cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Being Stephen Fry

No detailed idea what it must really be like: he has started writing on Stephen Fry, so we are surely going to get a better idea.

He’s in our minds, of course, with the documentaries he’s doing, which are jolly good: although about discrete subjects, they are also largely about Being Stephen Fry as well, which is not a bad thing with someone we all seem to think is substantial as well as good fun and interesting. Fry-type preferable to Theroux-type, for me, for its greater verisimilitudinousness. One is reminded of Malcolm Muggeridges’ strictures on TV being a lying medium when watching Theroux.

The two-part examination of manic-depression or Bipolar Affective Disorder as they call it nowadays, and his own cyclothymia, in The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive seemed pretty honest to me – as was HIV and Me – but I did not like it when he went on a minor spending spree because there was no moral consequence for him of profligacy : the vast majority of severe bipolars who spend what they haven’t got end up in big trouble. They are not rich. Why didn’t he just say he liked to spend then go find someone who did the same (and had no money) in order to demonstrate the terrible consequences?

: :

[removed central section because it was ill-thought, saying not very much and mostly wrong]
In life we rarely reveal everything about ourselves: who we are is partly predicated on acting out a part we chose. When I-write, the first person in a novel, I can never tell the truth that the omniscient impersonal narrator can.

Maybe we should treat Stephen Fry meta-narratively? He is everywhere, so is to all “in tents and porpoises ” a grand discourse in his own right. He’s a bit like a gas which expands to fill the available space, in the nicest possible way of course. As well as all his veritable accomplishments in comedy, film, writing, and documentary he’s even giving sage advice on videojug.


Daniel Wegner’s 1999 paper, The Seeds of Our Undoing.

The last but one paragraph:

Another line of evidence suggesting a role for ironic processes in the etiology of some disorders comes from studies of what happens when mental control is rescinded. The best examples of such work are the series of experiments by James Pennebaker and colleagues. When people in these studies are encouraged to express their deepest thoughts and feelings in writing, they experience subsequent improvements in psychological and physical health. Expressing oneself in this way involves relinquishing the pursuit of mental control, and so eliminates a key requirement for the production of ironic effects. After all, as suggested in other studies conducted in my lab with Julie Lane and Laura Smart, the motive to keep ones thoughts and personal characteristics secret is strongly linked with mental control. Disclosing these things to others, or even in writing to oneself, is the first step toward abandoning what may be an overweening and futile quest to control one’s own thoughts and emotions.

The last sentence :

When we relax the desire for the control of our minds, the seeds of our undoing may remain uncultivated, perhaps then to dry up and blow away.

Useful in examining why we write on the web as opposed to in a private place. What is it that makes us decide that one thing can be public and another private? I find it difficult to put too much personal detail into blogs, though I let free rein to my thoughts: it must be IKWYL Syndrome. But there another element of reticence: it is too easy, by publishing on a blog, to demonstrate how limited one’s intelligence is! It is often written too quickly and there is not the research, thinking and elimination of much of the flotsam and jetsam that often comes into consciousness.

J B Priestly:

Many a man is praised for his reserve and so-called shyness when he is simply too proud to risk making a fool of himself

Andre Dubos

Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.

And it is to narcissism and blogging in particular that I will return when I have done a bit more reading.

Finally: the distinction between hypergraphia and graphomania. One for Stephen perhaps? Why not a QI question! Don’t worry you can have that one for free. The scenario would be even more annoying than the one fleshed out in the two dialogues in Let Fame.


The original real reason for starting this post – just remembered – was to to examine the notion that some people are determinedly happy to muscle in on someone famous’ life (a nice example in Fryworld, the FaceBook debacle {1} {2 }), while others are more circumspect.

In the early days of weblogs, there was a lot of “Why am I blogging?” going on. I had a go in Weblogword, along the lines of it’s like writing Post It! notes, getting into the car and sticking them randomly to telegraph poles in the middle of the countryside.


Now then, how many times have I used I in this post and where are the letters of John Cheever? I have recently learned that he started using the personal pronoun in his personal correspondence and fiction as he got more famous.

October 5, 2007 Posted by | celebrity, Fame, fiction, Irony, John Cheever, Navel-gazing, non-fiction, Writing | Leave a comment