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Forging Identity on the Internet

I exist on the internet in a way I don't in the material world. I have an identity here that has taken me many years to craft and mould. There are literally thousands of people who know this digital me but who could easily walk past me on the street. Usually, I like this. I like the fact that I exist in the minds of others in a thousand different incarnations. It depends which of my stories they've read, or at which point of design they began to visit my site.

I have a very close relationship with my regular blog readers. And some of them forge close relationships with each other. They argue about what one of my characters should have done, or how I could resurect one that I killed off. They dream about my settings, or about being at the mercy of one of my deviants.

You'd think I'd be thrilled when, suddenly, about 5,000 new visitors turn up on my site.

Well, not really. I've recently been getting a huge number of hits from a site called "YouPorn.com". Some of you may think I'm mincing genres, but I don't write porn. I write erotica. And I'm mighty pissed off when thousands of people descend on my site looking for a quick hit of wank material. For a start, they're going to be disappointed; I'm big on literary foreplay. Secondly, even if they do make it through the first 3,000 words or so, the most they're probably going to leave with is a baseline hum of arousal. And that's only if the particular story they've read doesn't have a nasty sting in the tale - which many of mine have.

The fact that people turn up at my site, looking for porn, pains me. I'd like to say that I like porn as much as the next person, but I don't. I fucking hate porn.

I hate the simplistic, automatization of human desire. I hate the pouty lips, the spherical breasts and the glycerine shine on splayed cunts. I hate the shininess of it all, and the half-witted semiotics. I hate the forever-hard, forever-wet portrayal of arousal perpetua. It's not an issue of degredation. We're all being degrade, all the time; just walk into a supermarket and listen to your "want' wires humming.

It's the total absence of desire. Only an infant can feel desire for what it gets instantly.

It pisses me off that I'm being linked to by something that manufactures lust in the blink of an eye. Where's the seduction? The wooing? The glorious, slow upward spiral into the vortex of desire?

I guess, ultimately, YouPorn and I are peddling the same thing. But I kiss my readers before I fuck them.

6 Comment count
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Links and such...

Welcome to Red Room Remittance Girl:

Hopefully you'll find stimulating and smart conversation here, with a wide variety of writers from around the world.

I read your bio and was intrigued by the fact that you live in Vietnam. What is it like, working and writing there and was there any particular reason you choose it as your new home? I hope I don't seem to be rude or prying, but I'm often very curious about new writers who join us here...

Have a wonderful week

Thomas Dotson - Red Room Staff.

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Hello Thomas

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Hmmm Vietnam. Well, it is not quite as charming as it once was. It's turning into another huge, very polluted Asian metropolis. But it still has enormous charms - far better to live here than to visit.

Working here is fun. I teach multimedia design and narrative. It's very fulfilling because there is literally no other institution teaching this sort of thing at a theoretical level (there are lots of polytechnics teaching people how to use Photoshop, but conceptual design and content creation, no.)

I feel very privileged to be able to encourage my students to find their own, culturally unique vocabulary with which to navigate and participate in the creation of new media. It's hard to get people from developing countries to stop seeing what they have to offer, their work, their stories, as less valuable than western ones. Vietnam is at a very fragile place, I think. My students need to have their experiences, and the knowlege they bring to the table valued and validated. While still imparting the discipline of solid concepts and technological skills necessary to allow them to compete with the rest of the world.

Writing here... is problematic. Hence the pseudonym.

I chose Vietnam because I'd come for a month's visit in 1996 and fell in love with the place. I was working for a television company in the UK at the time, and feeling very much like the shift of a couple of pixels left or right was taking on absurd importance. It paid well, but was giving me deep bouts of existential angst. Hence the move. I'm extremely happy I did it.

I've been here almost 10 years now. Longer than I've ever stayed anywhere in my life. So, it's not really a "new" home for me anymore.

And you're not rude at all for asking. Thanks for being curious and for peeking in on my blog.




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Just read your blog and love

Just read your blog and love the mystery and, yes, the romance of an expat writing about desire in Vietnam. Fascinating stuff and I applaud your wish to underscore to your students that their culture and history is valid, valuable even in face of the encroaching, ballooning West.

Belle Yang

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Why thank you, Miss

Why thank you, Miss Belle!

I'm not sure exactly how much romance there is to writing about desire in Vietnam. Like China, Vietnam has only recently developed full-blown consumer mania, and embraced it with amazing gusto. This is "gimme" on a monstrous scale. Young, sharp-toothed eaters of every kind of saleable commodity. And a lot of things that probably shouldn't be for sale, too.

I hope I'm not an "expat" in the nasty sense of the word. I hope I'm just like all the other grandmas gathered in little clutches, sitting on the sidewalks shaking their heads and muttering: "Young people today! No sense of values, no filial piety."

I'd certainly rather think of myself as a cranky granny instead of a post-colonial ghost. But I could be fooling myself.

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Porn vs. Erotica

I think it absolutely essential to discriminate between porn and erotica and I'm glad to see where you line up on the issue. I wrote a posting about some of the search terms people were using to find my site--there have been some weird ones, numero uno being "self-pissing for pleasure". Yoiks! Obviously I agree, we want people finding our sites for the RIGHT reasons but that's hard to control. Let folks pop in for a quick look, see if what's there is/isn't for them and then, if they like, move on to other places more conducive to their type of "fun". And, meanwhile, pad those blog numbers...

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Porn vs. Erotica

Oh this is the thorniest of subjects on the writers' list I belong to. About once a year we have a huge stinking fight about it. All the vaguely literary writers line up on one side, and the publishable ones line up on the other. The lines were so much easier to draw before we started using dirty words ;-P

Meanwhile, I get all the hits I could want and more. I feel like a salesman in a hat shop where people keep poking their heads in and asking if I sell vacuum cleaners. Nah... it's creeping me out.