Saturday, August 20, 2016

What works, what doesn't, as a voice in the wilderness of social media and the blogosphere

William Blake never got a break ... until he was near death.

The problem isn't the poetry, it's the medium. Most of the greatest poets who are internationally recognized pre-date color TV. Dylan, Lennon, Springsteen and later Leonard Cohen took poetry and carried it across the airwaves on a musical vehicle a book of poetry could never attain. In terms of popularity, who cares? Sure, poets are minimized in comparison. If there was an Incredible Hulk of poetry, how bad would that be? A small press poet is something to be. Their art is no less meaningful despite a competitive environment that has relegated the poetry book medium into the arcane shadows of the dispossessed. As Blake wrote, "It is not my job to reason or compare. My job is to create." If I can move a room full of 20 people, then I have made a wave in the turning of the world ... In other words, a pin-prick fraction of eight billion souls is still a shitload.


Using social media as a news gathering source has its drawbacks. It's hard to get people to write. They just hit "like" and move on. This after I posted the following on Facebook: I'm doing an article on the National Park Service centennial and I'm looking from people about their recent experiences at National Parks, as well as related issues, such as encroaching development. Looking for quotes, so please give me a hand ..." The only response I got was a like from a new friend in Timor, Indonesia.


It happened: The Mythville blog finally surpassed 100,000 visits. My story and interview with Gordon Lightfoot finally pushed it over the edge. Thank you, whoever you are, 100,000th visitor ... You've made a lone voice in the wilderness of the web a happy man today ...

Just looked at some of the reports on Trump's rally in North Carolina, and Jared Yates Sexton, who has turned tweeting crowd commentary into an art form, has noticed a new form of behavior. After the GOP candidate blames the media for his sinking in the polls, people like to stalk the area cordoned off for reporters covering his campaign to shout insults and take photos of journalists, as if they were trying to intimidate them. As Sexton tweeted tonight, "I heard several people talking about wanting to hurt the press, several mentioning a civil war if Trump loses. This is building in a hurry."


Trump got his first intelligence briefing this week. On page one on the list of threats was a warning about a madman in the U.S. stirring up hatred in large gatherings, threatening political assassinations and nuclear war. Trump ran out of the room, in terror, retreating to his tower.


Who owns America's film companies? Up to a few years ago, 20th Century Fox was owned by Rupert Murdoch, but now is apparently still under that empire's wing, owned by Fox Entertainment Group. Columbia Pictures is owned by Sony. Paramount Pictures is owned by Viacom, owned by the family of Sumner Redstone, a long-time Democrat who nonetheless endorsed George W. Bush for president because he said it would be better for his business. That industry, in turn, has turned into a forum for supposedly "serious" films with a heavy post-9/11 heroism vibe, comic book blow outs, yuppie training films posing as comedies, and, getting back to the topic, buddies with guns. Anyhow, these major corporations have very little interest in artistic undertakings. They are casting out their nets for the blockbuster bucks. Clearly, a key engine for the dumbing down of America. P.S. Paramount's blockbuster attempt, a remake of "Ben Hur," is tanking this weekend. It's as if Hollywood has completely run out of ideas and now they are paying for it.

By far the biggest response I got this week, other than a good number of hits for my archived article about Gordon Lightfoot at Mythville, was a kind of honest assessment of how I managed to tame my Facebook feeds: "A lot of people are posting about how they get nasty comments on Facebook, mostly due to their political views. But I weeded these people out years ago by unfriending anyone writing angry words in caps. My friends are mostly poets and humanists, teachers, professors and publishing people. Back in those days of political flaming on Facebook it was like shooting ducks in a barrel. Now, I kind of miss the action. Of course, there are members of my family who refuse to friend me. I'm the crazy poor liberal living in the woods." The bottom line:  You want the love? Then be unabashedly personal.

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