May 21, 2009
A Conservative Vision
I love Dave Eggers’ style and spirit, but…
Nothing has changed! The written word — the love of it and the power of the written word — it hasn’t changed. It’s a matter of fostering it, fertilizing it, not giving up on it, and having faith. Don’t get down. I actually have established an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org — if you want to take it down — if you are ever feeling down, if you are ever despairing, if you ever think publishing is dying or print is dying or books are dying or newspapers are dying (the next issue of McSweeney’s will be a newspaper — we’re going to prove that it can make it. It comes out in September). If you ever have any doubt, e-mail me, and I will buck you up and prove to you that you’re wrong.
…this is demonstrably untrue, and far worse — if you consider what an idea factory McSweeney’s and 826 National have been — it’s uncreative. “Don’t get down” is 100% the wrong advice.
OK, so here’s my pitch for the right advice — just a simple rewrite:
Everything is changing! The written word — the love of it and the power of the written word — is still as powerful as ever, but it’s undergoing a seismic shift. If we care about the deep, durable stuff, then we need to get moving and get learning. Don’t simply have faith that things will work out; work them out. It’s time to get down to it. I actually have established an e-mail address, email@example.com — if invention seizes you by the scalp, if you see that publishing is changing and print is morphing and books are evolving and newspapers are rebooting and you want to be part of it (the next issue of McSweeney’s will be an E-Ink prototype — we’re going to do something with the medium you’ve never seen before). If you have any ideas, e-mail me, and I will help you make them real.