Monday, October 15, 2007

Jesse and Janna

The internet, as I've said before, is not only stranger than you imagine, but stranger than you can imagine. The L.A. Weekly has a long article by Josh Olson on an internet romance gone bad, which is well worth the time to read to its conclusion.

If you've spent any time on these here series of tubes, you'll probably find the story itself is fairly stock. I suspected who "Jesse" would turn out to be by page 2, and you probably will too. But Olson's writing is excellent - although weirdly imitative of Harlan Ellison's style in his non-fiction heyday - and Ellison himself plays a major role in the cast of characters.

And because the internet is the internet, there's more of course. You should read the article first to get the full impact, and then you can go watch - I kid you not - the YouTube video of Janna's eviction, and then you can go read "Audrey's" current blog. This is not the "I saw a cloud. It looked like a giraffe. Jesse would have liked it" blog that Olson refers to in his article, but a post-Janna blog that links to various pieces and snippets of other older blogs - both by "Audrey" and "Janna" and "Jesse" among a ghost cast of thousands, which will probably confuse the hell out of most readers as it did me.

My first reaction to all this was that it was some elaborate Ellison & Friends LonelyGirl15 statement on the sad state of the internet, of which Harlan is no fan. I mean, why is the writer of the screenplay of A History of Violence producing an article that reads so much like an Ellison pastiche that it could be called Valerie, A True Memoir - Part 2? Do all of "Audrey's" friends have such a lousy relationship with her that they have to haul in a writer who she barely knows - albeit admires - for an intervention? I mean, hell, I was a great admirer of the late John D. MacDonald, but I'd be a little weirded out if he called me on the phone, told me I needed to go to his house right now, and then have him tell me that I was being misused in a personal relationship.

But it's probably real - although sad for all involved. And whatever their motivations, "Audrey" and friends getting heavily into revenge on Janna with the public video and blog just make the story sadder.

I originally found the story on BoingBoing where, I'm happy to say, the insufferable Cory Doctorow also recently got his comeuppance from Ursula K. LeGuin. I'm not a particular fan of LeGuin from a personal standpoint - she's as prickly and intractable in person as Joanna Russ - but it was nice to see her turn her not minor energies on Doctorow, who had posted a one-paragraph story of hers from another source complete on BoingBoing, and had even removed the original copyright notice.

Doctorow's "apology" is full of self-justification and rationalizations including my favorite: "...how would one quote a double-dactyl or a haiku [then]?" And the answer is, you can't Cory, unless you're given permission. It was nice to see him taken down a peg or two.

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