Monday, January 29, 2007

Vicious rumours

It has reached Pretty Lady's pretty little ears that there are some ugly rumours going around the Internet. To wit, Pretty Lady has been accused of being a pretty little fraud.

Pretty Lady has to admit that it's true. She pays a monkey six dollars an hour to do her typing for her. Not only is this sub-minimum wage, but the truly dastardly thing is, when the monkey types in the comments from her detractors, she lets him make them up.

Really, darlings. Pretty Lady likes to think that everyone is smarter than that.

For what ought to be staggeringly obvious is that Pretty Lady is exactly what she claims to be--words on a screen. Words on a screen, darlings. Everything else is up to the imagination of the reader.

Readers being what they are, responses to Pretty Lady are bound to vary widely; what she would like to point out is that, since she is nonexistent in corporeal form, there is literally nothing there that could possibly be 'fraudulent.' What is perceived by the reader is, therefore, undoubtedly a projection of the reader's own mind.

Thus, Pretty Lady's author has discovered that Pretty Lady, as a postulate, is an invaluable tool for uncovering the inner, hidden character of her readers. You see that Pretty Lady, as a postulate, as a noncorporeal entity, declares to her readers, "I love you, darling." She means it, of course. As a postulate, she can be made to mean anything that Pretty Lady's author wants her to mean.

What, then, is a person's response, when presented with this postulation? Hmmm. Noncorporeal. Love. Darling.

Pretty Lady is heartened to notice that the vast majority of souls, when presented with this postulate, jump up and down and say, "I love you TOO, Pretty Lady!" Or variants thereon. This makes Pretty Lady most certain that her initial postulation was not erroneous; she really DOES mean it. Her author too. And Pretty Lady's author's author smiles, she thinks, and says, "Told you so."

It saddens both Pretty Lady and her author, however, when the projections of certain other souls, for whatever tragic reason, regard this postulate with hostility and suspicion. In a further experiment, Pretty Lady cheerfully and habitually agrees to whatever identity these brothers and sisters would like to clothe her in. Pretty Lady is a harlot? Certainly, darling. Pretty Lady is a bitch? Why, of course! How perceptive of you, dear! Pretty Lady is a fraud? See above. Pretty Lady has never claimed to be anything else.

In tedious psychological jargon, this technique is called mirroring. People, in Pretty Lady's experience, generally see what they are looking for. If it is not there, they will still be certain to find it. Pretty Lady simply makes it easy for them. What they see in Pretty Lady, then, after a time, is a more or less accurate view of how they see themselves, their souls, those places they thought were hidden.

Which is why these people make Pretty Lady so sad. She is not sad for herself; as she has taken great pains to indicate, there is no Pretty Lady there to be sad. She is sad for them. She is sad that they are out there, stumbling around, projecting their distorted visions into the world, and then lashing out at those visions as if they were real.

For, to paraphrase Pretty Lady's dear friend, Ken Wilber, 'What if you dreamed you were walking on a tightrope, above an abyss full of snarling monsters, and on the tightrope next to you were everyone you knew? Then, what if you realized it was all a dream, and you could make it come out however you wanted? What would you do?

Well, you'd start doing tricks on the tightrope, of course. You'd bounce up and down, doing back flips, knowing that nothing could hurt you.

The only thing that would make you sad, however, is if your friends in the dream still believed it was real. You would want to assure them that it was okay. That would be your only true concern.'


Anonymous said...

I think too many people have too much time on their hands. I enjoy reading about whatever it is that you find important for the time. Do I hang on every word, of course not. For those who want to find fault here, get a life.

I for one like the image of Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's) typing away. So what if Pretty Lady is not what YOU think she should be, she's probably not what I think she is, but I'm not going to lose sleep.

Ivan Poland

P.S. PL can you sing "Moon River"? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I know the author of PL personally and I can attest that she is in fact, female (I don't like to use the word lady; too many judgmental connotations) and pretty. So where's the fraud?

(I hope I'm not giving away too much!)

Anonymous said...

Who doesn't love the Pretty Lady?

Anonymous said...

It's been noticed that there's more then a few who see you in a negative light based on the belief that underneath all that subtlety rests something they can understand. You're not really clever, smart, attractive and well educated. To these types a lot rests on PL being a very common (like them, not so coincidentally) slut that should be bowing to their ever whim.

Telling tales out of school is not my style so let me just add that if someone is smart, well educated, attractive and very good at what they do, it's hard to play one's self (falsely) in a blog. My dilemma is wishing you were a little more common on one hand, but realizing that if you were my interest would fade quickly.

Anonymous said...

I always seem to say the wrong things, but... I had a very good laugh at those who would denounce you. My laughter isn't so much a judgement as a comment on the absurdity that we sometimes try to pass as concern. I am very happy that you aren't hurt and further that you hold sadness for those who would bite and sting. It truly does go to your character.

In any case, you are loved here, just as you are, in a real way. I do make great efforts to not uncover the mystery of you by imagining you, letting you show or lead as you see fit and when you are ready or interested in doing so. I try very diligently to just take you as you are. I do that because I could not and would not want to own you, just sharing with you, in this genuine way, is a kindness that any beast should appreciate.

Oh, and thank you for writing and sharing. Even though I don't always understand I watch the patterns and see something kind and true in them.

Anonymous said...

I truly find it hard to understand what it is about you that they find offensive.

Maybe they think that you believe that you are above seeing yourself in that mirror. I tend to feel fairly certain that you know that you are at least at times seeing yourself reflected back as you view or judge others.

I think that at times you actually are above that however. I believe that you have glimpsed beyond, or between the folds of, the veil.


Pretty Lady said...

PL can you sing "Moon River"? ;-)

Yes. Badly.

(I hope I'm not giving away too much!)

No, sweetie, I'm the exhibitionist, remember? ;-)

Who doesn't love the Pretty Lady?

Those who hates us, preciousssss...

Seriously, according to the Course in Miracles, there are only two emotions, love and fear. Those who don't love Pretty Lady, by this reasoning, are those who fear her. They might fear her out of jealousy, insecurity, ignorance or sheer lazy indifference, but since she is incapable of attack, obviously this is illogical. And thus a projected nightmare.

if you were my interest would fade quickly.

And thus the horns of the Feminine Dilemma. Our power to fascinate and attach shrinks with inverse proportion to our humanity. And you wonder why we're coy and irrational.

I always seem to say the wrong things, but

Like, 'I always seem to say the wrong things'? That was the only wrong thing I noticed in that whole post. But then, I'm highly biassed and egotistical. A veritable condescending narcissist, I'm told.

you know that you are at least at times seeing yourself reflected back

Indeed, that is the whole purpose of the exercise. It surprises me when some people don't even begin.

Gosh, y'all are great. I feel better now. Sniff.

The Aardvark said...

"y'all are great..."

That's like molasses on a hot buttered biscuit.
'Course, my sweet, I have long held that you are a
actually a 250 lb. ironworker from NJ.

...and you DID swagger and spit...

Chris Rywalt said...

Aard sez:
'Course, my sweet, I have long held that you are a actually a 250 lb. ironworker from NJ.

I'm a 300-pound computer programmer from New Jersey. Is that close enough?

The Aardvark said...

We have not been properly introduced.

...and no.

Anonymous said...

where are these vicious rumors reported? on someone else's website?

Pretty Lady said...

Aardvark, Chris. Chris, Aardvark. Y'all are both into t-shirts. Carry on.

I have long held that you are a
actually a 250 lb. ironworker from NJ.

Shhhh. I'm holding that information in reserve, for the next time I'm accused of Cyber Adultery Most Vile.

where are these vicious rumors reported?

In the Town Square, darling. Of course, Context and Character play a large part, so if you are not a habitué, I do not necessarily recommend it.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
Y'all are both into t-shirts. Carry on.

I get into a t-shirt almost every morning. Some days more than once!

In the Town Square, darling.

That guy called you Cat Lady! Wow!

I'm afraid I got too caught up in the stupidity of the original post -- "Hey, howzabout I quote Crowley here with no attribution and no discussion of his attempts to build a morality without God, and in fact quote Crowley's summation of his system?" -- to really figure out what you and everyone else was arguing about. Also, I just don't care. But I saw where you got called Cat Lady, and I thought that was mean. Also, that you need to get laid. Also mean. As if you couldn't find some guy or guys to throw you in the hay any time you wanted, but happen to be looking for something more.

All around, I think maybe you should stop consorting with these people, realize you're wasted on them, and go do something more important with your time. You're getting soot and mud all over your white light -- it's not worth it.

Pretty Lady said...

You're absolutely right, Chris. I'll go back to spreading dirt, grease and beeswax all over a piece of cloth, with a little stick that has hair on the end of it. Should nicely sublimate my frustrated erotic impulses, too.

Desert Cat said...

(staggering back in from thence...) Mrow! Fft! Jeish! This makes more sense when I see which actors are involved. Claws unsheathed and clicking as I pace, nevertheless I *will* zip my lips against more.

Still, as one cybernetic construct to another, "I love you too, Pretty Lady".

Chris Rywalt said...

I should note, by the way, Pretty Lady, that I have felt it's somewhat disingenuous of you to evince dismay when people are upset at finding out that Pretty Lady is, in fact, just words on a screen. Even if that's all you've ever claimed to be. I couldn't quite put my finger on what bugged me about that, but today while researching trolls for my own blog, I found this under "Troll (Internet)" on Wikipedia. "Joan" was a persona adopted by a man named Alex, who did some bad things online which overflowed into real life. Quoting:

Even those who barely knew Joan felt implicated — and somehow betrayed — by Alex's deception. Many of us on-line like to believe that we're a utopian community of the future, and Alex's experiment proved to us all that technology is no shield against deceit. We lost our innocence, if not our faith.

I've had my innocence trampled on and my faith shaken many, many times over the years, so I try not to pay much attention, emotionally, to things online. But I can still see how people might approach the online world as something of a utopian community. I still feel that idea vibrating deep down when I write my blog.

Pretty Lady said...

it's somewhat disingenuous of you to evince dismay when people are upset at finding out that Pretty Lady is, in fact, just words on a screen.

Of course it's disingenuous for me to evince dismay. Pretty Lady's author is evincing downright amazement that people could be so stupid.

And I do believe the Internet has the possibility to be a utopian community; that's why I do my best to adhere to extremely stringent standards of courtesy, as far as possible without surrender. Genuine courtesy, in the sense that I do my best really not to hurt people, online or in real life. And when it inadvertantly happens, I apologize and do my best to make amends.

That is why I find it utterly disgusting when people toward whom I have made my best efforts respond by treating me like a virtual Tidy-wipe, not out of any real principle, but just in lazy, casual egotism.

Chris Rywalt said...

But you can see they're not necessarily just projecting on Pretty Lady, but are actually lashing out in anger at feeling betrayed?

Pretty Lady said...

Betrayed by what? I'm an Open Book.

Anonymous said...

Hey, anyone want to let us in on what you guys are talking about? I went to that vox site to find the vicious rumors about PL, but couldn't wade through the reams of comments from misogynists and other creeps and gave up. How bout pointing us right to the spot, or giving us a hint of what you're talking about?

Some open book.

mitzibel said...

How sad. That's like accusing your neighbor of planting roses because you're allergic to them, or something equally asshattish.

Anonymous said...

PL, I've never visited your site before, but often come across your wonderful comments at EW's. Not sure what people could be upset about. I've always just assumed you were J.D. Salinger :)

Chris Rywalt said...

PL gasps:
Betrayed by what? I'm an Open Book.

Cf: disingenuous. This is what I mean. You're not an open book, or even an Open Book. Seen from one point of view, you're a manipulative faker. Perhaps that viewpoint involves some basic assumptions to which you've never agreed, but the fact that you didn't sign a physical contract doesn't mean those assumptions are completely invalid. Neither are those assumptions completely invalid because they're not your assumptions.

None of this, if you ask me, means it's okay to call you Cat Lady. We should all be civil. But still, it's unfair to say that other people are simply projecting their own flaws on you. You are clearly, to some degree, counting on their flaws to maintain your tightrope act.

Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and Mitzibel, clearly if you think your neighbor wouldn't plant roses because you're allergic to them, you haven't had the right neighbors.

Herewith I present the Lightbulb War. You might want to make sure you have a comfortable seat, plenty of time, and a supply of cold beverage.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

When I've found the conclusion, I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

Cat lady is an insult? I think it sounds sexy.

Pretty Lady said...

I've always just assumed you were J.D. Salinger

David, coming from you, that may possibly be among my top 10 Best Compliments Ever. Your comments at EW are generally so perfect that I often hang my head and slink away in silence, knowing that I am bested.

You are clearly, to some degree, counting on their flaws

Chris, you have it exactly backwards. When Pretty Lady first blossomed into existence, it never even occurred to me that people would take her for anything but a whimsical persona. She's SO OVER THE TOP!!! Nobody you've ever met in person is the least bit like her, except possibly the Gabor sisters. The next closest fit is the Dowager Duchess from the Peter Wimsey novels, and she's also fictional.

So when people get all betrayed and stuff when they have an inkling that she's Not Real, it genuinely amazes me.

Desert Cat said...

And just what will they say about *me* when they discover I am not at *all* the desert-dwelling feline I pretend to be?

Feline Impostor! Disingenuous Cat Man!! Shattered trust all around...

None of us is entirely who we present ourselves to be online. Desert Cat is not Desert Cat's author, though he frequently bears an uncanny resemblance. Neither is the Pan-Blogtastic Testosterone Gargler really who he struts around pretending to be, or any of the other ilk on that warpath, for that matter. Every one of them put on the mask they want to present and hide what they don't want the 'sphere to see.

By calling attention to Pretty Lady they, by implication, represent that their online persona is who they really truly are. Of course we all want to put our best foot forward, and so it is unconscious, but subtly disingenuous nonetheless.

My question is, what motivates them to present such a nasty, spiteful or catty persona online? They have the choice to present just what they want to, and that's what they choose to project.

In Pretty Lady's case, it should be clear to even the average joe that Pretty Lady is a persona, and a carefully studied one at that. Perhaps what bothers them so is the nagging suspicion that they are doing the very same thing but are not being honest about it.

Pretty Lady said...

Perhaps what bothers them so is the nagging suspicion that they are doing the very same thing but are not being honest about it.

DC, that's one of the most insightful thoughts on this issue I've heard yet. And I also wonder why some people continue repeating the same nasty, spiteful, catty things over and over, with apparently no thought to how this reflects on them, the people they care about, or the institutions they associate themselves with. 'Christian Church under siege' indeed. Crumbling from within, is more like it.

And I very much hope that the PBTG is not who he represents himself to be, or think of this--some woman stupid enough to marry that jackass is out there practicing medicine. Truly a terrifying thought.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
When Pretty Lady first blossomed into existence, it never even occurred to me that people would take her for anything but a whimsical persona.

Well, of course she's a persona. And no, Desert Cat, no one thinks you're an actual cat. I hope. Cats, in my experience, are incredibly stupid, to say nothing of dense.

Everyone accepts that most people online have adopted some kind of persona or avatar. But there's a persistent belief -- a myth, in the sense of mythology, not falsehood -- a belief that your persona is, in some way, closely related to who you are. This belief has been blown apart probably millions of times since the first two people started sending e-mail over the Internet way back in the early 1970s, but, like any myth, it still lives on. Possibly because it's important to some people that at least some aspect of the avatars they meet in virtual space be real.

Remember, not long ago there was that video blogger chick who turned out to be an actress in a fictional blog-based soap opera. And about a hundred years ago people jumped up and ran away when a train came towards them on a movie screen.

Reality is just a consensus. Surely, Pretty Lady, you know that. Virtual reality is even more of a consensus, because it can be essentially anything at all. It is therefore whatever you and I agree it is at this moment. Break that consensus -- however obvious it may be to you that you never agreed to it -- and you make people angry.

I mean, I never signed a contract promising not to kill people. But if I go and kill someone and use as my excuse that, hey, I've got three names like any good serial killer or assassin, well, that's not going to fly. (Christopher George Rywalt, in case you were wondering.)

Oh, and Desert Cat asserts:
None of us is entirely who we present ourselves to be online.

I've said this before, I think, but I'll say it again in case you didn't see it: My goal, for quite a few years now, has been to be entirely myself online. If you meet me and I'm exactly what you expected, then I've succeeded. That's my goal. I have no persona, no avatar, no alias. You can even find my address online and come visit, or find my phone number and call. Hey, Rywalt's not common, and I'm pretty directly related to anyone with that last name, so you can call every Rywalt in the phonebook if you want.

Maybe it's not a virtue -- maybe I'm just cranky and old. A good friend of mine once told me I tend to make my preferences into virtues. But there you go.

Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, and one more quick note for Anonymous up there: Cat Lady is an insult when it means, not "slinky lady dressed up in a skimpy costume with fuzzy ears and a tail for Halloween," but "old spinster living alone with eighteen cats for company." Very different kind of cat lady.

In pictures: Not this Cat Lady, this Cat Lady.

Anonymous said...

I think I may become a combination of those two cat ladies.

Pretty Lady said...

a belief that your persona is, in some way, closely related to who you are.

Well, Pretty Lady's isn't too far off, if the testimony of those who know her well is to be believed. Minus some of the irritating tics, of course. And anyone with the patience and interest to follow the breadcrumbs can pretty much find out the truth, as well.

My habit in online communications is to present myself as a sort of onion, with each progressive layer revealing more. I feel that I have almost no choice in this matter, since my 'essence,' whatever that is, is so complicated that if I try to present it all at once--well, it's just not possible. I assume that most people worth knowing are like this.

Perhaps the persons accusing me of fraudulence are themselves so simple and homogenous of character that this makes no sense to them at all. They're carrots, or beets.

Desert Cat said...

You are who you think you are, and how you present yourself is affected by your own perceptual filters. In "real life", others can watch you, listen to you, gather a whole host of verbal (inflection, etc.) and non-verbal cues about you that no one online will ever see. And they may come to slightly (or sharply) different conclusions than you would come to about yourself, due to their own perceptual filters.

You may believe you are presenting yourself perfectly honestly, and that may be the case, but it is still yourself as *you* see yourself.

Unless you are 1) far more self-aware than average and 2) are also fully aware of the specific perceptual filters of the person you are in online conversation with, and accommodate those differences in the way you present yourself to them online, you are still in control the conversation about "who is Chris Rywalt?"

It's an advantage everyone online shares, whether they are aware of it or not.

Personally I don't really care if someone is or isn't exactly who they present themselves to be, because I recognize just how subjective that judgement is ultimately. And if I'm unlikely to have extensive "real life" dealings with someone, I don't mind at all how elaborate their masquerade.

I like "Pretty Lady" quite a bit, and I'm content with my fantasy that Pretty Lady's author is very much like her, and to the degree she's not, it is a charade that gives her joy and pleasure to act out. She is that princess among women that every little girl aspires to be, waiting for the day her perfect Prince Charming sweeps her up to carry her to paradise. And in the mean time she revels in the joy of being who she is and sharing that joy with others around her.

What's not to like?

I've been accused of being easily deceived in this manner several times in the past. Not true. I see quite well. But I also know that "reality" is often an ugly thing, and die-hard "realists" sometimes seem almost sadistic in their zeal to grind one's nose into it.

I see it just fine. But it is not my mission in life to behold reality in all it's horrific detail and despair. I acknowledge what is, but seek what is to come, and what could be, and what dreams may create in the spaces between, however tenuous.

I recognize too the real power of dreams, of creating and holding steadfastly in one's consciousness an image of beauty and truth and light and harmony (or *whatever* one is creating), until one makes it to BE.

So is "Pretty Lady" real? I submit that so long as Pretty Lady's author fixes her gaze upon this image, holding it in her consciousness and nurturing it with the passion of her heart, caressing it with a brush stroke here and a sweep of the palette knife there, and pouring her soul into Who She Is, then she is as real as anything in this world.

Is that painting in the post above "real"? What is that a picture of? It certainly is only vaguely representational. Meaningless scribbles on a canvas? No. That is a *creation*. From nothing, something profound--held in her soul steadfastly until it *became*.

Lest you think this process is limited to "Artists", consider that the same process is what animates Engineers. Except that in our case our canvas is the world.

Now is it real?

I was not born an engineer (despite The Knack). It was something I became, by steadfast application, and this later in life. That was one of the more significant object lessons along the way. Prior I believed that I Was Who I Was and that "being" was the highest value. I never really believed in Becoming or in the process quite so firmly as I did after experiencing it.

And here's a secret: cyberspace can be a mighty valuable tool in that process when one's self is the canvas.

Anonymous said...

desert cat, that was lovely

Chris Rywalt said...

Yes, Desert Cat, that was absolutely wonderful.

I hadn't ever considered that I was presenting myself as I see myself. I'm not sure I am; I'm not stepping outside of myself when I'm online, trying to match things up. I'm typing as me, the same way when I'm walking I'm walking as me, or getting dressed, getting dressed as me. It may help that I don't play roles or wear masks in real life, either.

But you have an interesting point. I'm not sure we can avoid using some kind of mask at all times. In a sense, I'm always playing myself, whether I realize it or not.

And, just for the record, I was trained as an engineer, so I see what you mean about becoming in that area, also.

I may not have much more to say to you -- I'd hate to go through your comment line by line and respond, that'd be like sacrilege -- but rest assured I won't forget your words soon.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of people are putting forward a personna even if they aren't aware that they are doing it.

We are all phoney to some degree since no one realy knows who they are or what society expects of them.


Anonymous said...

This is the Internet.

Now that I have established my bona fides as a master of the obvious, let me remind everyone that not everyone wishes to display all of themselves for the public. The semi-anonymity of the blogosphere allows people to express themselves in ways that they might not normally be able to, for good or for worse.

Some of us have careers that frown on individuality and taste, and to express anything contrary to the compulsory conformity and vulgarity places our livelihoods at some risk. We have made these career choices for various reasons, and while the crowd here may pass judgement on that, we live with the reality of it daily.

We all make choices as to how much to reveal to strangers, to our co-workers, and to the world. Why should this place be any different? If someone wishes to completely bare their soul and identity on the Internet then I applaud their courage, while wondering at their motives and frankly, their sanity.

Allow me to give you an example. Years ago I was introduced to a famous ballet star who had defected from the Soviet Union. He became a friend of my father's, and after knowing him for years, I still knew next to nothing about the man. Did this prevent the friendship, or merely provide a framework in which to communicate? He was an intensely private person despite genuine stardom, and no one derided him for his silence. However, here in the blogosphere to not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is seen for some reason as a high crime.

I see nothing wrong with a persona, a construct, and to me it's simply common sense. Like our gracious hostess admits, it is not difficult to truly track someone down given the will to do so, but why would you? Unless invited, it's an intrusion.


Chris Rywalt said...

Crom: I was just going through my e-mail archive and I found this, a quote from a friend of mine, from almost ten years ago, which I should keep in mind more often:

You don't know if it's a hoax? HELLO! It's the goddam internet.

Yes it is.

Chris C. said...

Re Pretty Lady's unhappy participation at VoxDay: "She who lie down with dogs, get up with fleas."

Just sayin'.

Pretty Lady said...

So, JD, I take it you're a cat person? ;-)