof is always nagging us to write a story, not a scene, to find something deeper, something meaningful, something that changes you.

This is why I have more love even for a book like Twilight, cheesy, occasionally inept and often laugh-inducing when it's not meant to be, because it has not the slightest bit of irony. And this is why it has a rabid fan base (more later). Because to write, to create, you have to put yourself out there to risk being mocked.

And this is why books like that create communities, friendships, bonds, even though many people cheerily admit that they know it's terrible.

The blogosphere is my new punk rock scene, but more than that, it's my new community. As I grow older and hide my tattoos under sweaters and skirts and high heels. It creates communities because we cannot be seen. It is not temporal--once you put something on the Internet it is there for good, and you lose control of it--and it is not spatial, because where is the Internet?

While we may blog our bodies, perhaps, we blog those inner pieces that are not so easy to see or to change. Perhaps I would have been more accurate to say that we blog the experiences our bodies have had, have caused for us or been through. After all, would blogging as a Jewish woman be the same for me in Israel as it is in Philadelphia? Was I the same in Boston as I was in South Carolina? It is not just our bodies but the social construction of and around our bodies that really shapes who we are.

And we find community within those lines and across them. Because we put ourselves out there, not to be seen, but to be understood.

(cross-posted, as usual)