Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reasons for Reticence

There seems to be a general revulsion towards distance or reclusiveness in many people: they find that they must know details about prominent people who, for reasons of their own, now wish to be out of the public eye. 

Some of that may be because of the assumption that their reticence is because they have something to hide.  The sequence goes this way:  Someone keeps a low profile.  Therefore, he has something to hide.  But there are exceptions as well.  For example, where are the idiots from the Insane Clown Posse, and what are they doing?  If you're reminded of them, you may give a pained look in remembrance, but be thankful that they haven't been seen lately.

No, it's especially likely that people who are known to wish to drop out, just can't do so conveniently.  Unfortunately!

Take the case of Greta Garbo, who might have paradoxically inspired interest by her famous remark "I vant to be alone."  She sounded so European and jaded and mysterious -- a publicist's dream.  And then there's that case of Sister Judith: a former Hollywood actress once named Dolores Hart, who left acting and became a nun.  And stayed that way.  Now actresses usually leave the trade by default: they can't get roles.  And they're expected to always desire to return to trip the light less-than-fantastic.  But to have one run off to become a nun when she was getting roles, that was unheard of!  So naturally writers or reporters visit this poor nun and intrude on her spirituality or reclusiveness or her new life to find out what she's about.  And the reasons she would give them, even though truthful, were as totally foreign to them as if she was from outer space. 

Literary figures also come into the picture.  Consider the long-isolated J. D. Salinger: occasional books or short stories, but no interviews.  Or Harper Lee.  She wrote one huge best-seller, To Kill a Mockingbird, but none others.  Was it because she had only one book in her, or she found the celebrity status that went with that kind of author status to be uncomfortable, or maybe she did not suffer fools interviewing her very gladly?  I got the impression that she was an original; and you must expect that originals will do things that most people might not also do.

Thomas Pynchon, whoever he is, did it successfully.  He wrote three major works, V., The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow.  But kept well under the radar.  I applaud his reticence; and in no way consider that he or other recluses have any obligation to satisfy my curiosity by telling all.

For some literary recluses, it may simply be that they need time for their own thoughts and the serious works of writing and correcting text.  They delibreately separate themselves from distractions.

A little personal story:  For a while I lived alone in a cabin by the Honey Island Swamp and worked as a swamp tour guide.  Apparently, there were some people who heard about me and whose feverish imaginations conceived of me as a wild swamp girl!  Yea!  And I hang out with the Honey Island Swamp Monster!  [Google that!]  Sadly, I think I substantially disappointed them when they finally saw me!

My thought is that these private, different people inadvertently develop an aura about themselves through their not being seen.  While not intended by them, people tend to fill in the gaps and complete a story.  It's kind of a cognitive tendency toward closure, as a Gestalt psychologist would say. 




14 comments:

Banana Oil said...

I can imagine you as a wild swamp girl, hunting gators while wearing a risqué costume!

Full Cup Balcony said...

I thought Garbo used that as an attention-getting ploy.

You are the only person I've encountered who reported on her belly button in her blog.

Mike said...

'..people tend to fill in the gaps'.

It's a human condition to make stuff up to fill in the gaps. 99.9% of the time the made up stuff is wrong.

Grand Crapaud said...

That swamp monster is living pretty close to New Orleans. Must be a Saints fan.

Sinner Bob said...

Just try not having a Facebook page, and they will think you're hiding something.

Big Sky Heidi said...

You're right -- people get interested in you if you try to be private.

But ten there's the very public Kardshians.

Anonymous said...

Nice swamp girl I like them dirty.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

The less we see the more we want to know

Grand Crapaud said...

The H.I.S. is a wild place.

Bilbo said...

"The less we see, the more we want to know." Andrea is absolutely right. And so is Heidi ... the last thing in the WORLD I want to know is anything else about a Kardashian.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Me too.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Especially on weekends.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Mlle Juliette, I believe in full disclosure, just like you do.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I am a friend to gators.