Do you think that a persona is necessary in a career as a writer? Are there ways of getting around this in the 21st century?
Do you have a spare persona that you can lend me? I would very much like one. Which is to say: there is a lot packed into your question, regarding mediation of experience and self and how the activity of writing has come, in this century, due to the increasing ubiquity of computational processes and personal devices, to be a means by which we appear in public, whether we consider ourselves writers, in the sense of authors, or not.
In some sense, I consider myself a writer. This might be “Lucy’s job.” But in another sense, I consider myself a writer, which just means that I consider myself a human being who makes use of the internet and/or who happens to be alive during this period in history. Everyone is a writer now, and literature’s once-special role in the making of the interrelationship between the private and public spheres is changing—since, as danah boyd recently put it, today everything is public and you have to put in work to make things private (I paraphrase; I don’t think she means this absolutely, by the way, given the state of our government, etc.). The novel used to function as a massive info leak, and I think of authors as once having had personas in order to protect their privacy, as they went about making hidden things public. There is a new calculus at play, of course, given the contemporary relationship to data. While I don’t think that the new role of literature is to “make public things private,” in some sort of reversal of the old effect, it is worth thinking more about how literature can continue to give access to information; maybe this isn’t by leaking, per se, but rather by enacting a different sort of gesture in relation that which is not entirely obvious.
Read the full interview here.