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Who, What, Where & When?
Questions at this new start.
My last post, Correspondence, looked at my predilection for letter-writing as a drive behind all my writing. It pointed at the ways in which the outlets available help and hinder us as we work to develop and maintain a correspondence, a relationship via an ongoing engagement with writing. This brings us to the four W’s. Who am I writing to/for? What am I writing? Where will it appear? And, when, how frequents should posts be?
All these questions take on a particular flavor because of the possibilities I’m exploring here at Substack.
If, as I have, you’ve recently found Substack; you’re probably aware of all the writers here who’ve been writing about its promise, providing a new kind of relationship between writer, reader, and platform.
I remember a similar feeling when I discovered WordPress after bouncing around among and between the various options back in 2009/10 when I started Horizons of Significance. “The Net” was going to democratize information and provide easy access to those who were increasingly finding it hard to get any traction from the then still dying publishing industry. Theses promises were hard to ignore. Even as they were equally hard to believe….
Now as every traditional outlet for any creative activity is either dead or undead, ignoring its profound rot and pretending to go on as before while the rest of us look on in horror…. It doesn’t help that this state of affairs has been predictable and has been predicted for decades. Nor that this rot and corruption is not restricted to these “markets” or “industries,” but is pandemic throughout every avenue of action, every way we have traditionally looked to handle the friction between where we find ourselves and who we think we are. We still need to find ways to proceed. And, and I think this is increasingly significant; what creative people do and how we approach the predicaments of life; helps all of us find new ways to imagine different ways to live.
Ursula Le Guin’s comparison of our view of Capitalism in relation to an earlier view of the divine right of kings puts it well,
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”
We do find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism; or as we resist peeling the onion of our dissolution, whatever more deeply hidden rock of polluted thought it grew out of. Her entreaty; that we remember that a similar hole in imagination held true for the right of kings all the way up the steps of the Guillotine as the tumbrels rolled in Paris during the Reign of Terror; chills us. This is how this kind of thing ends.
What we have here is a crisis of imagination!
There has been a lot of hard won disillusionment since 2009. Watching the way, starting with the “Arab Spring” and the way it was derailed and marginalized and ongoing for decades now the way every attempt for any break away from the jaws of our Behemoth has been metabolized and pulled back into the insanity of having to choose between survival and “success.”
The habits of Thought that have led us here need to be reexamined, even as this forces us to slow down and continuously unpack what we had considered fundamental assumptions. One aspect of this has been our impulse to “analyze problems” by isolating them from context and simplifying parameters until we can imagine that life and its predicaments are reducible to problems to be solved.
Be assured that the convolutions of my writing “style” result from this need and are not a perverse desire to cater to some infinite regress of qualifiers! A foundational lesson of the last few decades has been that unless we do what it takes to keep from blindly repeating the same old errors again and again we will never break free of a paradigm that is killing us.
Holding on the the notion that questions of writing and reading; what to write/who to read; are inextricably tied to the systems organizing a society and the way the available media either help or hinder these investigations; we still need one more digression.
Twenty odd years ago our sense of isolation for those of us questioning the course of the world was felt mainly as a disconnect between what seemed obvious to us and the depths of denial that surrounded us in our profound isolation. For me this manifested as self-censoring. Outside of the remove supplied by posting to the net I was extremely reluctant to get into the arguments and disagreements and escalating frictions I was sure would follow if I were to attempt to bring my realizations to bear in my day to day life by confronting people around me with these questions. My instinctive aversion to conflict backed up a growing understanding that “debate” would not resolve these “differences.” All of our old strategies involve turning everything into a battle, breaking the whole into unviable parts, and then making quantified judgements out of which we make plans and offer solutions. All the while completely missing the point that this “system” has never worked and cannot be seen to work as soon as we widen our view to include “externalities” and “unintended consequences.”
There was also a deeply felt sense that I needed to write simply as a way of figuring out what it was that I thought. How had I gotten to where I was. How did being the way I was affect how I saw things. How could any of these conditions evolve. I realized that even without an “audience,” a “readership,” I still needed to write for my own sake.
There was a distinct feeling that through writing I was exploring and annotating a passage through strange lands and harrowing conditions. That there was a value in this even if there were no other, more obvious, and externally rewarding results to be seen as posts went out into that bewildering sea of Search Engine Optimizations like the proverbial message-in-a-bottle.
The last few years have been quite different in many respects. Most people no longer believe everything is fine. Even though the depths to which they are willing to follow the Great Lie to avoid having to consider what is at stake and their part in our ongoing self-destruction continues to amaze….
In the last few years a growing realization that no level of understanding the depths and breadths of our Predicament was ever going to lead to a position from which anyone would ever be able to, if not “solve or crises,” be able to lead us to some reignited imagination coupled with a healthy sense of self preservation that might get enough of us to break out of the common assumptions before the tumbrels rolled again.
Understanding, as does everything within our spheres of action, has its limits.
Couple this with a sense that, following a dramatic timeline I’ve carried with me since hearing my father talk about what it was like receiving the news of the Titanic disaster when he was eleven; we are long past the point of slowing down, or spotting the berg with time to spare, or getting the Californian to notice our presence and come to our aide. It became clear we were entering some form of final plunge. It was about to get really chaotic and noisy, before everything goes still and eerily silent….
Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise that around this time my attention turned with surprising vehemence and with a depth of commitment I’ve rarely enjoyed towards music.
Nearer My God to Thee….
It’s taken a while for these new conditions to be internalized and to begin to bring me enough of a sense of what it might all mean and bring about a renewed impulse to write. To have “something to say, again.”
And then Substack came along…
So, here we are…
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