Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The center collapses.

I went to a funny meeting last night with Theresa Putkey, a friend and the local chair of the Society of Technical Communicators. Wow, now I really am name dropping.

A bunch of creative writers gave a talk about the creative process, and ended up just going on about their copyright. Some of the crowd were wooed by this, and cherished dreams of making 6 and 7 figures on a blockbuster they wrote. Except that they won't. Others sat and yawned. And some, myself included, vascillated between basking in reflected glory and, well, our reality.

Chris Corrigan quotes McLuhan
: "The artist, when he encounters the present…is always seeking new patterns, new pattern recognition, which is his task. The absolute indispensability of the artist is that he alone in the present can give the pattern recognition."

This is a great observation, no doubt. The artist is, if you like, a service provider. But, in a branded age of blockbusters, artists have been cast as either superstars or nobodys. There is a more basic story: we are artists of our own worlds. Green marketing needs to address this reality above all.

For the most part, the narratives we write are not that interesting. There is the odd Tolstoy, and a lot of really ordinary, hook-laden writing. Movies, books, marketing stuff, business plans reports... all of these are usually pretty mediocre. Some of it informs ( like Tech Writing, which one can respect as useful writing), but most narratives conspire to take us outside of our actual experience and fantasize. We curl up with a big popular book or movie and are held in its arms. We complain about "too much information" but the moral problem is: we purposely leave relationship and choose mediated experiences over direct experience.

In the multi channel universe, the waning of manufactured blockbusters and the elongation of the Long Tail gives us a chance to listen to a lot of diverse stories - and maybe to reflect that relationship is more important than the stories we tell. I have to support the writers in the writers strike, but at the same time it seems like watching a sun set - blazing and impressive, then waning. It's a glimpse into the glorious, totalitarian warfare of old media.

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