Thursday, February 10, 2005

21st century dating

When I was in college and gleefully chewing up Japanese literature, one of my favorite novels was Kagi (The Key) by Junichiro Tanizaki. Written in 1956, the story is a remarkable experimental work, taking the form of two diaries of a married couple detailing their sexual life and innermost thoughts. The chapters alternate between the diaries, and while they start out independent of each other, the couple and the reader gradually begin to realize they've been reading each other's secret diaries, and that what's being written is not so much the truth as another level of the power play in their relationship. It is a psychologically stunning book, twisting your head around every word to see if it is "true" or just written for the other person's benefit.

The other night after penning that last blog entry I ended up kicking around the internet, found some blogs where people wrote about their dating life. I poked around half interested, but my eyes shot wide open, I stood straight up and just went dumb when I found that in two completely independent websites two people were blogging about dating each other, writing as if the other person wasn't reading. The girl is part of some public blog thing where you write about your dating life, the guy just includes that stuff regularly in his blog. They both mention the fact that the other person is blogging the relationship, but they don't let on any reservations about this whatsoever. They even wrote when and where they slept with each other. But they still insist on blogging about each other under aliases. I mean, there's something to be said for people who anonymously blog their dating life, but they and their partners are usually anonymous, right? These two have their photos and contact info right next to the blow-by-blow of their dates!

My mind has really been reeling from this. Both these people seem relatively normal. Well, as normal as wealthy New York yuppies can be. The biggest complaint the guy has written in his blog (February 9th entry) is that the windows in his high rise apartment are way to big, and he's worried that the lawyers across the street think he's some kind of playboy because of all the beautiful women that are constantly coming and going. I hate it when that happens.

This totally raises all kinds of "The Key" type issues. For instance, when they go on a date are they both thinking about how to write about it, and worrying about what the other person is gonna write? Do they check the other's blog the next day? (Of course they do.) So then they're writing as much for the other person as for the general audience. I'm having a hard time actually believing these people are real, that they could actually be going through with this.

If Tanizaki hadn't written that book fifty years ago I would have said this is truly something completely new under the sun, but I suppose it's just the latest version of the eternal fascination with the love lives of the young and wealthy. But now we get to watch the machinations unfold day-by-day. I'd rather read a novel. With real people it's just... icky.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen any of the last few years' crop of reality dating shows? Obviously there are differences from the blogging you're describing, but these are situations where people voluntarily expose their entire relationship to a camera, complete with "solo" sections where each partner confides to the audience. I just read a surreal interview in a stupid Boston weekly with a woman who was on The Bachelorette, talking in all seriousness, with no trace of irony, about her relationship, as though the whole thing weren't affected by each person watching the other describe the experience. Weird.

--rachel (Dr. Dating)

Mandy said...

Can I claim credit for directing you to these two people? Or is it just coincidental that you came upon these two people the same day I did? I also found their mutual blogging eye-opening and kind of disgusting. Well, mostly disgusting. I peripherally know both Miss Mimesis (as an undergrad) and Self-Aggrandizement (from high school), though neither of them know it. Reading about them makes me feel extra disgusting and voyeuristic. Wow. Blogs. Ech.

By the way, who are you? Write me.

Jamie said...

Dear Dr. Dating,

I have thankfully missed the whole reality show phenom. I mean the appeal is there to watch and judge the whole thing I mean, anybody who doesn't see it as a guilty pleasure or watches with irony is off their rocker.

Dear Mandy,

You actually KNOW these people? That's totally weird. An old high school classmate of mine was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire a few weeks ago, but I feel like these two are in a class by themselves.

Anonymous said...

I want to know how Dr. Dating and Mandy found Jamie via the weird NY blog. These loopy connections (including Mandy's KNOWING these two) is mind boggling

Jamie said...

No, you've got it backwards. I found the exhibitionistic yuppies through Mandy's blog. We are linked through my friend Alex's blogzil, and Dr. Dating dated both me and Mr. Blogzil at one point. Cleared up?