I had no ideas as to what to write today. So I started by writing about writing. It's stu's fault
, see below. Then I moved onto researching Brinkley's involvement with smoking
- found a good book on how our overwhelming ad culture can wipe out another
in less than 10 years by Jean Kilborne
- then I discovered Larry Lessig
had read and linked to Evan Hunt
's piece on ad pollution
- thus achieving more inbound blog links in a single day than I have in a year - and now it's four hours later. I've overwatered the garden.
When I started blogging I resolved to put out two pieces per month, and struggled to do that - english came hard to me back in January. I knew I had to keep at it. It was theraputic.
Every real author says you've gotta do "1000 words a day" - but it was never clear to me on what - I felt like I had to tackle the big subjects head on - stuff I care about, like copyright law, the state of computation, the state of the world, space, the meme war, Linux, gui design, and consumer electronics. I ended up writing, sideways, about what was really on my mind.
Most helpful to me were the 6 audio cassettes of Steven King's book, On Writing - A memoir of the craft
. He was brilliant, concise, & inspirational. I would play a side, write for a week, then play another side. I accumulated major library fines... Two ringing phrases remain in my mind:
"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - I play homage to that phrase in the ADverb Apocalypse
"Write the Truth".
Write the Truth
. That was his first, and most important lesson to me. I groped and groped towards Truth with a capital T. Writing became easier.
Gradually I ramped up - 2-3-4 pieces a week, sometimes two in one day, it got easier to just type and write - aha! I realized that you just had to write whatever came to mind and gradually, gradually, you will be able to tackle those big subjects, just as sideways as you tackled the little ones, the trivial ones. In the last couple weeks I've blogged nearly every day - some good stuff - most trivial - but I think I'm cracking 1000 words a day now - almost by accident - and it feels like a dam bursting.
To write - oh - to write - it's better than cocaine. You lay out a fine line, you do it, you look away and have the world sparkle a little, and you look back... and it's still there! You lay out another... and another... and another... and another... and suddenly it's 3AM and your head hits the keyboard. You hit save. You get ready for bed. Then you have to just admire your work for a while. You notice problems, and fix them, and then it's 4AM.
With writing - you don't screw up your nose - but you do end up just as broke.
Today, maybe I'll catch up on some choice emails, and continue to work on my own thought processes - I've been experimenting with first/second/third person writing, talking to myself, trying to see if I spoke better with your voice, or with theirs.
...in a can without a brand
From stu - who tried blogging once and went back to writing weird emails, playing jazz bass, and making late night phone calls -
anonymous tin can
poor little can, lost in a world without a maker
it feels a faker
cause it don't know who it's cor-por-ate daddy is
i'll tell him this: "you need a job like mine where you can just administer some Linux systems and various database flavors,
write no code
and let the words flow..."
this is your thang, my friend, write about it. write about not being able to write about it. write about not being able to write about writing about it.
In some university somewhere maybe but... are there any jobs left? Truly it feels like living in thoroughly decadent corrupt and dying world. jazz gigless out of seattle. pedal-to-the-metal capitalism. It scares me my sweet friend because you somehow skipped the dubious development stage which allows a poyson like me to take a lickin' yet keep on tickin'. you are a younger soul maybe.
The sand is drippin from the post-modern hourglass, onto our brows, in a form of water torture saudi-arabia-style; the petrol-based system is doomed. who will tell the people? which people want to know?
ironic: you helped save the industrial system from Y2K meltdown and what thanks you get? i was right about meltdown, but my timing was a bit off. It will be oil depletion which will sink the endless-growth ship and offer a chance for evolution in other directions.
None of this would have surprised Sitting Bull; i can hear him sitting there and laughing his red head off
Stu sends me this mystic trippy stuff after we talk nearly every time. We used to tape our conversations because once we got on that same ethereal plane - we was out there, man - we was out there - and you know when you are achieving perfection when the you you are ain't there, you know? I remember one tape we made of a drive to Frys - we talked about asteroid colonization - that out there, "there was Real Estate, on the hoof" that anyone
could live on! I spoke so convincingly that there was a deep pause in the conversation and Stu said, longingly:
"Can I go?"
I told him: "Sure".
Same tone of longing, and dead seriously, Stu said:
"Can my dog come, too?"
"Sure. We can use her to thoroughly test the air recirculation system..." - Luna, now sadly deceased, was a smelly dog, but stu, Luna, and his van were inseperable...
I forget what else we talked about - oh yea, we talked about stupid laws, and just as I finished ranting about it - we had maybe 5 minutes to get to frys - I got stuck, needing to make a left at a red light with absolutely no oncoming traffic. The next sound on the tape: "Vrooooooom".
Stu writes on:
It certainly borders on miraculous that i have survived, being the wide-eyed self-anointed harbinger of end time that i am, for well nigh over half a century. i think god loves me. even though i blow my nose on bath towels in fine dining establishments (as a matter of principle and convenience) and blow farts during church service.
and she has also gifted me a fine life companion. truly one of nature's nobler creations.
i work in a basement amongst sheltering sub-tropical plants going brown from too much of the wrong kind of lite. Metaphor is everywhere! We turn off the harrowing fluorescents and live under incandescent brandless lamp fixtures. i have taken refuge in this monastery-disguised-as-a-library basement after the meltdown of the last high-tech i-told-u-so economic bubble of the last stage of industrialism. in the context of a quite broken feedback loop where the best and most evolved individuals are marginalized away from levers of influence and the death-worshipping christo-facists rule the roost. So I hover here waiting for the worst, ensconsed within an institution which provides mind power for laser based weapons of death. we have been psychologically and spiritually strip-mined.
i cry inside for the young who walk around this place preparing for future which will not ever come. They are preparing for a meal most not suspecting that the pantry has been raided and the silverware stashed long ago.
We are at the point where we have survived because in some fundamental way our ancestors did not fuck up. Or at least sizeable procreating minority had not. Emerging from unified consciousness and timeless tropical wanderings on to the horrors of historical time to produce us, who could very well be the last-of-breed. It is at this point a contest between thanatos and our survival urges, we will see if the game turns out to be even sporting.
Rejoice brothers and cisterns, Here’s a man who can save the day!
I'm rather reluctant to drink from that cup - but the cosmic rap - I always dig, brother. We had another exchange of emails, I talked about my henry milleresc-ape fantasy... and he gave me his:
i had not realized u had retreated from "reality": what a dread concept. when i need to use the phrase i call it "consensus reality" in order to relativize it. me, i have a great survival instinct implanted by, perhaps, my roots in wandering jew-ism.
all that appears solid appears so only cause our senses are too gross to perceive the big S P A C E S therein. Thus the great need for the imaginitive leap in the Wordworthain sense. Not so much in the escapist Disney sense altho i dug Mickey in his earlier manifestations. He and Stravinsky clearly had a great affinity.
Walt was a raging Orange-county anti-commie republican who had this immense need to manifest squeeky animal allies.
These days there are precious few beings whose words or sighs i cannot anticipate afore they emerge into manifestation; i take delight in your meanderings cause they are REAL, spontaneous, and a big kick in the pants.
it seems i need interaction with real person to write, who will be the Moe to my Curly? the Huntley to my Brinkley?
i follow your blogz with great savor, so do me a favor and keep at it. if you build it i shall come. - stu
Brinkley died recently. I'm not going to write a eulogy for him, I don't know his work. I've only watched television news twice in the last 15 years. I had heard that in the early days of his news show, it was sponsored by Philip Morris, and there were all sorts of "interesting" requests from them... let me go research that - hmm, nothing on google so far... history started in 1993 it seems.... let's try google groups - here's a good rant about cigarettes - no Brinkley, but. I've been bitching about the lack of crossover between USENET and blogs recently, so: here's a good USENET rant on cigarettes
. USENET was/is GREAT - more people should try conversing over it...
And here's a great one cohesively summarizing everything about the smoking industry you didn't ever want to know.
I've been writing this past hour with a cig in my mouth, trying NOT to go outside and smoke it. Aha - from George Will
In 1949 John Cameron Swayze's ``Camel News Caravan,'' for which young Brinkley, who had joined NBC in 1943, was a reporter, was carried for 15 minutes five nights a week. NBC's network consisted of four stations, in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. The sponsor required Swayze, who always wore a carnation in his lapel, to have a lit cigarette constantly in view. Not until 1963 did Cronkite's ``CBS Evening News'' become the first 30-minute newscast.
I've heard more than that. I heard - this is hearsay, ok? - that the various smoking companies kept news programs from ever showing a non-smoking sign, and also didn't allow pipes and other kinds of tobacco to be seen. I look at pictures of NASA in the 60s and I see a lot of pipes being smoked, not many cigs. Fast forward to today - I felt like a real anachronism with my tobacco pipe. I would walk down the streets of santa cruz figuring I'd be arrested for possibly smoking some other substance. The thing was - I vastly prefer pipe tobacco to cigs - it smells better, tastes better, is cheaper, and lets you measure out your dosage better.
I'm trying to quit, really, I am. I threw out my good pipe in an orgy of "I will quit. I will quit." a few weeks ago, when I thought my stress level was in decline - and I am doing a half pack a day of the cigs that I hate instead... it's a more expensive habit than the pipe was... I miss my pipe... I could smoke and write instead of gnawing at this filter...
From Jean Kilbourne's Can't buy my love
Although it is virtually impossible to measure the influence of advertising on a culture, we can learn something by looking at cultures only recently exposed to it. In 1980 the Gwich'in tribe of Alaska got television, and therefore massive advertising, for the first time. Satellite dishes, video games, and VCRs were not far behind. Before this, the Gwich'in lived much the way their ancestors had for a thousand generations. Within ten years, the young members of the tribe were so drawn by television they no longer had time to learn ancient hunting methods, their parents' language, or their oral history. Legends told around campfires could not compete with Beverly Hills 90210. Beaded moccasins gave way to Nike sneakers, sled dogs to gas-powered skimobiles, and "tundra tea" to Folger's instant coffee.
Human beings used to be influenced primarily by the stories of our particular tribe or community, not by stories that are mass-produced and market-driven. As George Gerbner, one of the world's most respected researchers on the influence of the media, said, "For the first time in human history, most of the stories about people, life, and values are told not by parents, schools, churches, or others in the community who have something to tell, but by a group of distant conglomerates that have something to sell." The stories that most influence our children these days are the stories told by advertisers.
gets some feedback from furdlog
on more thoughts on ad pollution
(which started with my Beating the Brand
I have to point out - since I wrote that and larry didn't link to it - I coulda been a contenda, I coulda...)
The kind of irresponsible/destructive behavior that Evan describes and then parallels with the issues that Larry holds so dear does not necessarily arise out of malevolence. If it were malevolent, it probably would be easier to cope with. Rather, what we're facing, for example through the appropriation of culture via IP laws and regulation, is a loss of community and shared appreciation for the responsibilities that are owed to one another outside the domain of the marketplace.
Of course, why kick about this? In the words of Gordon Gecko, "Greed is good," right? Apologies to my friends at Sloan, but there really are things that the market cannot value or, more accurately, there are things that societies shouldn't allow markets to value - the environment is one; culture is another. It's just the wrong working metaphor, leading to a variety of untoward behavior. And movements like environmentalism and, dare I say, Creative Commons come into being to develop ways to develop institutions and instruments that can harmonize human action across these different domains, rather than allowing a single perspective/institution/mechanism to overwhelm another.