What to do about Keith Gessen? I have, aside from a few satirical posts referencing ancillary parties, remained silent about the man. There were a few desperate propositions from others to interview him for The Bat Segundo Show: one from an n+1 intern and one from a publicist. Lots of flattery directed my way. But I politely declined. I felt that interviewing Gessen, who seems to prize himself above all else, would position me within that undistinguished maw of gossip, and I have tried to avoid these atavistic incisors whenever possible.
This afternoon, I stumbled onto a post at Young Manhattanite and left a comment, suggesting that Keith Gessen, however loathsome his actions, was not a guy to get in a tizzy over. That he was someone who would eventually go away. Then I left the apartment, walked around, and got lost for several hours in a very interesting book about fish. All this was before I was aware of this Gawker post or Keith Gessen’s troubling Tumblr blog, which I first thought was satirical, but now realize is a staggering cry for help. And I now know that my instincts were sound all along.
Keith Gessen is a very troubled man going through a very public breakup. But he’s also a man who desperately wants to matter. And in wanting to matter, he now occupies a Donnean islet, obsessing over what others write about him on the Internet, reproducing the emails, basking in them like a masochist. Whatever your feelings about Gessen, this is a sad and terrible and unhealthy impulse. And I want to urge Gessen to leave his apartment, walk around, and get lost for several hours in a very interesting book about fish. Or at the very least not give a shit. I can’t imagine what Paul Slovak’s thinking right now. That is, if Slovak’s thinking about one of his authors past the six-week publicity window.
I’m Gessen’s age. And there was a time in my mid-twenties when I felt similar to the way Gessen now feels. Many young men go through this. It’s not unusual.
But there comes a time in a man’s life, roughly around the age of thirty, in which he must make an important decision about how he accepts himself, remaining as humble as possible so that he can embrace others and enjoy the wonders and follies of life. If he does not, his next few years will be very difficult for him.
I suspect Gessen has not had that moment. And it is for this reason that I urge all parties to not comment upon or regard the man. This is something that Keith Gessen has to do on his own. Blogging won’t help you and it won’t help him.