DEAR DIARY: Don’t you ever get the feeling, after digesting a steaming pile of self-published testimonial, that you really just don't give a shit? JESSE BELLE on the blogging backlash.


Zinesters, riot grrrls, online support groups and teen bloggers, I implore you: don't publish your diary - visceral and immediate as it may well be - and call it Art. Especially not if your subject matter is deeply personal.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to tell your own story; your abortion, your sex change operation, your unfair arrests, your boyfriend trouble, your mum, your dad, your coffee maker, the colour, shape and texture of your morning shit. The world needs your story. Probably.

And there's undoubtedly a place for the sharing of stories, however banal or ill written, in comparing experience and reassuring ourselves that we are not alone. Don't get me wrong, I love to read a good story (and a good diary, too, especially when the pleasure’s illicit; therein lies the raw truth of things, unedited and pure, which is perhaps the real Art -- but that's another story entirely which concerns the fact that not everybody is possessed of the same capacity to ask questions of themselves and the world around them).




"your overstimulated empathy gland
throbs with acute boredom"

Don’t you ever get the feeling, though, after digesting a steaming pile of self-published testimonial, that you really just don't give a shit? Your overstimulated empathy gland throbs with the ache of acute boredom; the self-indulgence sensor in the back of the brain begins to buzz and hum. You’re forced to think of The Starving Children In Africa™ (one-size-fits-all cultural reference to a vague notion of hardship supposedly greater than one's own), to whom our plight, in comparison, starts to seem a little bit not-that-fucking-bad.

Not that it's really about The Starving Children. Those who are still genuinely moved by The Starving Children, in this jaded and decadent day and age, might also be genuinely moved by the legion of zinesters and their poor-little-rich-kid tales of abortion (oh, no! Comparatively safe, cheap and legal medical care!

Oh, no! Obligatory guilt and trauma leading to pseudo-feminist survival stories of lip-trembling strength in the face of aforementioned adversity!), gender crises (oh, no! Identity politics as cutting-edge consumerism in an age of plenty! Oh, no! I Shaved Off All My Hair And Wore A T-Shirt Saying "Fuck You And Your Gender Binaries" And Now The Builders Don’t Whistle At Me -- patriarchal fucks!), boyfriend trouble (look, grrrlfriend, dump the asshole and put some of your politics into practise), et al.



Those who are genuinely moved are in all probability about fifteen years old – and in this cruel life, if you’re going to get moved, then by God, that’s the time to do it – or perhaps they’re Christians. I have been fifteen, but I have never once been a Christian. Perhaps I ought to become one at some point, but not yet, darling, not yet.



Listening indifferently to the New Rage and generational angst of post-metal boy-band screamcore, I have asked myself why the suffering of [arguably] one of the most privileged creatures to walk the earth today (the white, heterosexual, middle-class male) is so much less eloquently expressed than that of one of the much less privileged (the black working-class woman, for example: Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, et al).

In fact, to my obviously untrained ear it does sound quite literally like the [primal] screaming of a spoilt baby. Is it so hard to be a white westerner? Because really, to listen to us all -- the rising hum of our “unrepresented” voices, now available for your reading and listening pleasure on the web, at the student union bar, in the anarchist bookshop, the feminist distro centre, the punk rock rekkid store -- you'd think it's sheer hell.

Could it be, that in the absence of any "real” problems (i.e., those concerned with base survival) we will end up eating ourselves alive through some kind of biologically necessary catharsis in the Darwinian model?

Could it be that the human animal, in order to evolve, needs a predator, and having eliminated all others, will ultimately turn on itself? Are we headed towards the fall of Rome (bring it on, o documentalists of the end of the world, thou zinesters, thou bloggers, thou readers of self-help-books!)?

Are we mollycoddling our souls to the very death, while indulging their every flinch and whimper? Have we spent our lives waiting for some real hardship in order to have something to talk about (write about, fight about) or a real set of wounds to heal? Will we love every bloody minute of it when it finally dawns?

Let Rome burn, then, and with it the peculiarly acute malady that seems to arise [partly] from boredom, affluence and self-pity. Hurrah! Bring it on, I say! Meanwhile, don't forget the spellchecker, kids. I'll be reading all about it in your diary, so be careful what you say, for it may be used against you. See you at the end of the world.



Jesse Belle is the original muse with the blues. Fidgety, megalomaniac, insubordinate, softer in the middle but crusty on the side, sweet as pee and occasionally nihilistic, neo-romantic, faggy, tempted but not swayed. To her great sorrow, she has finally learned how to use a pair of tweezers. Want more? Visit Myspace.

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