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The Veil: not naked yet

May 13th, 2005 · 3 Comments

Wendy has been shopping for veils, to her own surprise. Her post on her wedding plans in progress helped me remember my own veil.

bridalveil.jpg

Our current customs for nuptials originated from several different sources, according to this site. When I was getting married I didn’t know that the veil had once been a way to protect brides from evil spirits. I had my own ideas about what I was doing.

My veil was a feminine expression of my vow of fidelity and intimacy to Ted. It symbolized that I was promising to reveal myself to him and to let him know me in an intense and sacred sense, in a relationship special and sealed to the two of us as long as we both shall live.

When the veil was pulled away from my face during the ceremony, it meant to me that we were beginning a new depth and transparency to our union. No longer would I be behind a veil, but I would be raw and real. I would hide nothing from him. Not my face. Or my body. Or my soul.

During our dating, Ted and I set limits on our relationship. We held back from each other. We had boundaries, emotionally, spiritually, physically. We wanted to save the most intimate pieces of ourselves as presents for whomever we would marry. Until January 25, 1992, neither of us knew for sure that the other one of us would be The One. So we kept our distance. In a sense we were wearing veils.

Blogging sometimes reminds me of dating. I’m trying to reveal myself and be known. I’m trying to build relationships. But there are limits. As when I dated Ted, I find myself at times pulling back, stopping conversations, failing to finish posts, turning away from paths I can’t take at this time in public space. It feels frustrating and disappointing. The veil seems thick and awkward in moments.

The word naked has been used to describe blogging in a couple recent examples that come to mind. I’m looking forward to attending the How to Be Naked session at BlogHer where bloggers will share how they handle revealing aspects of their personal lives on-line. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have titled their book-in-progress Naked Conversations.

However I would argue that blogging is not nakedness. Conversations come from social context [for example, read danah boyd's work] . Who we are changes depending on where we are. Out in public space, none of us can afford to be naked. There are words we don’t write, emotions we can’t show, experiences and beliefs we hide from view.

We are aching for the real, wrote Evelyn Rodriguez. We long to be intimate with each other. To be who we are. We long for truth. We long to touch. Blogging allows us to come close – to come close to each other and to ourselves. If we are brave, we can type and say the insides of our souls for the world to see. But yet, I believe, there is always a veil.

I want to clarify my point with contrast: Blogging is real. Contrary to New Yorker jokes, I am not a dog on the other side of this screen. I am no mystery. I am me. And I am offering myself. I am seeking connection and finding it.

Bainbridge Beat, a local anonymous blogger, commented on Chris Holmes’ Bainbridge Blogger Bash report with this insight:

Sounds like an awful lot of fun, though I maintain that part of the fun of this online stuff is in not knowing the true identities of one’s online buds.

Anonymity has its place and need. It is a type of veil that can protect. But I disagree with Bainbridge Beat. I like to know who is on the other side of the screen, who is writing what I’m reading. I want to get to know people. And I want to be known. That’s why I’m here.

Connections happen. It can be fun, fast and refreshing. As Dave Pollard recently wrote

Although I don’t pretend the experience is as rich as making a new friend in person, the fact that online communities are self-selecting means you get past mere acquaintanceship faster, and don’t have to put up with people who are only there because they have to be, or because they want something from you, the way you do in ‘real’ life.

We can be concerned for people we’ve never met. When tequila mockingbird didn’t post for weeks, Postmodern Sass and others began wondering what had happened to her, calling out to other bloggers to help find her.

We can invite strangers into our homes and lives. Nancy White in a post titled Strangers and Imaginary Friends Staying at Your House described these relationships as It is a set of trust connections that, for the most part, makes it easier to say yes to Strangers Staying at Your House. . She linked to Susan Mernit’s questions on social connections and both Susan and Nancy linked to Lee LeFevre’s story of trusting a stranger who came to stay at his house. For BloggerCon II, I remember arriving in Boston and searching the airport for my host: I had never met her, only read her blog.

Reading Kalily’s post soliciting advice on blogging ethics, I realized from the comments of anonymous blogger r@d@r that I had different guidelines. Since I am seeking relationships, flesh and blood ties to be born from my blogging, I am more open about some details, such as my family life, and I try to always post truth, but I don’t feel safe posting very sensitive and/or embarrassing subjects. At least not yet. r@d@r wrote it’s not important enough for honesty.. Maybe I’m silly but I believe blogging is important enough for honesty. So here I am. As much of me as I can reveal. The rest is silent. The rest is veiled.

Besides the fabric women wear while walking down the aisle, there are other veils, symbols of hiding ourselves. Even Bono wears one.

The following quote is taken from a post quoting the book Bono in Conversation with Mishka Assayas [via Beth at U2 Sermons]

Assayas: What about your own sunglasses, then? Do you wear them the same way a taxi driver would turn off his front light, so as to signal to God that this rock star is too full of himself and not to hire at the moment?

Bono: Yeah, my insincerity… I have learnt the importance of not being earnest at all times. You don’t know what’s going on behind those glasses, but God, I can assure you, does. (53-54)

Bono is also quoted as saying

Coolness might help in your negotiation with your world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw.

Bono explained my one comfort. I long to be real. I long to be raw. But blogging has its limits. It’s not me you see here but a veiled version.

Even in my own marriage I’m not completely naked or known. We are two human beings in love, passionate but imperfect. We’ll never know each other fully or understand the other half of our marriage. That doesn’t mean I didn’t mean it when I vowed my intimacy and fidelity to my husband. I will be as open as I can. But there will always be a bit of veil.

It’s impossible to meet God with sunglasses on. Someday I believe we will be real in the way we long to be. We will be known deeply down to the ache of nakedness. There will be no more sunglasses or insincerity. Someday the veil will be taken away.

Tags: blog

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 will // May 13, 2005 at 7:32 am

    bonos a cock and you take these blogging far too seriously

  • 2 Daniel Conover // May 13, 2005 at 9:35 am

    Julie:

    Thank you for this post. The easiest (and, therefore, the most common) approach to blogging is to assume a hard-boiled, confident pose and then bludgeon the world with it. The reality is that the more alive you are, the more complex your thoughts and reactions become. How much of this should we show to the world?

    It takes guts to write about this, as “will” so eloquently proved. “bonos a cock and you take this blogging far to seriously.” The only “safe” position online is angry, blunt and cynical.

    Well, we all walk this line one way or another. Thanks for addressing it.

  • 3 Chris // May 13, 2005 at 8:59 pm

    Blogging is writing. Writing is Life. Life is serious.

    Thanks for helping me to re-realize that.