I am thrilled by Stephen Fry, across a whole spectrum of attributes — merely the latest of these being his blog (creatively subtitled “blessays, blogs, and blisquisitions”), which, while being wonderfully witty and spontaneously stylish (not to mention almost completely free of low-brow alliterations), is also — praise the lord — overlong and extremely tardy. In over five weeks of blogging, he has produced a grand total of three posts, the second of which, on the topic of fame, runs to precisely 8,938 words — to make the image just a little more tangible, when you copy and paste the post into Word it fills up fifteen and a half pages. This is a length that even the New Yorker magazine under William Shawn would think twice about publishing, and that’s under the favourable assumption that the piece happened to be about something truly compelling like the grain farmers of north-central Iran.
For these two things alone — I simply cannot call them faults — he should be elevated into the pantheon of literary gods. It’s far too easy to be perfect, after all. You know the type: the good-looking mid-thirtysomething writer, published regularly and at length in the Atlantic Monthly, a new book coming out with Alfred A. Knopf (his fourth), interviewed by NPR, two screenplays in development, and an upcoming appearance on The Daily Show. Apart from the good-looking, mid-thirtysomething bit, all this takes is effort. Sweat. And sweat is something everyone can produce, even pigs. Yet for all that, we look on the writer’s works and despair.
By contrast, Fry has taken the harder, nobler road. He has deliberately chosen, quite simply, not to make the rest of us feel like crap. My god, think of the altruism: a man stays up night after night, penning a post that stretches on seemingly to infinity, all in order to produce something that is so unwieldy — myself, I just stare at his posts, awestruck; no point trying to read the damn things — that the efforts of average bloggers (and I count myself in that august company) must inevitably stand out as models of concision and elegance. For us, his work marks the ne plus ultra of posting, the logical extreme, the 9th plane of a Hell none of us wants to visit. How he keeps himself motivated; how he can continue pushing on to the end when there is no end in sight — these things are mysteries. But this much I do know: that Stephen Fry’s self-denying blog embodies the real meaning of heroism and of sacrifice, veterans of Omaha Beach be damned.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Fry. Merry Christmas indeed.