Imminent Doom & Other Vacation Spots

“An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.”

 

William Butler Yeats

from “Sailing to Byzantium”

 

Going within – the passage into dark, deep waters in the eternal night of the cavern of subjectivity. Will one arrive at Byzantium or any shores at all?  In the flashes of lightning the seas are rough, whitecapped, and in the gloom the sailor beholds monsters in the deep, some with shining eyes; they nearly surface menacingly and then dive down, down into the abysmal mysteries where all dreams and nightmares sleep.

 

Crises – will the wife leave or throw me out due to dissatisfaction?  Will I maintain what post I have from month to month teaching philosophy to the resistant and sometimes thoroughly uninterested?

 

 “What’s this got to do with computer technology?”

 

Indeed.

Or earning a living, if that’s defined in economic terms as Americans and nearly all the world, now is inclined to believe and believe fervently.  Come on – get the show on the road; we know nothing of this “Byzantium” or an “interior life” or retreat.  Nope.  We are storming the gates of the future and seizing whatever is there to be taken for booty.  By any means, let me tell you, and then we will be happy. 

 

Happiness, damn it, and nothing less, happiness and ease and progress.  What use is history, sir?  What point is all this nonsensical talk of “limit” and theory and value – value?  I’ll show you value: New car every year, fistfuls of cold Benjamins, big houses, vacations, and the corner office with the window.  Or whatever.  If I can touch it and spend it and use it, it is all the “value” I care to know anything about.  And, of course, old man, leftover from some dead age, you have nothing to teach me about that.

 

Indeed.

 

We have the monuments of our own magnificence – the skyscrapers and jets, the all-knowing oracle of the internet: science and its children, physical technologies.  Not that we know anything of science or the culture required to keep the enterprise alive; but we do know the value of antibiotics and facelifts and faster cars and air conditioning and the iPhone. 

 

No, I’ve little to add to the lists of what you already think you know.  No, I’ve less than nothing to tell you about making money or keeping it or attaining status of any sort, much less more than token and impermanent respect and its false substitutes.  How else to explain these “tatters upon a stick”?  It’s not as if I can afford a new suit and that’s not by accident.  Yes, I shop at the thrift store.  No, I never made enough at my art to pay the bills or fill the car with gasoline more than a few times.  Yes, it’s depressing.  No, I’m no one to envy.

 

If you’d only worked harder… or, my favorite, “Worked  smarter.”

 

God knows, I’m not smart or else I’d fit right in.  Even the cheapest village has a place for its idiot and I couldn’t even get that job and hold it long.  Adios, hit the road, Jack and don’t come back no more, no more, no more.

 

So, here I am, as happens more and more often, in retreat, gone within on the high, mean seas, sailing for a myth near my heart which, too, is probably a myth.  The world outside has gone mad, at last, or, as it would say back to me, I was always crazy to expect the world not to experiment with every form of drug, even fascism, even the destruction of civility and sociability and tolerance and, and, and….  Hell, we, as humans, have done this over and again for well over a hundred years – why not let America have its turn at the table of pure weirdness?  Cash it all in and eat to our bellies are full-to-bursting with satisfied paranoid strangeness and hatred, violence and death?

 

After all, we owe it to ourselves.  Mom and dad’s left us the credit card and gone on permanent vacation – let’s have a party and only invite “our  kind,” hire security to beat the hell out of any gate crashers and televise it all, just for fun and ratings.  Why not?

 

I got tired of saying, out loud, “How long, O Lord?  How long?”  Yeah, I still pray it, but deep inside while taking the night journey to Nowhere.  Or “Not-here,” at any rate.

 

You go on your permanent vacation and leave me to mine.  You’ll be more the missed.  Genuinely.  If we survive this savage and ugly period of history, perhaps I’ll come back out and sing my tuneless songs of philosophy and share other sorts of magical words and draw some pictures.  And maybe you’ll be interested then.  But not now.  I know and it’s not your fault – the pink slip was handed to me a long time ago, in childhood, and I was too much of a dunce to read it rightly:  the ticket to Byzantium, not the inaugural ball or even to any sort of position that would show… well, hell, not even something like my great-grandfather’s job as head of the custodial department at the local college.

 

He could at least raise a family off that and maintain property with some dignity.

 

Different age. 

 

Ages pass.  I was not born for the past and, I fear, not for the present.  My country is the one for old men who have passed, are passing, and are yet to be.

 

27 May 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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Fun, American Style: What the Fuck Happened?

Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016

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Today, I Deliver the Bad News

I see this making the rounds; Wil Wheaton, of course, is right, but neither is he the first person to recognize this. He just has umpteen-million followers on social media, so becomes the jumping-off point for a continuation of the ubiquitous complaint that creative people are no longer paid for their labor.

The expectation now is that a creative person — writer, artist, etc. — is expected to create content for money-making entities without financial compensation on the bet that it will “eventually” pay-off in paying work or you selling other things associated with your “brand” – i.e. your reputation, your name, your “fame.”

In reality, of course, almost no one gets paid ever — the mythical “eventually” never arrives. Why? In the internet age, words, images, whatever, are expected by the users of the medium to be free. It all sprang into existence, seemingly, as an apple springs into being from a tree in the wilds of untamed nature for you to pluck and enjoy without so much as a by-your-leave or a thank you to the tree that generated it. Why? That’s what apple trees do — make apples. It won’t die if you don’t acknowledge it or leave it a few dollars.

By analogy, creative people make things — new ideas, stories, essays, comics, illustrations, art. And since we no longer live in a world where people know one another as actual people with problems like bills or having to pay for internet connections or art supplies or insurance, it is easier to see the creative person as an unconscious, barely-living entity akin to a tree that “just makes things.” We flip through the internet, see images we like, words we like, pluck them from the virtual tree — the creative person is not present to complain or give evidence of humanity and human needs — and make use of them freely.

Unless one’s name is already a “brand,” unless one already has fame and reputation (or is dead), this appropriation of another’s work for one’s own enjoyment actually de-values, financially, the work of the creative person. A person who already makes a living from her creativity has little to fear by the spread of her fame and reputation by the free use of some of her older work. It just builds the financial worth of her future work as the waiting masses are willing to pay to read the next essay, the next lecture, the next movie, to see the next piece of art, the next comic, the next play.

The unknown creative, on the other hand, rarely achieves this virtuous circle of financial reward because her name, her life, almost always remains separated — alienated –from her work… which, after all, is out there for free; and she is encouraged to provide more “content” – read: product — for the money-makers on that mythic promise that, one fine day, she, too with have reputation and fame and people will pay her, too, for her work by associating her name and life with her work. Just keep giving it away: the the magic of the marketplace will create a paying demand for her work.

And the state will one day wither away and we will live in a communistic/libertarian/anarchistic paradise where each is rewarded for just being alive and creative. Right?

Prostitutes know better, for god’s sake. Give it away and everyone thinks they can get it for free anytime they like. Or, at best, not even leave enough of a tip on the nightstand to pay for that day’s smack fix.

Of course, the paradox now is this: few media institutions are paying for creative work, much less enough to eke out a living and once one gets old enough to have the plagues of chronic illness, to get the next prescription filled or the weekly trip to the doctor. Or anything else as no one else is interested in giving a damn thing away.

The market changed out from under us. Why buy your essay or a new piece of art, or whatever, when older works by dead people can be mined and cribbed absolutely for free — the copyrights are expired, the copyright holders are dead, and now you get 5,000 free books for Kindle you’ll never have enough days or inclination to read as it is — because you’re watching TV shows and movies cribbed and mined from books and comics written and drawn for a pittance 40 years ago by dead and dying people.

And, no, for the most part, even the heirs of those dead people aren’t getting Jack Shit for it, either. Go ask Jack Kirby — I think he coined the term “Jack Shit” to describe his own exploitation by Marvel and DC Comics, much less George Lucas in getting the basic uncredited plot themes and content of Star Wars from “The New Gods.”

But at least he could sell his work back in the day to someone who’d pay something, enough to raise a family as long as he kept churning out tons of work 23 hours a caffeine-and-nicotine-powered day. Same with Bill Ward and a small host of others.

And creative people generally do not mind churning out work 23 hours a day — we’re doing it from within all of the time, assembling, reassembling, disassembling, satirizing, playing poker with the dangerous mafioso of archetypal forces that populate the psyche…. Laziness was never our problem — it’s the work of the possessed who burn out their lives to bring into the world new worlds, new visions, new interpretations, new theories, ideas, beliefs, hopes, despairs. We just don’t want to starve to death, get divorces, lose our kids, homes, and the meds that keep one of our feet in the “sane” world in the process.

Ah, but that is too damn much to ask or expect now.

No “revolution” is coming to “fix” this culture — sorry Bernie-ites. Politics doesn’t fix historical trainwrecks of this magnitude.

What, rather who fixes mass cultural suicides are creative people. Not economics, politics, not media, not CEOs and managers, and the like — but that would require you, the audience, to keep us alive (also known as: “Pay Us For Our Labor”) and not counting on our stupidity and largess to keep producing and showing you new visions and words gratis for your entertainment.

But you’ve drunk the cyanide and nihilism-laced grape Kool Aid and will not be coming back, even as zombies, to offer some employment-for-cash. It’s all free, free, free.

Enjoy your freedom. We earned it for you. I’m just here, as usual, to deliver the bad news. At no charge.


‪#‎WilWheaton‬ ‪#‎JackKirby‬ ‪#‎BillWard‬ ‪#‎HuffingtonPost‬ ‪#‎Salon‬ ‪#‎creativity‬‪#‎freelancing‬ ‪#‎comics‬ ‪#‎undergroundcomix‬ ‪#‎comix‬ ‪#‎essay‬ ‪#‎free‬‪#‎StarWars‬ ‪#‎GeorgeLucas‬ ‪#‎nihilism‬ ‪#‎poverty‬ ‪#‎philosophy‬ ‪#‎art‬ ‪#‎writing‬

http://www.salon.com/…/wil_wheaton_is_right_stop_expecting…/

Richard Van Ingram

2 May 2016

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