Tuesday, June 29, 2010
AM I ME OR AM I YOU?
They’re saying that I’m really Tim Barrus. Not that I’m Tim Barrus’ co-writer, but that Tim made me up. I’m flattered that they think my writing sounds like Tim Barrus, but then they can’t tell one person’s writing from another. That’s because they rarely read it. They like oral scandal. Harder to trace.
Who are they? I run across them now and then. If they’re in Montana, they’re bound to be in Missoula or Butte. If they’re on the rez, they’re bound to be in the three resort towns, usually in a bar. It’s always a little mysterious where their money comes from. They used to show up on www.2blowhards.com all the time, not so much as the regular posters but in the comments, more likely. They know ALL about everything. Because they SAY so. No doubt their mothers agree with them about that. And everyone they know in Manhattan. They’re the Entitled Generation. They Know Everything and edit Wikipedia, so the masses can become enlightened. At least as far as their term papers go. They are conservative -- they don’t want to lose their status -- but they love porn -- that’s what their status is for.
When I first started corresponding with Tim, I got warnings from friends. In some ways it’s my own fault because years ago for April Fool’s Day I invented a long story about how I’d fallen in love with a three-hundred-pound Samoan man half my age and would be moving to Samoa soon, except that his mother really didn’t approve of me. But we were soul mates and so on. I was highly entertained that so many people believed this tale. Of those people, half congratulated me and remarked on what a wonderful thing love is to transcend all barriers of culture and age. The other half were concerned -- “Oh, it’s not going to work out and your heart will be broken and think of that young man’s future, after all!”
Of course, some of these same people had watched my romance with Bob Scriver, warning me away from him and pointing out the enormous difference in age and culture and predicting that I would soon lose interest. After twelve years I got pushed out, but I never lost interest. In fact, he’s dead and I’m STILL interested.
When we started corresponding, even Tim didn’t quite believe that I was real. Once he asked me to post some photos of my growing-up years, showing me with family. He has stalkers and spies, you know, and he thought I might be one of them. Sometimes I think he still wonders whether I’m real. I might be Marie of Roumania.
Not that I would mind. When I was a little kid, my family used to take Sunday drives up the Columbia River to the Maryhill Museum where Marie of Roumania’s coronation gown, cloth of gold encrusted with diamonds, is on display along with her golden (and very square) carved throne. She was quite lovely. Alas, I can tell I’m not Marie. She had one of those 17-inch corseted waists. Tim’s wife Tina would fit into that gown. Not me. (www.maryhillmuseum.org) Very nice short vid there about art.)
Anyway, after being fooled by that Samoan (I think they really just WANTED to believe in him!) my friends were suspicious of Tim and went straight to Wikipedia to get the TRUTH. Oh, no!! I was co-writing with Rasputin! There was no Evil beyond him! After all, he had written three books in which he pretended to be half-Navajo! Few things are such ghastly acts of betrayal -- at least since the actual prairie clearance massacres -- as claiming to be a Native American. Esp. when indignation is good advertising for an NA stand-up comedian who needs a little boost. (The secret thing this guy and Tim really shared was agony over a disabled son.)
Everything is turning out pretty well between Tim and I, considering that the publishing industry is down the drain. I mean, Tim and I co-write day after day after day, preparing for the time when some kind of “publishing” re-constitutes itself and is ready for words both spoken and printed, mixed with video, music, and whatever else we think of. Tim wants to be published more than I do, but he has real work in his real life. I don’t give a rip about fame and fortune. I’m retired.
When I was working with Bob Scriver, he instructed me that I was the subordinate, that I should not get the big head or imply to others that I was doing anything except what I was told. Actually, of course, I was up to my elbows and sometimes over my head in what was happening, but he said that people expect an artist to be in charge, to be the only genius. So I agreed. But Tim is not like that. He believes in equals. That’s partly the difference between someone born in 1950 versus someone born in 1914, and partly a matter of personality. But I love it. It’s inspiring.
Maybe I ought to be angry at these guys who think I’m only an assistant person for Tim, a sock-puppet, the way Bob asked me to pretend to be. To them it’s a further demonstration that their interpretation of the world is rock solid. They will not change it and they will not accept any evidence that would ask them to. They will not believe that I’m the co-writer of “Orpheus Pressed Up Against the Windows of the Catacombs,” even though I’m sending out the queries and my name is all over it. They say the boys helped write it, but they also say the boys don’t exist. In fact, anything they don’t like simply doesn’t exist except for Tim Barrus.
They crave Tim Barrus. If they thought I was real and if they really wanted to know the truth about Tim Barrus, they might ask me. But they don’t want to know. They don’t want to talk to me. They make no contact with me. (They don’t like girls anyway.) They just want to get their hands on Tim Barrus: it’s a love/hate thing, I guess. It was there before the Nasdijj scandal. It was even there when he was a little kid. Charisma, I suppose. Bob had it, too. Dangerous. It attracts abuse.
How do you relate to a person with charisma that everyone wants to get their hands on? Well, it’s a helluva lot easier when it’s only in print. (I’ve never met Tim, I keep saying.) I mean, when you’re eating and sleeping and working all day every day with such a person, things get a little “fraught.” Ask those boys, those “unreal” boys. Now and then everyone has to stop and sort things out. Bob and I didn’t get to do that. The dramas got way too intense. I don’t miss that part, but it sure supplies a lot of writing material.
At least Tim and the boys read it. And I read what they write. Because there is no better way to get really close to a person than by reading their writing when it’s real and it’s true. If you can tell that’s what it is. The first way is to give up your entitlement. Marie of Roumania did.