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Re: glenn gould and pen pals

On Fri, 4 Jun 1999, x wrote:

> I have a penpal in England who just emailed me about the 'purity' of a
> penpal friendship.  "you know the actual me," she wrote.  "And you knew the
> actual 'me' long before we ever met," (we only met once in our entire
> lives).  She says that because we communicated by words rather than by
> face-to-face person-to-person interactions, we avoided all preconceptions
> and prejudices and complexities of a 'usual' human interaction.  

Maybe in some cases.  But (and this is a hypothesis) the 'actual me' of a
personality as expressed in writing on the internet tends to be more
nearly true of introverts than extraverts.

Another factor in this is how one behaves with the luxury of time compared
with "real-time" reactions.  If one's best communication style requires
time to consider, prepare, and edit a response, people can get an
impression in real-time interaction that is incorrect (according to how
the person would describe a 'real me').  This is course reminiscent of
GG's retreat from the stage: he didn't consider his live appearances as
presenting a 'real me' that he could endorse.  He preferred to communicate
on his own time and terms with as much reconsideration as he felt was
necessary.  That notion of 'take-twoness' is attractive to some people,
threatening to others.  Is a person trustworthy who has had the
opportunity to edit himself/herself?  Is a person trustworthy who

My wife is considering a possible dissertation topic of people's
interaction and conflict styles on the internet (conflict theory is her
professional field).  Some people write their responses quickly, others
ruminatively.  It's not always possible to know which is which in an
online discussion, even looking at the time stamp.  It is not clear how
many times an author has rearranged the words before hitting "send."

Some people don't trust this medium because any discussion other than
real-time is (for these people) not "real" human interaction.  Others
would argue that real-time is an artificial and pesky
restriction...internet discussion at its own pace is absolutely real (and
ideal for some).  Some people say things online that they would never say
face-to-face; is that good or bad, real or unreal?  The fact that some
discussions are archived also affects the interaction.

The medium is still new enough that it hasn't yet been studied much at
theoretical levels.  That makes this a potentially good diss topic....

The minister at our wedding did a brilliant homily "The wedding of words
and presence" -- both being crucial.  This was prompted by the fact that
my wife and I first got to know one another as pen-pals, then by phone,
for quite a while before we ever met in person.

> Which OF COURSE made me wonder: what wold Glenn Gould have done with the
> internet, email, and so on?  Would he have finally replaced all his
> friendships with the controlled environment of email or internet chat?
> Would he have exploited a medium of communication that is even more distant
> than telephony?

I suspect he would have loved the internet, perhaps too much for his own
good.  (But it's arguable what "for his own good" means.)  He might have
been lured quite far away from the world of presence and real-time, even
more than he already was.  What is real?  Who's to say?

"Think of the universe, its colossal size [, its possibility]..." 
- Stokowski, in GG's portrait

Bradley Lehman ~ http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/ 
Harrisonburg VA, USA ~ 38.45N+78.94W