Sunday, April 4, 2010

Different Masks

I guess most of us love hearing about our favourite writers: whether it be reading their blogs, listening to interviews, mulling over a snapshot in some tabloid fodder or even reminiscing with them courtesy of some bygone footage on youtube where the genius promotes some ancient text that shaped worldviews: we’re all the same in this regard; whether prolific or unpublished, hermetic or social butterfly, at a core level we all share the headspace of being fans.

But sometimes, I’m sure, there are times when we wish that we didn’t know.

For there is less mystery nowadays, and it is easier to discover how a magician does their tricks. With the advent of the internet that elusive signature doesn’t seem to hold the same weight. Readers are not prone to line up for hours in apocalyptic conditions to fraternize and speak with a beloved composer who made them think, for a fleeting minute, that the world is brighter and somehow more mysterious than previously envisioned. Greetings and platitudes can be exchanged in the comfort of one’s own writing dominion, with little sacrifice. Although this does not make the exchange any less pleasurable … we still jump for joy knowing that the individual liberator has taken a couple of seconds out of their existence to say they appreciated your support and your own existence.

These things led me to think about Stephen King’s short story Dedication … a harried attempt by the man to explain how such enormously gifted people can turn out to be such utter shits in person: women pawing sexists, racists, sneering elitists, or cruel practical jokers. Politics should never come into it, but I recently discovered Dean Koontz was a devoted Republican and had contributed vast amounts of money to candidates and in particular John McCain’s campaign. This should not make me recoil … and yet it did. I live on the other side of the pond in Australia and should not be concerned with how this talented man views his political system. However, it did sour my perception for a whole day and I was reminded of a sentence in one of his recent novels (I can’t remember which one), that describes a hairy spider as having the same characteristics as a hairy mullah of the Taliban. I was distraught as I envisioned this rich white man paling it up with Sarah Palin enough that it stopped me from purchasing his latest release Relentless. Of course, common sense eventually kicked in and I more or less discarded this revelation. Enough to get me to buy the book, anyway. But it did get me thinking about the personal conundrums these individuals have in the public spotlight. 

I’m glad to say that recently I’ve had by own small brush with someone whose work I love: Mr. Clive Barker himself. Over the years this master fabulist has garnered a reputation for being exemplary with his fans and the people who give him the opportunity to do what he loves as a fulltime job. And his brief sojourn into modern technology via Twitter is no exception. I’ve always felt an affiliation with this man; he has provided succor during some tumultuous times in my life. It was only fitting that I woke up one morning with the subject line in an email:

You have a personal message from Clive Barker.

He thanked me for my insights.

And I, in turn, proceeded to thank some nameless deity. 

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