Am I a Failure?

Theresa Duncan, R.I.P., and boyfriend, video artist Jeremy Blake (Ditto)

Theresa Duncan, R.I.P., and boyfriend, video artist Jeremy Blake (Ditto)

Okay, so I’ve only recently begun diving into this information ocean known as the Internet, and I came across something on FailBlog the other day that kind of upset me. A girl had submitted a question to YahooAnswers.

Q: If you die, what happens to your MySpace?

and the obnoxiously sarcastic A: It deletes itself. You see, when you die a little microchip goes off in your brain and instantly deletes any accounts you may have. They are inserted a few months after birth.  Everyone has one.

Am I a moron? Because seriously, I want to know the answer to this question…maybe not specifically for MySpace or Facebook, but for blogs. Does your blog stay out there forever, wafting over into the Elysian Fields of the Internet, existing in a sleepy stasis?  And if not, whose job is it to shut down the blogs of the deceased?

“An e-undertaker?” a friend suggests.

This reminds me of an interesting story from a few years ago, one which most young, pretty New Yorkers of that/this time will remember. In 2007, a video game auteur and pioneer of blogging, a pretty, young-ish New Yorker named Theresa Dunca,n overdosed in her apartment in the rectory of the infamously bohemian Saint Mark’s Church on 10th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village. About a week later, her boyfriend of over a decade, video artist Jeremy Blake, wandered into the ocean off Rockaway Beach. In the light of the following day, the police found his clothes, a passport, and a note beneath the boardwalk. People latched on to the story almost immediately, intrigued by the endless mystery of a beautiful, talented couple, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, surely. Various publications started to come out with stories about them, details of their lives, theories on their deaths. A reporter for an LA newspaper said Duncan’s death had “not yet been ruled a suicide” and therefore could have been a murder, an explanation which I promptly dismissed because of she left a note (detail from another paper) and because I couldn’t imagine Duncan doing anything without complete awareness (ah, the idolatry of the artistically ambitious and naive). Another source claimed the couple had descended into a strange codependent paranoia involving Scientologists and one of their leading men, the singer-songwriter Beck. This was easier to swallow, oddly enough. For an impossible and morbid romantic, there is poetry even in descending into mutual madness. A friend of Duncan’s posted on the Chelsea Hotel Blog that Duncan had recently been accused of plagiarizing one sentence in an article she wrote about perfume. She didn’t profess Duncan’s innocence, but said she assumed it happened because “people think of eerily similar things, and even phrasing of those ideas, all the time. In fact, I believe this sort of concurrence is increasing. It is also possible Theresa just forgot the sentence came from somewhere else, as she — and all of us — are assaulted by a blizzard of information daily. I’ve seen my own published words show up elsewhere many times, but said nothing, suspecting I might be guilty, too.”
Prior to her death, I had heard of Duncan only once before. She was a regular at one of my favorite haunts, the Hotel Chelsea, and a writer who resides there interviewed her and posted it on the internet. I looked at her blog briefly, but shied away, perhaps because I was intimidated knowing someone that cool was alive. Somehow when I learned that she was dead, I felt less jarred by her smart glamor and windswept blond hair, and so I endeavored to skim her blog in its entirety. The picture below I filched from her (I had actually cut it out from a magazine myself before I noticed it on there, which sent me into a tailspin of self evaluation), as well as numerous recommendations for intellectually pretentious reading and one of my now-favorite excuses to insult people wayyyyy after an offense, “l’espirit d’escalier.”

My point: if you click on the picture above, of Theresa and Jeremy, you’ll be redirected to her blog, where you can still read about her made-up Lunar Appreciation Society and examine her last post for inklings of massive depression, nuggets of premeditation. You can buy a t-shirt or a tote bag (where does the money go?)  Or you can just wait the big screen version of the story, script penned by Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Gus Van Sant (allegedly).

2 Responses to “Am I a Failure?”

  1. Dream Says:

    Blogs exist as long as someone is willing to pay for the server–Journalspace had a crash earlier this year, and many blog archives were lost. Duncan’s blog is maintained by her family (the totes can’t be ordered anymore.)

    And she plagiarized lots more than 1 sentence, and most of her blog was copied as well.

  2. itinerantdaughter Says:

    I know there’s got to be a “logical” explanation for things, but for some reason the whole concept blows my mind! And that doesn’t entirely surprise me about the plagiarism –– when I first “saw” Theresa, I was so fascinated. Suicide plus pretty face plus intelligence? Swoon…but after digging deeper, I found (not surprisingly) that the whole thing was much more complicated than that…

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