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an introduction: why a rodent? (10-24-0)

Coming soon, an irregular (read: unscheduled and it'll appear whenever I feel like writing it) column from me. If you're actually reading this introduction before any columns are available, chances are you know exactly who I am. You know me by the name lemming or by my real name, robert, or both. I suppose somewhere inside I?m hoping this column will somehow transcend even my own imaginings and somewhere down the line someone will find this introduction in the archives after finding reference to my column on some search engine or wherever. So, for those of you who already know me, bear with me. An introduction of sorts is in order.

My name's Robert. I'm 24. Online I am known by the name of lemming (around delphi mostly). I've also got a few instant messenger programs and names and plenty of email accounts, but for now, we'll leave the specifics to that.

Whether or not you're asking yourself why I?m known as lemming, I?ll tell you. I picked that name for a couple reasons. First of all, I have often used the whole rodent motif as a representative thing for myself. I've never really wanted to be famous, I?ve never wanted to be rich. But, I want to be known and I want to be able to make a living doing what I enjoy, writing. I want to be not some mammoth bestselling author that everyone knows as some brandname. I don't want every household to have copies of a bunch of my books, hardly any of them having actually read them, most of them just accepting some media induced viewpoint as to what I am and what my subjects are. I'd rather stay small. I'd rather gnaw tirelessly at the bottom of the heap, just barely getting by than leap to the top, become some insanely rich guy that ends up buying a football team or a few private jets or some stupidly large mansion that I?ll never fill. Stick me in a one room apartment with access to television, movies, books, comic books, magazines, and the internet, give me a tiny income, just enough to get by, and I?d probably stick around forever, writing and writing, hacking away at novel after novel, short story after short story, script after script, keeping my tiny little audience entertained and happy, and as often as possible getting them to think as well.

It's weird, though; I?m already past that. Sure, the income is pretty much nothing, I?ve got student loan debts that will take forever to pay off, and I don't get out as much as I probably should. But, I?ve got some friends (most of them online, I?ll admit), some good friends, people who care about me, people who'd read my work even if it was crap. And, how do I know at this point that it's not, really? I have been branching out though. A year ago, I had a 10 part story I sent out by email, the audience getting a little bigger with each part. And, for the most part, people liked it. Some people even loved it. And, damn it, it was nice to have feedback, even if in the end they were just friends and family, people who might not have even had a clue what quality is. Afterall, they live in this world, in this society, where the top moneymakers out of Hollywood are big budget pieces of shit put together out of bits and pieces stolen from a hundred previous films with some lavish special effects slapped on, maybe a few big name stars, maybe even one or two with some real talent (most likely wasting it for a bigger paycheck, the sycophants), and the masses flock to it. Man's always been fascinated by shiny things, by bright things, big explosions, cheap throwaway dialogue that doesn't require much concentration. You try to argue against the propagation of this crap and most people will say they just go to movies to be entertained. Nevermind that intelligent films are entertaining too. Nevermind that with the right combination of writing (and damn it, people need to understand how important writing is to films, even if the filmmakers themselves often don't) and direction and acting and production can create something not only entertaining, not only stimulating to the simple pleasures, with bright sights and loud sounds, but also stimulating to something deeper, making us think, maybe even making us question things we've previously held to be truths. Now, I should probably throw out some examples. But, what's the point? It's not like this little rant of mine will get you to see any one film. And, if I list a hundred, you'll maybe spot at least one you've already seen, and if you enjoyed it for its basic entertainment then you will most likely miss my point, and if you saw how it was more intellectually stimulating, then chances are, you're smart enough to already understand everything I?ve just said.

Of course, then whom am I talking to? I'm not out to grab the people who are already sure they just see movies or watch television shows or read books or comic books because they're entertaining, distracting, because they let you escape for a short time the stresses of your real life. And, I don't want the people who understand that every artform and every genre within those artforms is capable of transcending its medium, grabbing people by their brains and forcing them to submit, to concentrate, to think for god's sake. Both of those groups are welcome to read this. Hell, as much as I say I?d like to stay small, everyone is welcome to read this, or to go to my other webpage and read some of my fiction I?ve got on there, or to email me or talk to me by instant message and ask for more stories or, god forbid, even pay me for the rights to publish any of this stuff properly. But, right now, what I want, what I really want, is those people who aren't sure, those people who know something's wrong with how simplistic films are but still see them anyway, because that jump over to something better seems too drastic, those people that read the bestsellers simply because their lives, they think, are so stressful they don't have the time to make up their own minds about what they like and what they don't. I want people who think they know how the world works but couldn't really try to explain it if you asked them to. I want the people who understand that sometimes a story is just a story but sometimes, the story has meaning, hidden or right there spelled out on its surface. I want people who understand that sometimes life has no meaning but the story you're reading does. I want, hell, I want anyone who'll listen.

And, so it begins. A little defense of Hitler (go ahead and make whatever assumption you want from just that mention, since the subject is going to be assumptions) was supposed to be the main subject here, but I guess that will come in the next column. And, there's plenty to say about college and high school, and the whole educational system we've got (I spent an hour or two talking to a friend of mine about this today), and plenty to say about plenty of things. So, maybe you'll stick with me. Maybe you won't. Maybe you're looking at this for the first time a week or a month or a year down the line, running down an archive of tons of columns or just a few, wondering what I was up to way back when. Maybe I?m famous, maybe I?m not. Maybe you're reading this right after it's been written and I?m still nobody to most, and somebody to several, and someone really important to a select few. Whatever I am, whenever I am, I?m still just a rodent in the grander scheme of things. But even a rodent, from time to time, can chew on a cord until an entire house burns down. Even a rodent can carry a plague that can kill thousands or millions. Even a rodent can tell a story or give a speech and have people listen. And if you don't want to listen to closely, just look at that little guy in the logo, cause he's so damn cute it's sickening.