Behind the scenes of Hal’s book tour

Posted by Sally
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The ups and downs of the book tour circuit, peep style!

I recently tagged along with Hal on his US book tour and took our little handycam along for the ride. I was doing double duty, scouting possible film locations and meeting up with potential interviewees at the same time. Along the way I was able to get to a few of Hal’s events and follow the action.

 

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Lisa Sargese

That whole exchange at 3:20 is golden!! When Hal says he doesn’t want to talk about the no-show book signing. Then he laughs a little realizing how absurd it is to be involved in all this yet still wanting to withhold his emotions. So he talks about it but he says “you feel like a failure” rather than “I”. Good stuff. It will be interesting to see Hal possibly, hopefully develop an appreciation of communicating emotions more openly…and publicly…in the first person!

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AFlows

Okay, so I just watched this youtube video about his book tour, and took notes. (This is peepviewer in chat.)

Hal says that after Chicago he felt like a failure, like nobody cares about his work. But I would imagine that books are hard to sell. I mean there are many books in the world, and people only have so much time to read, and only so much money to spend on books. And we did have a financial crisis this year.

I personally, have not bought a book in 4 years, until I finished reading the books I already have at home. However, I am still pondering buying Hal’s book to read. But such a decision is a big decision for me, because he is competing against other books that I am also thinking of buying. But then again, I’m thinking of still maintaining my morotorium (sp?) against not buying books at all, and getting back to reading the ones I have.

I think his book is an interesting sociological critique or comment. I’ve read all the free excerpts of his book, and I read the article that he posted on July 24/09 on salon.com written about him. I’m getting the gist of what he said in his book anyway.

I can’t speak for others, but when I peep, I do it to get companionship, and to learn about other people. I don’t think I really do it for entertainment. Or another way to put it, is that peeping is no more entertaining for me than visiting people in person, face to face.

I mean, if we go to a dinner party to socialize, isn’t that a form of entertainment, as well as a social connection? I mean, if it’s boring (not entertaining) we probably won’t go to that person’s house again. Hence why some people refer to giving dinner parties as entertaining their friends.

So when he said during this video that we flip through other people’s lives for entertainment, much like we would a sitcom, I’m thinking… speak for yourself Hal.

All writing is subjective. I learned that in psychology. Whether your an academic writing in a professional journal, or a journalist, or whatever form of writing, it is subjective. So Hal in a way is giving us his perceptions of peep, along with whatever reasearch he put into the book (I haven’t seen the actual book or it’s bibliography). In a way, the book is a type of autobiography, but I say that loosely speaking.

It’s like his wife decided they should have a child, according to the video. (Very interesting wording… “his wife decided.” Infers that Hal wasn’t really interested in having a baby.)

Hal said in the video that he found having a child “traumatic”. And he actually admitted this to the world. I sound more judgemental here than I actually feel. I personally, was never interested in having children, and I never had one. But if I had had one, I doubt I would have ever admitted to the world that it was traumatic. So good for him in a way! I’m all for honesty, yet, I notice I’m not too good at admitting things that people might judge me for.

Putting all that aside, clearly something happened to Hal during the birth of his child that drew his attention to peep, and/or the world around him. Am I to assume that before the birth of his child, he paid even less attention to other people, then he does to his chatters on the peepcast now? That is what is implied here.

Perhaps the secret to Hal’s mindset comes in his closing statements in his video. He says something to the effect that we’re frantic of filling the void, which sucks in everything and is never satisfied. Peep is bad when it’s used to fill the void, but it’s good when it feeds our capacity to care without needing to know why. That is NOT a direct quote, but my summary.

Perhaps Hal’s void scares him, thus why he has avoided peep and it’s ramifications before he had a child. Then maybe when he had a child the world and peep and the relationships therein caused him to re-examine the way he relates to people. I’m sure that becoming a father puts one’s life into different perspectives.

I mean, Hal writing this book, it has as much to do with Hal as the part where he critiques society.

As for his work, I think he has made a worthwhile social comment. I do wonder though, as part of his research for his book, did he research books or articles on how TV changed the world with it’s advent? I know that he mentioned somewhere that TV changed the world, did he do any research on how, and does it mention the research in his book?

And is it a bad thing to have something like TV or peep change the world?

I mean, this shift to reality TV. What I’ve observed is that TV in the 1950s started out portraying ideal situations in life, like “Father’s Knows Best” or the “Andy Griffith Show”. I mean if that’s what were you raised on, you might actually grow up thinking life is good or something.

Then TV progresses, and each decade or half decade sees a change in the ways in which the writers of the shows viewed life. MASH came along and “All in the Family” came along, and those shows reflected different views of life that the writers had.

But it’s like the TV producers and the audiences got tired of looking at those viewpoints via the shows, and so eventually we landed at reality TV, which shows that people are saying “enough with the manufactured TV shows, what are ordinary real people doing?”

It is entertainment, but it’s educational too. And even “All in the Family” and other such shows, had their educational value too. If nothing else they showed us the values and perspectives of the writers of the shows. And those are worth something.

What about book authors who write a book based on real events. Whether they wrote about the real events or a changed version of those events, aren’t their stories reflecting the values and perspectives of themselves as they experience life? How would we learn anything about ourselves without such stories?

It’s almost as though Hal is asking about the value of peeping and/or interacting with others. But I feel it is more than entertainment, it is educational too. And with education maybe some of us might learn what might be good activities and challenges to take up in life, based on what others have experienced.

So life changed because of TV and peep culture, so what? I think change means, to a certain degree, that humanity is growing and changing. But only in small baby steps.

I predict that peep culture will hit a climax and then level out. It may be with us for decades to come, but it will end up just being another part of life, another way for one to express one’s self. And another way for one to learn about life, besides other things like watching documentaries, reading books whether they be educational books, or biographical books, etc. Or even reading or watching fictional stories. Including the most basic way we learn, that being through our interactions with the humans closest to us in our lives.

I note that Hal’s education is in philosophy. I only took one course in philosophy in university and I didn’t think much of it. I took several psychology and sociology courses though, and Hal’s work is really a sociological comment on life. The part that is NOT autobiographical that is.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve wondered at times how to make practical use out of things studied in sociology. And Hal came up with one, be a social critic. There is nothing wrong with people being pushed to look at themselves via Hal’s book. I think he’s made interesting use of his education and his thoughts. I don’t think his work is a failure at all. I think people will still look up his book in 20 years and take note of what he said.

 

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