Friday, April 13, 2007

i'm too fucking busy

…and vice versa. (Thank you Dorothy Parker.) Well, today sorta sucked. One of those days where the devil to whom I’ve sold my soul looms menacingly close.
Here’s what happened: a small business owner who was seeking infomercial-like sales copy for her web site became frustrated and disappointed with my lack of capacity for slick marketing gimmickry. After analyzing this, I realize that I failed on two counts:

1. I believe (and generated a lack of engagement due to this belief) that her product is snake oil
2. Her aesthetic offends my sensibilities

I turned my nose up at the request for “…but wait! There’s more!” type spew, even though it appears that it’s the fastest way for this gal to make a buck selling her detoxification foot patches.

Coincidentally, on the eve of my disgrace, I attended Jonathan Lethem's lecture at the Schnitz, and got a nice dose of literary elitism that I drank up and savored. Here’s what Lethem has to say about the conundrum of sucking up to the normative world: Beware “insteadness" (his made-up term for the place we all go after we’ve outgrown the doobie and need a new escape hatch). Insteadness is why we’ll belly up to the Anna Nicole Smith paternity network, why we live lives seemingly absent of desperation, and why we keep stuffing our gullets full of salty, fatty, pacifying inertia-inducing mush.

And since I’ve signed up to grease the wheels of greed, I’m not allowed to side-step this. Even if it means writing shit like: change your hair—change your life. Even if it means adopting the syntactically challenged alliterative string of one word sentences that promote the gerund to imperative.

The other part of Lethem’s harangue was in support of psychological neoteny (which is the tendency to retain childlike traits into adulthood). Artists are wired for the playfulness, curiosity, humor, creativity, sensitivity and wonder associated with childhood, and it is this phenomenon—this acceptance—of neoteny that has kept us from disappearing (both figuratively—into the gaping black hole of insteadness, and literally—from extinction due to Limbaughesque black-and-white inflexibility where the button is all too accessible).

There in lies the rub for me. I embrace my own tendency toward neoteny until I get an earful from a pissed off client who wants me to craft a formula for success at the expense of my creative dignity, and then I become somber with the grief of a cynical adult. But hey, at least I’m writing.

1 comment:

  1. I was at Lethem's Portland lecture too, and starting thinking about insteadness.

    Which led me to start insteadness.com.

    I'd welcome your take on the idea of this site ;)

    ReplyDelete

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