A few months ago I published a piece in the new, start-up arts and culture zine, Revolving Floor about my Birthright trip to Israel, called “Eggs, Milk and Honey,” describing my reaction to the homeland–and the pressure to have seven Jewish babies.
The responses were…heated. Not only did strangers write comments calling me spoiled, anti-Semitic, passive aggressive and a bagel-eater (seriously, white flour? Come on, guys…), but even my own parents didn’t like the essay. I met other people who read the essay and said they were going to send it to their parents, just to piss them off. Clearly, this piece was my attempt to counteract every night in high school that I obeyed my curfew.
This month, I decided to publish what I thought would be a less controversial piece, about the ways that I have been lost throughout my life, literally and metaphorically, and my perhaps unrealistic hope of feeling “found.”
“There is a poem by Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov called “Sail.” The last two lines, roughly translated, are: “Rebellious, it seeks out a storm/As if in storms it could find peace!” In the context of these verses, the problem becomes obvious: it’s not that I like the excitement of being lost. It’s that I like the feeling of being found. I want to climb back in the car with dirty feet, awaiting a bath. My whole life, the drama I’ve created has come with a pavlovian reward: resolution. I viewed everything I had as wrong, but I always had the power to make things right when I was ready.” [Read Full Essay]
The essay seemed, if anything, a bit self-deprecating and maybe unresolved, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the following comment from Claude: “Excellent text, but sad life. Life has a way of interfering with self-centered thrill seekers; it steals their time.”
I know you’re not supposed to care what people say about you on the Web, but that hit kind of raw note.
Then, like most things in my life, it got funny. Some people, including my beloved aunt, raced to my defense on the comment page. Then the commenter, Claude, responding to a suggestion that he shouldn’t conflate my text and my entire life, wrote this: “Should the fact that Althusser killed his wife affect our interpretation of structuralism? Or the nazism of Heidegger tint his writings? Are we what we write? Actor Errol Flynn once wrote a very antisemitic sentence in a private letter. It may be a little part of him, smaller than his love of the sea, but it is there, isn’t it?
And I read this as an antisocial text.”
Murderer. Nazi. Antisocial. (!?) To Claude, I say: I may have some days of inexplicable rage, and I did like the original Robin Hood, but if I were really antisocial, I’d be…I don’t know…probably doing something like finding the online works of writers I’d never met and telling them they were bad people with sad lives…