Telling and Selling

Posted: November 26, 2013 in Blogosphere, Blogroll, Industrial Collapse, Tacky, Taste, Writing
Tags: ,

My blogroll is curated, meaning that I link only to what I can recommend according to my own standards and values. Links have changed over the nearly eight years I’ve been blogging, the same as my blogging focus. I started out wanting to write a culture blog and unexpectedly careened toward writing more about doom once I became more fully awake and aware of just how horrific the future will be. There is no bigger story out there, and many people like me are telling it. Most adopt perspectives based on science or news (chronicling), transition and/or survival (prepping), or merely facing down what’s left of the future (coping). A few write dystopian fiction or conjecture about what will unfold (prediction). I try to explore some of the cultural story, which aims at understanding but arguably fits just as well under coping.

What really bums me out, though, is the number of writers who begin by telling and then end up selling, typically books or memberships. Maybe the intention behind writing books is to share what one has worked out and learned. A simple statement to that effect would calm me down, as I recognize books don’t get written and produced without some costs involved. But when a writer (best intentions not always assumed) shoves his or her book(s) in everyone’s face and implores them to buy multiple copies for family and friends (like, say, Morris Berman), well, let me just say I won’t be doing any holiday shopping that way.

Dave Pollard’s website has never been on my blogroll, though I’ve quoted him numerous times. Carolyn Baker’s website only recently came to my attention. They appear together in a conversation hosted by Peak Moment TV, which appears to be earnest in its reports on “people creating resilient communities for a more sustainable, lower-energy future in the face of energy, climate and economic uncertainty.” Content is offered for free, but there are the ubiquitous donate and support buttons if one wishes to contribute.

At the end, Baker’s desperation to position her book cover inside the video frame is appalling in its tackiness and clumsiness. I was so put off by her obvious selling that I couldn’t attend to whatever it was she said. Actually, I gave up listening to her long before then, but not because her message is poor (it’s okay, just not especially helpful). Pollard, on the other hand, doesn’t push his books. He tells that he’s already quite over his former objectives (the subjects of his books I suspect) because nothing worked or ever will work. Instead, he’s trying to help others cope, in part by preparing and positioning himself for when others have achieved readiness to face the truth. So, too, is Baker. Both seem to believe a remnant will manage somehow to survive. I’m less optimistic.

I don’t want to fall into the trap of the intentional fallacy: guessing the minds of others by their actions, words, and behaviors. But I’m a little weirded out by the notion that despite having missed the moving target repeatedly and revised his objectives (speaking here of Pollard — I lack familiarity with Baker to know her trajectory), he can now offer consolation and wisdom as we race toward the end. There is no lack of self-appointed gurus out there who attract followings, though I can’t imagine why anyone would seek that sort of prison except maybe for the self-aggrandizement factor. Even short of that, punditry makes most people look like fools. Someone stop me if ever I veer too close to believing that whatever I’m sharing here in this public venue and elsewhere will amount to more than one small voice calling out feebly into the cavern.

  1. I can relate. I just updated my blogroll and eliminated a guy for the same reason.

  2. Dan R says:

    I can’t say I begrudge them making a few pennies from extra book sales, especially in the case of Morris Berman who is a proper writer doing proper work and who really ought to be read (much, much) more than he is. The far greater problem as regards the great mass of bloggers, writers, etc. in this general area, is that most of them are idiots, charlatans, and/or loonies. Just look at the extent to which his Grand Wizardship, The Divine Thormaturge of the Four Winds, John Michael Greer is quoted approvingly. This is a man whose sole ability seems to lie in being able to cook a year-long feast of blog posts from the merest breadcrumb of learning (and who then maintains an iron grip on his blog comments to prevent his astonishingly trite, vapid and almost entirely uninformed observations being subject to the slightest criticism). The kind of unmitigated bollocks which flows through places like his blog (or Nature Bats Last or the comments at Kunstler or any of a thousand other blogs or God-awful Facebook pages) is a far more worthy object of scorn.

    • Brutus says:

      Interesting comment. I agree entirely that there are certainly worse targets out there on which to focus outrage, but as you might guess, I pay them no heed to start with. So my frustrations are with those in the middle who are not yet lost down the rabbit hole of self-hype and ought to know better. As you say, Berman is a real writer with valuable insights. But that only makes the irony of his own hustling and trolling more rich.

  3. Peter says:

    Brutus, love the ‘radical honesty’! Though his style was a bit more intolerant, another blogger I really appreciated was Dave Cohen (Decline of the Empire). Unfortunately, he’s “given up”, although he does still post the occasional piece.

    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment. This wasn’t a rant, though I have a few of those, too. So I dunno that radical honesty quite fits my thinking other than the fact that I’m taking to task those whom I feel are nonetheless fighting the good fight, sorta.

      I’ve also thought about giving up, since my themes are starting to recycle and I don’t know how much more there is to say about collapse, really. But I have other topics that still interest me.

  4. Brian Miller says:

    Hmm, I think I understand the sentiment. But, I’m a bit unclear about the boundaries you are setting. If I was lucky enough on my blog to be able to sell a book idea, then I’d certainly promote it on the blog site. Simply because I’d assume that people who read my blog might be interested in a copy of the work.
    What you seem to be getting at is an old fashioned middle class value that derides the man on the make. A value I happen to endorse while still being aware that it existed for people who did not need to be on the make, having already arrived.
    So, dear blogger Brutus, can you expand further? Or, at least enlighten me?

    • Brutus says:

      Boundaries? We don’t need no steenkin’ boundaries!

      I guess I can appreciate some confusion. Contrasting strong impressions were made on me by the video above: Baker’s desperate clumsiness pushing her books (maybe a signal of embarassment) and the lack of Pollard’s books being promoted. Both appear to believe they have important insights to offer, and perhaps they do. Seeking profit from those same offerings is I guess what irks me most. The man-on-the-make idea fits roughly, but once the subject of collapse is tied in, well, just about any profiteering strikes me as ghoulish.

      As I said, I could be quite wrong about their motivations. I’m responding to the video, but with the knowledge that others are indeed gaming collapse. I’d like to believe that, as things deteriorate, a few in the vanguard might model some grace from which others could learn, but then, I’d like to believe in meritocracy, too.

      • Brian Miller says:

        Ah, good old “Treasure of Sierra Madre”, I haven’t seen it in years. I think another viewing is in order. I’m trying to remember if B. Traven used that line in the novel? Probably not.

        This follow-up helped clarify your initial post. It is a bit ghoulish to seem to be profiting from the idea of collapse. But that is the essence of our version of capitalism in America. We, collectively as a culture, have no sense of community, the commons, shared destiny, etc. etc. One of the reasons I’m drawn to agrarian thought, even with its warts and limitations, is the emphasis on small scale and community ties. Two attributes that could be an essential antidote to the ills of hyper-individualism and/or the security state.

        Cheers (if that is allowed),

  5. motorola says:

    Please don’t close shop, I really enjoy your blog! You offer such sane, intelligent, rational, grounded and compassionate observations about the world.
    I came upon this site while searching for articles and interviews about Morris Berman’s work that aren’t on his site. I’m pretty much in agreement with your assessment of him: He’s done some excellent work and has some valuable insights but has, unfortunately, become ungracious and puerile in much of his comments over the last two years (I’m not sure why but I have a theory). I actually get more benefit from the other readers and end up addressing them instead.
    If you have to move the emphasis of this blog from societal collapse to, say, the philosophy of mathematics, that’s A-Okay by me. The manifestations of human consciousness are really what’s interesting anyway.

    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment. The idea of closing the blog hasn’t really gotten much traction with me, but it does arise from time to time. I haven’t really attracted a readership, which is probably a good thing, seeing how it ends up corrupting others who have.

      Manifestations of human consciousness (good phrase) have been a fascination of mine since adolescence. Berman and a handful of others have been instrumental in my working out a provisional understanding. Some experts claim to have it figgered, but I suspect we are stuck at provisional for the long term. It’s a shame, really, that Berman has turned out as he has, and I’m saddened by it. His utter lack of compassion as we all ride the ship down is, to say the least, problematic.

      I blog about what interests me, which is a lot of things, but one thing in particular has overtaken me, namely, TEOTWAWKI. I mention periodically that I can’t bear to focus on it too long, like staring at the sun. So my diversion into book blogging, slow and halting though it may be, is probably the focus for some time.

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