27 July 2015

Thoughts on writing, popularity, advertising…


The art of focused marketing to a target audience is a mystery to me. I wish that I could get some wealthy investor to risk a boatload of money to promote these two exhibits: A & B. My ad campaign could simply repeat to the general public: “This stuff is great! This stuff is great!” And that would do the trick—it always has. Why does it work? I wish I understood.

I suppose that the majority of people allow themselves to be guided by familiarity. If a choice is familiar, they buy it—no questions asked. A smaller section of people will weigh the advice of a trustworthy leader, like a critic or tastemaker. And yet others will prefer to think through their own decisions.

For the record, I value the independence of my own thinking, but I love to contemplate the ideas of critics. I don’t consider the act of following, in and of itself, as something to be avoided—only gullible, uncritical trusting of a shepherd is [adjective].

I’m optimistic enough to believe that the art of writing will survive with the happy few. Although the unpopularity of my own books frustrates me, it doesn’t kill my spirit; because I know that, as long as I save my compositions in a format which does not depend upon electronic technology, the final word about their popularity belongs to the future.

Every present age is, at once, some past age’s future and some future age’s past. It pleases me to remember that future ages have a good track record of honoring the best writers of past ages, while consigning the shallower, popular artists to oblivion. It’s that old idea: the last shall be first. So that’s at least something to hope for.

But I wish that approval weren’t always so very posthumous. I would gratefully accept recognition at present, not to mention vast riches. (I say this on the chance that Destiny Herself is skimming this blog.)

As I wrote at the beginning of time (wake up, dear diary), the art of focused marketing to a target audience is a mystery to me. Now I think that maybe it’s supposed to stay that way, because to market something properly requires precedent—the item that you want to hype needs to have been hyped before, to ease the job of the hypers. Yet (whether or not I succeed) my aim is always unprecedentedness.

Then again, I think that what the advertising industry presumes about its efforts—all of its theories about which ads work and why—is mostly baloney: I truly believe that what causes stuff to be popular—maybe I should say “art” instead of “stuff”—is repetition (which is harnessed by capital), plain and simple. That’s why I joked about popularizing my snake oil by just repeating “It’s the best! It’s the best!” Why would people question something that’s the best?

No matter how many lovely jokers join my cult, I’ll always want a bigger congregation: I’ll never be satisfied. But, if I had to choose between attracting the pyramid’s tip or its base, I’d choose the tip. By definition, the rare geniuses of any given age are few in number. I don’t mind piloting a small church, as long as all of its gods are genuine devils.

Suppose, however, that I want to discern whether I have fulfilled my goal of appealing to the “happy few.” Such a thing will not be easy to measure; perhaps it’s even naturally un-measurable. Whereas, if mere fame is my goal, I could measure my success by checking the number of ‘Likes’ that my cult receives on the Fiendster network, or the number of sales that I can milk out of nightlong cold-calling.

But I’m against chasing after fame. It just runs in circles, anyway. To catch it, all you need to do is stand in place and hold your arm out—fame will eventually slam right into your fist. Once it’s down for the count, you can tie it up like a dinosaur and ride it in your prehistoric rodeo. You’ll make some petty cash, at least. And I’d love to take one of those animatronic models from a Creation Science museum to see if public opinion will mate with it.

And woe unto he who tries to jumpstart a sham. Kickstart, jumpkick. It’s a waste of one’s time. Even worse, it’s a waste of one’s mind. I once heard a teenager say to her mother: “What’s the use?” I love this question, and I’ve asked it of myself, and I will continue to ask it of myself. (Although I’ve never struck upon an answer that rings true, there’s a satisfaction in the very act of questioning.)

Decide on a path: either work for the self, or work for money. As it was taught of old: One cannot serve God and mammon. [Matt 6:24]

But is this good advice? Why did I ever wander around saying that?


Qualo Infinity said...

I think at the end of every 'human cycle', it all gets wiped out...everything, no matter what form it's in...We can't even begin to piece together anything from the last human cycle if we tried, but we can't try, because we've not nothing to go on..(and the cycles before that are even more impossible) ...I think that in some other dimension, we remember bits and pieces from various human cycles, and even if we care anything about any of it any more at all, we still most likely go, yeah, that was pretty weird.. What a woild.. what a woild.. "What's the use?" IS a valid question...Maybe there's a good answer and maybe there's not, but it is a great question. Anyway, from one who now posts on a site that cannot be commented on to one who posts on a site that cannot be acknowledged with 'the like button of acknowledgement and approval', I say to you: Great entry, once again! LIKE...<--- haha I snuck that in there!

Bryan Ray said...

There’s something in your idea (about everything getting wiped out after each human cycle) that I really love; and it also rings true to me, because I notice that even the greatest events from past ages—including my own favorite artworks—end up fading from public concern until they exist (if at all) as nothing more than rare trivia facts. Yet there’s something pleasing about knowing that even the solidest creations have an Etch-A-Sketch quality to them, in that they’re temporary and prone to vanish; because this melts one’s icy fears about experimenting: it allows one to be less concerned about negative judgment. But the same idea also scares me (I can always find a reason to feel fear, ha!!) because it reminds me that my beloved medium of TEXT, in the form of ink-&-paper books, must eventually perish too. However, if futurity’s probable opinion on most of our artistic endeavors shall be “yeah, that was pretty weird,” then I am content: because I love weirdness for its own sake. My great nightmare is a beige world of sameness: my own personal hell would be MERE REPETITION.

Actually, now that I typed that last thought, I realize that a certain version of the same ideas (a changeless world of beige and mere repetition) would also constitute my own personal heaven—how bizarre!

One last thing regarding the above teenager’s quote. I sense that you took it the same way that I did, as an interesting catalyst for wonder. She apparently meant her remark to have a negative impact, but we both instinctively saw the positive side of it—I find this pleasing. In my case, I viewed her idea through the lens of Oscar Wilde (I wish I would have remembered to include this uplifting context in the main entry)—here is the conclusion of his famous Dorian Gray preface, which I see as gently refuting while at once sublimating the question “What’s the use?”:

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.

P.S. thanks for finagling a way to “Like” this unlikable blog post! You inspired me to try to implement a simple, clickable rating system to the end of my diary. So, if you see such an option appear here in the future, just remember that you played a major role in making our world beautifuller.

Qualo Infinity said...

There is a very proficient out-of-body traveller by the name of Robert Monroe who wrote a couple of amazing books a few years back. I believe most everything he says is true based on the fact that I have a experienced quite a few of the same things myself, (albeit a lot fewer in number at the present time, at least that I can remember; I think it's hard to hold on to memories of this type without much experience and practice). One of the zillion cool things he was (is?) able to do out-of-body is travel into the future and into the past. There is one fascinating recounting of a race of humans that existed on this very planet millions of years ago. I seriously doubt that there is one iota of any trace of their existence at this point.. no books, no art, no fossils even...no nothing.. I'm really fascinated by that.. I think the beige world of sameness and repetition only belongs to those who can't see outside of their own personal little 'reality bubble'.. Those who have discovered just a little more begin to realize there is so so much out there that is possible as to make our ordinary lives look so puny and boring, but having said that, I think at some point even sameness and repetition take on a new quality that might even be somewhat exciting and fascinating in themselves.. I'm really just thinking out loud here, but I do think humans just generally 'scratch the surface' when it comes to possibilities..

Qualo Infinity said...

Addendum: After re-reading your above comment, I realized you thought I meant futurity's opinion of our artistic endeavors...Well, yeah, that too, but what I really meant was *everything* in regard to this world we live in.. Everything from living on a planet, existing in a human body, creating art... to breathing, eating, and talking! The whole shebang! It all seems really strange now.. I think outside of this form of existence, this 'reality', it's going to seem even stranger!

Bryan Ray said...

Ah, I get what you’re saying!—it’s beyond intriguing to think that all things are subject to that cyclic erasure. Since I’m obsessed with the fate of my artistic efforts, I narrowed the focus impulsively! …& I’ve heard of Monroe but I know almost nothing about his work. I love the thoughts that are sparked in my mind by what you said about him, and about your own experiences… I’m all for expanding mental horizons and discovering new possibilities, so as to find myself more truly and more strange.

Qualo Infinity said...

I think the thing for both of us to do, is achieve fame and fortune in the astral realm! Ha! I firmly believe you can imagine (or will) briefcases full of cash to materialize ..and they will! The only problem: cash will be worthless there.. But what a joke! To have all the cash that we needed in the physical world, only to get it later in a place where it's completely useless! Now that I think about it, I'm going to stick to materializing bulldozers..

Bryan Ray said...

I love it—you've definitely struck upon the solution—we can use the bulldozers that you've materialized in the physical world to carry our fame and fortune out from the astral world!! Why did we never think of this before!?


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