My Books

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The Facebook of Dorian Gray

Portrait of an honest face.

Portrait of an honest face.

How old am I?

None of your business.

Where am I now?

Who wants to know?

What is my hometown?

Oh please. One can’t go home anymore. And, really, isn’t home just a vortex of emotional needs that one carries wherever one goes?

Of course my literary hometown was London circa 1890, a time, I might point out, when intrusive so-called social mechanisms such as Facebook, Twitter and What’sNext didn’t exist. Neither did iPhones, iPods and Google.

In my day we had to construct our alternate identities the old fashioned way. We wore masks of civility in public, while in private we were—how can I explain this in millennial terms? Private. Think off the grid but with better hygiene.

And there’s the sting in the serpent’s tail. Privacy has become an endangered state. People with secrets are presumed guilty. Why else wouldn’t they publish every detail of their lives on public forums? The modern notion seems to be that only transparency can be trusted. We demand that the Emporor’s new clothes be see-through.

Naturally, being the sensitive aesthete that I am, I find all of this a bit distasteful. It’s not that I care about propriety. Heaven and hell forbid. But really, the essence of art is selectivity. There’s a reason cherubic angels are always pictured as babies. Naked babies delight the eye. Naked 60-year-olds, not so much.

Of course, there may be those who disagree. And everyone is entitled to their own tastes. But must we share every sensation, every thought, every opinion? The modern vogue for chasing the new is not new. We had the new in the 1890s. Penicillin would have been more helpful.

I suppose by criticizing the current fashion I’m showing my age. Well, I’ve got nothing to hide. You can see by my photo that I haven’t changed a bit. Still a barefoot goy with cheek of tan. Would I lie to you?

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