Thursday, August 5, 2010

torn and Tatlin!

Tatlin! Doing my part for the Guy Davenport revival.

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs and Neon Bible
Matthew Dear, Black City

Media Announcement: My review of the new Arcade Fire is up at "It's like the naughtiness of the key party reduced to keyless entry."

I wrote the following diatribe yesterday and wasn't going to post it, but the reality of the fading of net neutrality in regards to the Google-Verizon deal hit my "money ruins everything" button in a similar way, so here it is.

I am a little torn about the news of Barnes & Noble financial troubles. There are many reasons to hate Barnes & Noble. They run out the sweet little bookshops from which you calmly browsed but never bought anything in favor of a gigantic one in which you never buy anything either, only to apparently no make so much money at it. And imagine how much they will suck when someone buys out Barnes & Noble and adds their touch. That paneling will slowly be phased out. The top mural of author caricatures will give way a massive canvas for slogans. And then that company will go under and we'll have a giant empty store next to the run down movie theatre, and then the rats will come.  And we still won't have any bookstores in which to browse and hardly ever buy anything because eBooks (or e-books or whatever; book pills) kinda make a lot of sense for consumers once they get the  technology figured out and the paper and ink fetishists will be sent to the library where the books and CD's and magazines that one didn't buy at Barnes & Noble are free anyway.

I also happen to like Barnes & Noble, at least the one here, despite having been a first-hand witness to the cult-like mind control it exerts on its employees. I like seeing that last single copy of my book in the music section, even though there were once two others from which I have not seen a nickel. And I like little dusty bookshops too, except for the fact that they never have anything you want and but we can order it but but I can order it too, more easily and with a discount, and while an Amazon box is always a welcome visitor to one's doorstep, it doesn't compare to that one time in ten that you do find what you want at a  dusty little bookshop or, better yet, something you long forgot about wanting and they have it used.

So, yeah. Torn. I went gleefully post-object with my voracious music habits and for the most part am happy with the decision, but I also see its points of failure: relying on systems that have less than reliable business models, the potential narrowing of availability.  I am a life long library nerd and think every book on earth is available to me for free because it is - for now. Again, until the rats come.

Tatlin was a Constructivist. I used to keep a copy of a book of Constructivist manifestos I got at dear old departed Caliban's on top of the toilet tank because those fervent little diatribes about how we should do things are inspiring. I've similarly kept copies of Leaves of Grass and Finnegans Wake there for the same reason.  More than one person has told me (OK; two) that they keep my book in their bathroom and that, to me, is a place of honor. A friend whose book I'm currently rather enjoying suggested on his Facebook that we (like all of us) start a Guy Davenport revival and, on my part, I offered to read Tatlin! once I finish his and then a dystopian black comedy about a future where books are passe  and maybe the old Contructivist will show me the art-in-service-of the-greater good way of how to erect my scattered consumerist thoughts into a gleaming tower of wisdom. At least I checked the book out.

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