But whether you read “Rip Van Winkle” as a statement on politics, marital relations, or as a tale that binds history to nature – Van Winkle’s bowling partners are determined to be Hendrick Hudson’s crew, and summer thunder in the Catskills is taken to be the sound of their pins crashing – the fact remains: Rip Van Winkle does nothing and gets away with it.
Dialastar.com and the Future of Micro-Access
At first blush, dialastar.com appears to be a crass scheme by a former porn star to leverage the shameless desperation of attention-starved D-listers and the lower impulses of celebrity-crazed American dimwits and/or ironic potheads. And it is all that. Users pay up to $25/minute to speak to future trivia questions like Michael Lohan, Chris Crocker, and Angie Everhart.
But might it also be more?
While credible literary lights like Emerson, Dickens, and Twain supported themselves — in their day — via public appearances, something has always struck me as not quite right about returning to that model. For one thing, it will mean we have arrived at a point where each pole of the marketing magnet — the book and the tour — is supposed to pay for the other, with the result that both are given away. Plus, the idea of supporting modern media with something so 19th-century as a speaking tour is just a little too steam-punky, if you know what I mean.
But this dialastar.com, this makes sense. What Emerson, Dickens, and Twain were really selling — after all — was access. Writing was their advertisement, but proximity was their product. And for many writers, who make livings as academics, it still is. The paid speaking tour hasn’t gone away. We’ve just jacked up the price, extended it to two years, and dratically limited enrollment (although probably still not by enough.) We sell maxi-access to writers, in the form of MFAs. But what about micro-access? Where’s the model for that? Maybe it’s dialastar.com.
Imagine dialanauthor.com, a site where you can talk to Jonathan Franzen or Jennifer Egan or, gulp, David Patterson for $5/minute or $5/minute or $500/minute (respectively). Do you think people would call? Do you even doubt for a minute that they would? Can you imagine if Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon were on there?
Go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive.
If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men—you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.
Next I blew my entire Amazon gift card balance on — and this is the delicious part — a Kobo Touch eReader. That’s right. Amazon doesn’t handle these directly, of course, but you can spend gift card balances with Amazon merchants, which is how I was able to buy the Kobo. It should arrive in a week and then, as a reader at least, I’ll be Amazon-free.
I don’t want to make any heated edicts or promises I can’t keep, but Amazon seems bent on forcing me to reconsider my agnosticism. I note all this, despite the fact that it exposes me as less than ideaologically pure, because I want to warn Amazon how they are alienating content producers — even friendly ones — bit by bit.
K8lin!’ I yelled, hitting the screen with a rolled up People. K8lin winced, balancing on her juice-stained little wings.
Like Ami Greko, I’m not exactly sure what the cover of this week’s New Yorker is trying to say. Books are dead? E-books are bad? Old white men are befuddled? In any case, my friend Daniel Radosh long ago taught me the appropriate response to non sequiturs in The New Yorker. That’s right: a caption contest. There is a prize.