Sunday, October 07, 2007

Zen Again

Just as I am finishing up the "paper" for my "Artist, Medium, Instrument" presentation in Seoul later this month as part of the "Conference on Buddhism and New Media," I get an email from R U Sirius informing me that 10 Zen Monkeys has just published "Is The Net Good For Writers?"

From the intro:
Novelist William Burroughs met playwright Samuel Beckett, and after some small talk, Beckett looked directly at Burroughs and said, propitiously, "You're a writer." Burroughs instantly understood that Beckett was welcoming him into a very tiny and exclusive club — that there are only a few writers alive at any one time in human history. Beckett was saying that Burroughs was one of them. Everybody writes. Not everybody is a writer. Or at least, that's what some of us think...


I've asked ten professional writers [...] to assess the net's impact on writers. Here are their answers to the question...
The ten responses come from Erik Davis, Mark Dery, Jay Kinney, Paul Krassner, Adam Parfrey, Douglas Rushkoff, John Shirley, Clay Shirkey, Michael Simmons and myself.

Some choice quotes:
"Used to be I sat at an alphabet keyboard (called typewriters in my day) when I had an assignment or inspiration. Now it's all I do. Go to a library? Why? You can get what you need on the internet. Which means I've been suffering from Acute Cabin Fever since 1999 (when I tragically signed up for internet access). Sure, I could get off my ass and go to a library, but the internet is like heroin. Why take a walk in the park when you can boot up and find beauty behind your eyelids or truth from the MacBook? (Interesting that the term 'boot-up' is junkie-speak.)" (Michael Simmons)

"It's a no-brainer that writing is a communicative act, and always has been. And I'll eagerly grant the point that composing in a dialogic medium like the net is like typing onstage, in Madison Square Garden, with Metallica laying down a speed metal beat behind you. You're writing on the fly, which is halfway between prose and speech." (Mark Dery)

"The early to mid-1990s was a very special time in American culture, a strange and giddy Renaissance where esoteric topics freely mixed and matched in a highly sampledelic culture." (Erik Davis)

"There is one thing the printing press does not change, of course, which is the scarcity of publishing. Taking a fantastical turn, one could imagine a world in which everyone had not only the ability to read and write but to publish as well. In such a world, of course, we would see the same sort of transformation we are seeing now with the printing press, which is to say an explosion in novel forms of writing." (Clay Shirkey)
The Zen Monkeys have also just published a piece by Susie Bright entitled "Beyond the ‘Zipless Fuck’ With Erica Jong"...
SB: You make it sound like men are the only ones who are having a small health setback. What about the women?

EJ: The women, for the most part, seem healthier than the men. At least anecdotally...

There are lots of ways out of this. Yes, you can find younger people. Yes, you can find — you know, your 30-year-old male lover with a constant erection. Apart from the fact that mostly they don't want women who are 60. (Laughs) Some do. You know. For whatever Oedipal reasons...

But one is too wise, by then, to think of it as anything but a zipless fuck. Or a zipless fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck-fuck — and done, because you don't want to be their nurse, and you don't want to be their purse. I did that when I was in my 40s. And you don't want to blurb their book — their bad book.

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