Yesterday I noticed the blinders I was wearing. Today I stopped and took them off, so I could really see, just for a moment or two. Tomorrow I am having them sewn to my face.
It's been 09/10/95 for five minutes and 15 seconds by my watch. Holy crap, I just realized it's really been an HOUR and five minutes and I've been lying my ass off on all my web-page notes. Oh well. Consider this an errata.
I'd say the best two things about creating this page have been the e-mails I have received in response and the chance to actually talk to Da Man Himself under an actual valid pretext. I'd like to say the increased awareness of Ellison on the Net or the information I've gained about Harlan were in the running, but the simply truth is that human contact leaves them both standing.
I feel that as a species we have been given a fantastic ability to elucidate our thoughts and communicate with others, but that we have mainly used the fey powers evolution has given us to pervert the elucidation and avoid the communication. I have used the analogy before that we walk the city streets of our existence with our heads bowed before a driving rain, and that on the rare occaisions we lift our eyes to our fellow travelers we are usually scanning their eyes for a threat rather than seeing if a piece of our own soul is reflected there.
So, briefly but sincerely, thank you for lifting your eyes to mine, if but for a moment. I have not had one negative comment about myself, Harlan, or the page since I started, and this is remarkable to me as my vision of the Net is usually similar to a game of Doom, where you're most likely to have your efforts repaid with a shotgun blast or a bust of plasma flame. If I don't reply to something, try me again, I probably just did something typically stupid and lost or forgot your message.
While we're on the subject of human contact, I talked to Harlan tonight. I called just before Midnight my time, which is 9 pm his time. He didn't know who "Rick Wyatt" was, but he did know who "The Web Guy" was. I guess I shouldn't expect more after two brief in-person conversations and two phone calls.
Harlan was, of course, gracious and helpful. My impression of him has been nothing like the horror stories I've heard, and this has been echoed by several of the e-mails I have received. Of course Harlan always makes a few caustic or sarcastic remarks, but they are invariably funny (at least to me) and more on the level of the quips I and my close friends exchange than anything hurtful. I am tempted to do something really inane just to incur his wrath and see what all the fuss is about. It wouldn't be that hard: I could just do the unthinkable and send him a Christmas card in a few months.
Maybe someday Harlan will actually check out this page and go off on me over something like my inclusion of the Deadloss stuff. For now, though, I am pleasantly surprised, especially since when I sent the letter asking for permission to do this page several of my friends were worried he might actually call me, project a distended jaw through the phone, and swallow me whole. I, too had my fears after mailing the letter of hearing a knock in the night, opening my door, and finding a pair of small but devilishly strong hands squeezing my neck so hard that my eyes bugged out like the bad special effects in Total Recall
Needless to say my eyes are still with me and I am not resting uncomfortably in a pythonic stomach. While folklore portrays Ellison as the kind of monster used to frighten small children, my experience has been quite the opposite. I would love to add to the myth and tell you that he flew to Atlanta just to throw bricks through my bedroom window or that he mailed me a long-since-deceased rodent of some kind. Unfortunately, my real-world experiences with Harlan show him to be more mensch than monster. Go figure.
It was hard for me, hanging up that phone and going on with my life. I tried watching Saturday Night Live (some repeat from when Dennis Miller had long hair and still dressed like one of the Bee Gees), but it all seemed a little trivial. Maybe it was the state of euphoria one gets from actually being treated like a human being by one of one's heroes, maybe it was just that I thought maybe I could do something better than sit vacuously before a tube while blood collected in my buttocks. But I had to do something else.
If I were a writer, I'd probably have gone and written a story about it. But what came out instead was an update to this web page and this little testament to my relative ability. Ellison made a comment about how Christopher Priest's work about the non-appearence of The Last Dangerous Visions has sold more than anything else the guy ever wrote, and that it was sad that Priest had to ride on Harlan's coattails to get noticed.
Just now, writing this, I am aware of how much that comment may apply to me, as well. Here I am writing another fucking elegy instead of adding something worthwhile of my own to the general store of knowledge. Here I am thinking I am somehow meaningful, somehow important, when I've merely hitched my wagon to a more-deserving and underappreciated star. Well you know what? Fuck it. If I touched five people with my work here, that's more people than I would have touched if I'd have spent the time jerking off. And if you read this because I slapped like a "Kick Me" sign on the back of a great writer, well, at least you read it.
Like the poem I put at the top there says, sometimes having your eyes opened exposes you to more than your share of pain. In this little Internet excursion I have become aware of nothing more clearly than my own ignorance and insignifigance. But behind the self-loathing and questioning there is this: I have also met a few folks throught this I never would have otherwise, read their words intended only for me, looked up from my rain-drenched pilgrimage and seen a glimmer or two I thought was only found in my own eyes.
I have felt, if but for an instant, the warm breath on my ear of another whispering my name.
Now, you tell me that ain't worth it all.
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