Who is Salam Pax?

In his most recent entry, “Salam Pax” writes about the experience of being/becoming a celebrity: conducting interviews, seeing his book promoted on the web, reading articles….The result is that the blog’s author now feels a sense of disconnection from “Salam Pax:”

Salam Pax has developed a life of his own, he is not me anymore. and I miss baghdad like hell.

This sense of unreality is obviously much more powerful than the disconnection associated with blogging under a pseudonym, but it does point to the liveliness of these fictional selves, the potential for them to outgrow their RL counterparts, or perhaps it’s a way of distancing from the overwhelming aspects of RL. Not sure I have anything that profound here; I’m mostly just trying to store this bit of information in my “external memory,” if or when it fits into the paper I’m writing.

4 Comments »

  1. Francois Lachance Said,

    September 15, 2003 @ 10:14 am

    How much does Real Life versus Online Life have to do with the cultivation of Personna and the reaction to the Personna in a world of commercialized interests? After all, if there were not a book contract and the accompaning publicity (and handling of the author by publicists), the experiential sense of blogging would not likely shift radically. The talk show circuit and radio interviews take their toll — no being able to strick that sentence with a deft dance of fingers on keyboard.

    Contrast Salam Pax with William Gibson who recently pulled the plug on his blog in order to get back to writing.

    I heard Salam Pax being interviewed on CBC’s As It Happens. I suspect the trained architect is biding his time and, when the reconstruction of Iraq begins in earnest which Salam Pax patiently targets in about five years, he will career shift.

  2. chuck Said,

    September 15, 2003 @ 12:06 pm

    I think you’re right, Francois. That disconnection is probably pretty minimal in terms of his RL experience versus his OL persona. The disconnect comes when he becomes a celebrity and the distance between RL and performed persona becomes magnified, resulting not just in a nostalgia for home, but a nostalgia for a certain type of life (daily life in Baghdad, including blogging itself) that is currently unavailable to him.

    I’d imagine that SP’s celebrity is short-lived and that he will have a hand in rebuilding Iraq. I think teh reason I found this entry so powerful is that it encapsulated what I had felt for a long time: how much SP loves Iraq, and Baghdad in particular and how devastating it must be to see sections of it utterly destroyed. In retrospect, it makes me feel a little myopic when I lament the smallest changes in Atlanta.

  3. Francois Lachance Said,

    September 15, 2003 @ 4:59 pm

    But it is through such “myopia” (or rather an appreciation of the local) that the ability to empathize passes. Salam Pax’s patience and his appreciation for complexity also helps one develop empathy.

  4. chuck Said,

    September 16, 2003 @ 11:01 am

    Good point. I like how Salam is able to convey his “everydayness” to such a wide audience–and he certainly has made clear throughout the last few months that nothing is simple.

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