What had the Digital Writer learned? The new publishing system is a reality and will get better as the years go on. That Muses are Real and need to be obeyed, almost to the point of humiliation.
Pay the bills and teach the children well.
One thing leads to another.
We've learned that preparation is key to the execution of projects. Most writers shy away from too much technology and are suspicious of it. But we're at the same place as 15th Century Europe when the printing press came out. There was great excitement and alarm about the ease of reproducing manuscripts on a massive scale. A popular novel like Don Quixote could be easily pirated and printed in isolated parts of Europe. Propagandists for the church and protestants to the church used the new ease of distribution for their purposes.
We say with confidence: An invention is as good as the people who use it well.
The Digital Writer believes it's the best place for a mind to be. The huge conglomerates of print publishing, TV, radio, and movies are designed for mass markets and shape their talent accordingly. The writer is always that lone shark in the water looking for the blood that will transform him into a saint. There's nothing more stupid to see than talent wandering through the halls of a conglomerate searching for sympathy. One remembers the humiliating moment when he understood that any work he did would always be in the shadow of a 4th rate romance novelist, wined and dined by the powerful publishing company.
Humiliation in youth, is the instructor of middle-age.
The Net is where the freedom loving people go. Maybe they teach their aging, stodgy brethen of the old world a thing or two. Perhaps they will save them in the nick of time. Who knows? We're here and it feels new and will improve. Can the same be said about the conglomerates?
The scale of things has made us merely guinea pigs, forced to give up all beliefs for the right to become a bright variety of tropism. The world passes through us but never settles in us. We have no way of knowing the meaning of what passes through. In that state of emergency, the Digital Writer tries to exercise his full freedom as a human being.
The computer and Net work for writers when it generates great adrenaline; when the writer sexes on the possibility of taking full control over his or her work and career. At that point, even the most dreaming mind will learn a bit of business to free itself.
"Resources," the old man said, "are water. Water can kill as well as save you at the last moment."
The key is in shaping the resources skillfully to meet any number of demands. Writers are trained to do this, editors are trained to do it, among others. You can only "democratize" information when you give the individual person a full set of characteristics that allow him to absorb information and use it wisely for his own self-interest. That's needed at the front end. The last thing that a culture needs is ignorant people drowning in oceans of information that turns them into paranoid types. The attempt to equalize the aquisition of information and knowledge is not the right way to go. Prepare each person to aquire the information and knowledge that helps them at any particular time in their development. Try that and see what happens.
The Net has forced us to reflect on our greatest reading experiences. This was brought home to the Digital Writer lately, after he watched a performance of Waiting for Godot on TV. He had read the play and read some critical pieces about it but nothing compares to its performance. When it is no longer performed, it will die as an artistic object no matter how many copies of the book float around.
But a novel like Brothers Karamozov or Gravity's Rainbow can live no other place but in the pages of the book. Shakespeare, however, can be read, listened to, or performed with equal delight.
I would hate to see the Net gut out the splendid types of war histories that go into very detailed, astute analysis of a famous battle.
Proust is still a good read but could never translate into these other mediums. If the Digital Writer wanted to produce something like Proust, on that scale, he would choose the book form. But he would use the Net to put up the first draft.
The greatest asset to the Net is that it reverses the process of being dumbed-down by the marketplace. The marketplace is controlled by the 14-30 year old set who have little experience and/or knowledge. They may have very good qualities but they have nothing to say to the world yet. Everything is dumbed down to their level, including books and magazines. As a result of this, the ambitions of a writer are thwarted and driven into the worst places imaginable. Talent is lopped off. The "free" person is reduced to an idiot; to a clown, a kind of happy monkey who appears on talk shows.
The writer always feel wounded when he has less an audience than he thinks he is capable of having. That is a chief problem with self-publishing. There is no guarantee you will find the critical mass of readers you need to be successful.
The Digital Writer was the first to admit that he loved print. That print had saved him from the evils of the electronic world that had, already, sacrificed several generations. He was eternally grateful to print and put it in that rarified space called, sacred space. In fact, one could say the Digital Writer was trying to save the best of print from a market that didn't want it anymore. A market trained, from youth, to believe in the multi-colored images dancing up from Plato's cave in an effort to rob them as they entertained them.
Or was it print? It was the language freed when the writer had confidence. It was the words shaped into thought-forms. It was the enactment of vast, colliding forces experienced by the reading mind.
And so, once again, he asked himself: "Did the print publishing system free me? Did it bring me closer to my true words? Did it allow for the flow of energy like a great magnet pointed at my soul? And if it didn't, why did the digital world do that?
The Digital Writer always loved happy mysteries!
He had been told this: "Yes, so you publish your own material on your website, so what? How can I trust you with anything credible?" Fair enough. The Digital Writer could only say he took responsibility for the work he produced. "When I looked at the print publishing establishment in the mid-70's I saw nothing that appealed to me. And my loyalty, even then, was with a few writers whose work I truly learned from; William Carlos Williams, for instance, or Charles Olson or, even, Faulkner and Kafka. I had no loyalty to the publishing establishment." Now it's true that the Net has not built up a credible record for publishing but it will. He knew that the wind-swept, bleak colony on the rocky coast becomes a great superpower in time. Most innovations follow this national myth. He didn't know why when younger and resented some of the sacrifices he put himself through. But now he understood. Now he knew.
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