This is actually a word I saw on http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/08/amazons-new-author-feature-launches-and... in which the truly horrendous trend of total access to writers by (and total pablum-feeding to) readers is touted as a good thing.
Essentially, authors, reduced to caged and perpetually accessible performer-explainers, are meant to be available to answer any (stupid or not) question from their readers. "Uh, what did that mean that the dress was red in that part where she chose the red instead of the blue dress?" entirely subverting the purpose of literature, which is, at least in part, to engage the mind and imagination with the art. The word. Not with the writer of the word, but the word itself.
This is a serious denigration of literature and tantamount to saying that the book, the writing, cannot stand on its own, but must be interpreted instantly, and that the author must be accountable to explain any little bit that might be too hard for the hapless.
I find this appalling.
And what becomes, then, the difference between the work of a living author who can be captured and pressured into this bizarre circus, and that of one long dead (or unwilling, like Sven Birkerts) to participate. Do their works form a different canon, assigned, perhaps to the Antiquities?
What's next? Stationing artists alongside their paintings in museums and galleries, with a mandate to spew an infinite stream of garrulous interpretation? Musicians, stopping every few bars or so during a performance to explain the music?
There are times to meet with those readers who have enough motivation to actually show up at a lecture, reading or signing. These are often joyous encounters. There are times to communicate digitally. But constant internet accessibility to every bimbo, nutjob, idle or inept reader, or even a host of splendid appreciators, devalues writers, books, literature, imagination, analysis and the process of creation. When are these writers meant to write? When are they meant to read, to engage with peers, to sleep, perchance to dream?
For the last two months, I have been intensively "attending" webinars, tweety-things that I don't know the name for, LinkedIn discussions and industry seminars on e-publishing, on platform building, on author-reader engagement, etc. Much of it is admirably useless for me. Apart from Jane Friedman, whose advice is sound and flexible, largely because she does not have the chutzpah to insist that every writer's path is the same, even in the e-verse, (and I strongly suspect she actually likes books as well as "media" which is more than I can say for many of these e-pundits) what I have come away with is revulsion. Most of the advice is better suited to writers who produce books like "How I Painted My House" and not Mrs. Dalloway.
From what I see - from my place in literature, there is still a place for Anita Brookner, Margaret Drabble, AS Byatt, quietly writing sublime prose, occasionally emerging to discuss it with credible readers. This is the world in which I will remain as a reader and to which I aspire as a writer.
The rest of it makes me feel electrocuted. Frankensteinian. Lethal.
Causes Harrison Solow Supports
Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance