professionalization of writing as extension of the force of the marketplace and the embrace of it by writers. gets us conflating writers being good professionals vs making good writing. I don’t want to turn this into a facebook post and it won’t be b/c people would hate me saying this but I am really frustrated with people thinking that holding people accountable for crimes and misdeeds as professionals/employees, and holding people accountable for crimes and misdeeds as citizens should be related to whether or not people get read. It should be related to whether or not people get jobs.
It’s important to see the relationship between who gets read/heard/listened to/praised for their work and who rose to their artistic status based on who they are in the world and not their writing/ at the expense of other humans. ie to check and keep revising the idea of merit. But I think you can go look at a piece of work and ask about its merit, the work it has done in the past and the work it does now. But I am bothered by using the eradication or refusal to look at a book as a punishment of a person? Even perhaps especially dead people.
I am torn of course: if what a person wants is to be celebrated for their writing, and they manipulate and terrorize people, meanwhile, and they are not punished economically or socially, maybe if you have no other power you at least have the power to read something else and tell others to do the same. Take the thing he loves and try to wreck it. Don’t put any scrap of that fool in your body. As a consumer. But it also grosses me out to see literary people trying to exert something like “consumer power.” It’s just so sad that this is what it comes to. We can’t even hold our imaginations in resistance to the market.
what you do to punish a dog is refuse to look at them. Can this be applied to people and not art? Can we let art circulate by other rules? In my utopia, is everyone Elena Ferrante and the Times keeps its trap shut in the name of art? Is my utopia all books are written by “anonymous”? There is a secret technology device that tracks your work and plunks money in your bank for it. (Of course, in the movie that technology is immediately hacked. Probably by an aspiring writer.) The $ makes the playing field even-er.
Can you keep the art if its doing good/critical/relevant work? The problem is I am a fiction writer, so the story of something really feels to me equal to the reality of something. It really does. So when I want to keep Lolita safe, I don’t care if anyone reads it stupidly and uses it as justification for prurience because when I am reading I get to think about things in another way for once. I don’t care if we find out that Mr. N was in life what Humbert was in fiction because, same. That is a separate story. It overlaps like all sorts of other kinds of reading.
I mean we know our presidents committed all kinds of crimes why are they sacred and people want to kill works of art? Or better– b/c I bet the same people who want to change the story of books do want to change the story of presidents– is it the same to change the story of a book as it is to change the story of a president? How is the same and how is it different I am not analytical or educated enough to say and I think it is important to think about if you’re out there wielding choices at books.
I still think the book has its own integrity and work by work, it will fall in and out of relevance and kinds of relevance to our times in relation to how well we can read. Is this trend just a giving in to the power of how not-well people read in real daily constant average life. Surely there are a lot of lame books that keep taking coveted shelf and classroom space from other more or just as worthy books just b/c they have the infrastructure.
I don’t believe in this coming out in the wash any more than I believe in any other.
Truly brown/queer/women should win all the prizes for the next 250 years before anyone blinks at it– but prizes does not equal art. Prizes are economic. They help living people make more art and in that way matter to art. But I also wonder: if you are in prison can you win the NBA? Do I think you should be able to? Not to mention I’m against prison in its current form (not to mention any historical forms I know of). And that is the shape of my thinking, it fizzles out.