Here Comes Nobody
It’s fall, hoorah, and I’m back, at least to blogging. No immediate plans to do anything with the book, but it’s time to write something again. Just writing this I can feel how rusty I’ve gotten at writing anything more complex than an office email, and regardless of whether I can monetize anything I’m doing, that’s no bueno (though of course monetizing is the long term goal).
We’re having nice cool weather here, which stimulates the kind of brain (mine) that hibernates through the 90+ degree heat of summer, and I’ve got another trip to NYC coming up. Amazing how much I need these trips to feel like it’s worth writing again – how much stimulation I get from reading TONY or the Sunday Times and thinking, I’ve got my ticket to that play, and that one too, I’ve got that Mark Twain exhibit on my schedule, I’m going to see the last “Dragon Tattoo” movie the day it opens in the US instead of whenever it gets to Reno.
I’ve been thinking about an article celebrating the culture consumer – the educated, sophisticated, non-producer on whose shoulders rests the financial burden of keeping the “creative economy” alive. I suppose you could call it the anti-Shirkey manifesto – a revolt against the idea that everybody has to be a Maker or Creator, that somehow being a generator of LOLCats is better than being a close reader (and purchaser) of literature, a keen playgoer, a concert ticket buyer. I’m also thinking about what Jaron Lanier wrote (in the book I never got around to reading after I abandoned the novel, but whose extract in Harpers I loved) about how the new creators are expected to create for free so that others can monetize their creations – how even in “free culture” the only thing that will never be free, the only thing no one dare remix, are the Sacred Texts of the Advertisements that accompany almost all Internet content. I’ve written before of my skepticism of the cyberagrarian utopians, in whose visions of the future everything is free and somehow abundance and prosperity flow from the very lack of remuneration for the work of the mind.
Someone has to pay for shit – nothing appalls me more than the Tea Party, with their back-to-the-Stone-Age mentality, in which dirt roads and outhouses and “chickens for checkups” are preferable to payin’ dem taxes for Soceelist t’ings like autobahns or clean water or guaranteed health care (all the while proudly clucking their cornpone slogans like “ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” at the same time they demand “Gummymint out o’ my Meddycare!” – heedless of the fact that young taxpayers are now subsidizing their health care far and above the amounts the recipients ever paid into it). In their own way, those demanding Free Culture are just as absurd – like Tea Partiers, they want the benefit of rich production as long as “someone else” pays the bill. (I can’t help think of the Simpsons episode where Homer runs for, and wins, the job of sanitation commissioner on the slogan “Can’t Someone Else Do It?”)
Also on the menu in the shorter term, another installment or two on the Disorderly March. Frank Rich did a fantastic job (as always) in a NYRB article on Obama and elitism, and there’s a good article in yesterday’s NYTimes about Steve Jobs’ disorderly march back to the helm of Apple. My goal is to get to both of these this week.
Oh, yeah – my experiment posting the chapters of the other book didn’t fare so well. I got a couple responses and a healthy number of site hits off the Reddit posting – some people said the start was too slow, too much talking, a couple encouraged me, but the stats basically told the story – a lot of people read (or at least clicked on) chapter 1, but not 2 or 3. Honestly, my hopes are so irrational right now, my distance from all the stuff that’s necessary for success (social networking, aggressive submission of proposals and articles, absolute confidence in my own creations that would enable me to write without a contract) is such that all I really wanted was to be discovered like Lana Turner at the Schwab’s counter (which didn’t even happen) and be Raised to the Purple by someone who’d want to sign me to a contract immediately. My agent really did love it at the time, but looking back with more clarity after this recent event, I realize that the publishing houses who took a look at it probably only did so as a professional courtesy to her. Oh well, it was worth a shot.