Michelle Silva: First I want to ask about your recent book Devotional Cinema. I think it’s some of the most thoughtful and introspective writing on the human experience of cinema and the physical properties we share with the medium -- such as our internal visual experience, metaphor, and the art of seeing. What’s great about the book is that it’s accessible to people who aren’t well versed in cinema, but who might be interested in a deeper understanding of their own senses.
Nathaniel Dorsky: The basic ideas for the book were originally formulated because I was hired to teach a course on avant-garde film at UC Berkeley for a semester. I didn’t want to teach a survey course on avant-garde cinema; I didn’t think I could do that with real enthusiasm, I thought it would be a little flat. I decided that what was most interesting to me about avant-garde film -- or at least the avant-garde films that I found most interesting -- was a search for a language which was purely a filmic language.
NewPages.com will be offline for a day or two near the 24th of December as we switch to a new web host. They say that's the most we should be missing, but if it's longer than that, keep trying & we'll show back up. Those promises have been made.
I've been doing a lot of research this month on indie publishers, and I've been finding a much larger number of companies that are will to help you "publish" your book than I realized existed. It is becoming a large marketplace, and there are fistsfull of cash to be extracted from naive authors.
So now we have some of the companies that will sell you the chance to win a meaningless book award (Yippie!) -- that's a whole 'nuther scam to talk about someday -- offering to help you "publish" your book with promises of promoting it to huge sales. Slick, ethics-free, websites make it all sound so simple.
More from Tayari Jones: "It has been carefully documented on this blog and on my own, that publishing houses often neglect to publicize the books that they have agreed to publish. It becomes pretty clear to an author that she is going to have to get out there and hustle if she wants her book to reach readers, reviewers, prize committees, etc. Many articles have been written by editors and publicists urging more authors to get out there and HUSTLE.
I’ve done it. I’ll admit it. Many authors of literary fiction feel demeaned by the dirty-hands work of hawking their book. And, though we seldom admit it, it is also pretty depressing work. Literary fiction does not exactly lend itself to the same techniques that work well for urban lit, romance, and mystery novels. One writer friend of mine told me of her dismay at sitting at a book festival next to a romance author who had brought along a troupe of bare-chested policemen to draw attention to her steamy novel."
This from Tayari Jones: "There is something resembling an obituary to Bebe Moore Campbell in the newest Newsweek. The Newsweek piece, called Will Sleaze Dominate Black Publishing, laments that writers like Campbell are less popular than authors of non-fiction tell-alls such as Karrine Stephans.
I have to say that I have had enough of this particular narrative.
I am not disputing that racy, celebrity laden books like Confessions of a Video Vixen outsell literary novels. Instead, I am getting sick of the way that commercial writers are set up as the antagonists of literary novelists. I don't think that I'm going to far in left field to wonder why this seems to be a discussion waged far more often when it comes to African American literature."
That's why she gets paid the big bucks. To know about obscure search engines that nobody else ever hears about...
So, what? Are we back now?
Uh-oh. Note the last sentence. "...an important resource for today's consumer."
I don't quite know what to say about that, but it settles in my stomach with a thud.
I'm sure that is why a corporate publisher would latch on to a publication like Utne -- because they can now sell a lot more advertising pages aimed at us "conscientious" and "environmentally aware," uh, consumers. (I almost wrote "readers.")
The Ogden website states that they publish magazines and books "for people interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability, rural lifestyles and farm memorabilia." I don't know. It just doesn't seem like how I would ever have defined Utne magazine.
Ogden is headquartered in Topeka, Kansas -- home base of the "Charles Darwin is the devil -- God did it all in six days" mindset.
They publish Grit magazine. One of their other magazines, Cappers, has been "striving to enlighten and entertain while concentrating on traditional American values."
Read the last of that sentence again: "traditional American values."
Although it appears Utne will remain based in Minneapolis, I have a strong feeling that we won't be seeing anything too radical or controversial in their pages after this. Or maybe it will feel like the same magazine for a while, and then "evolve" more into the Ogden mold.
Utne grew quickly to become a wonderful and vital publication, giving important coverage to lesser known alternative magazines. Their coverage of smaller mags makes a difference in our culture, and I wonder how much longer we'll see that. They currently have on staff one of the smartest and most dedicated persons around to the cause of finding, reviewing and promoting the best -- and often amazingly obscure -- alt mags and zines.
But the focus off of the alternative *press* has been going on for a while. The January 2005 issue carried the subtitle: "A Different Read on Life."
The November 2005 issue has the new subtitle: "Understanding the next evolution."
Now I cringed when I first saw that. A bit too "new-agey" for my tastes. And too cute, by far, the way they were able to come up with something using the letters U T N E...
And is it not priceless that the magazine of the "next evolution" is now headquartered in the state where the "first evolution" is being
banished from school textbooks?
Mark my words. This is not a good thing for alternative media.
Well, explain that. What is religion?
Religion is a search for transcendence. But transcendence isn't necessarily sited in an external god, which can be a very unspiritual, unreligious concept. The sages were all extremely concerned with transcendence, with going beyond the self and discovering a realm, a reality, that could not be defined in words. Buddhists talk about nirvana in very much the same terms as monotheists describe God.
. . . Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime, by UC Riverside ethnic studies professor Dylan Rodr
. . . In “Market Censorship,” New Press founder André Schiffrin discusses the situation of booksellers: "The market, it is argued, is a sort of ideal democracy. It is not up to the elite to impose their values on readers, publishers claim, it is up to the public to choose what it wants — and if what it wants is increasingly downmarket and limited in scope, so be it. The higher profits are proof that the market is working like it should."
NP: The question is which came first, the love of human rights or books?
Taylor: Who remembers for sure? I’m not sure I ever separated the two. The hunger for justice is every bit a part of our experience as love or death. We’ve always believed literature has an effect on people’s lives.
Along with discussing his philosophy of publishing and life, Sandy gives would-be literary publishers many tips from his long career--advice on finding a distributor, getting into bookstores, the academic market, getting reviews, conferences to attend, and the importance of promotion. "...all kinds of factors involved in keeping the 'culture of the book' alive."
Saturday was best summed up by Orchid Co-Executive Editor Keith Hood at about 3:45 p.m., just before the Literary Journal Panel. Responding to somebody who asked how the day had been going, Keith replied:
"It hasn't sucked as much as I thought it would."
And a bit more...