24 August 2015

A few thoughts on writing, publishing, reading…

Dear diary,

In the realm of writing, since my bias is for obscurity, I often worry that I’m too severely neglecting clarity; but let me give a pep talk to my fancy: perhaps those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will love a good book whether its text is masterfully controlled OR merrily puzzling—maybe all that matters is that an author’s writing amuses the author herself; for, if it pleases the source, then it will please the mirror-selves of the happy few.

Considering the notion of taking risks, my higher aspect reminds its trembling flesh: Life is problematic no matter what, therefore fill the interval before the inevitable end with acts of audacity: store up treasures where moths and rust cannot corrupt them: go in for your chances and spend for vast returns.

On self-publishing versus whatever is the more normal, established, respectable way of prostituting one’s mind, here is my hope: In the future, instead of sending a manuscript to a publisher’s reader, authors will simply self-publish with on-demand printers like I did; then publishers will tell their employees to go scan the cyber-scape for self-published volumes that deserve to be given a better release (improved interior, professional cover art, proper marketing, and the widest distribution). This way, any human who self-publishes her life’s work will feel like Cinderella waiting for her soulmate to return her slipper, as opposed to being frowned upon like a soul who got caught baptizing itself in fake blood. And the slipper should be filled with absinthe, because it is glass.

Microblogging sites like T---ter and F---book are technically a type of publishing; so, since anyone can publish anything nowadays, the Big Names in the print industry should realize that their strength lies not in simply disseminating their authors’ words, but in becoming known as preeminent tastemakers and trustworthy critics, on account of their choices being shrewdly daring yet judicious. These companies have always been partway there, but today is the day that they should more tightly embrace this emphasis.

For we all have too much information, too many words coming at us; we don’t need more published stuff: what we desperately need is someone—a human intellect, preferably wise—to sort the stuff, so as to save us time.

Programmable devices like computers are as bad at making aesthetic decisions as they are at acting in a genuinely random fashion; so my above idea must needs be implemented by individual humans. Erroneousness is an achievement—we should bask in our element.

From what I understand, spoken language existed for a long time before a competent system of writing was invented to capture it; so it makes sense that our faculty of hearing might be, in certain ways, keener than our faculty of reading. Now let me address the wild new craze that is sweeping the nation—authorial readings (by this phrase, I mean a recording of a text as read by its very own author):

The only reservation that I have about authorial readings is that they’re authorial readings—I mean, one of my favorite aspects of poetry (by which I mean all imaginative writing) is that the reader becomes a new identity when reciting a poem; like I told you before, dear diary: while one reads Walt Whitman, one is Walt Whitman, filtered thru oneself. I love to hear the different versions of a poet which manifest when the same poem is filtered thru various readers; whereas, when the author herself reads her own work, it tends to have an “official” quality, like: CASE CLOSED, this is the definitive reading. I prefer all cases to remain opened, so that their contents can glow. (And all cases should be filled with resplendent contents, as in the “glass slipper” example above.)

If I were to record my own voice reading my own words, I wouldn’t want my audio versions to be seen as definitive—I want readers of the future to say: hey I like my friend X’s reading better than the stupid author’s. Or it doesn’t have to be a question of better or worse—it’s just interesting to hear more people join in and give their take. Our age is too concerned with accuracy—mathematic, scientific, etc.—and there’s this idea that the author’s intention trumps all other readers’ interpretations: I don’t much like that idea; I prefer Marcel Duchamp’s: “The viewer completes the work.” And also Whitman’s, from ‘Song of Myself’ §17:

These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing…

P.S.

I’ve noticed that there are brand new, handmade flyers taped to almost every single lamppost in my neighborhood. These paper flyers say: LOST DOG!!! and they have a picture of a cute little black puppy; her head is titled to one side, and she’s standing on some gray floor tiles in a kitchen. And below the image is written: REWARD $100. But I notice that this number keeps changing as the days pass: it increased to $200; then $300, and now the amount is up to $500.

This notice made me sad, so I started thinking about the Bible. In the third chapter of Genesis, Yahweh evicts humanity from paradise. Thousands of years later, the Apostle Paul tried to get us to believe that Yahweh was going around the world putting up flyers that say LOST PETS!!! with a picture of us and a reward of eternal life. But, if Paul had read the story in his Bible, he would have seen that it says Yahweh kicked us out of the garden precisely to deny us eternal life.

The last thing that Yahweh’s going to do is tape flyers to lampposts begging for humankind to return—in fact, he positioned armed angel thugs before his entryway, to prevent exactly that from happening (3:24). Yahweh did not lose his maltreated pets; he knows full well where his humans are: they are not in paradise—and that’s where he intends to keep them, as he himself says: “lest they put forth their hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…”

As usual, my point is that St. Paul is full of baloney. Great tasting, high quality baloney.

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