Dogs Dream of Dogs

I just finished re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, though the last time I read it was 20+ years ago, so there wasn’t much “re-“ in the re-reading. I remembered Dick finding out Abe North died, and I remembered the “crazy” passages that were supposed to be Nicole’s stream-of consciousness… and then I was stunned to discover, on the last page, that Dick’s exile to the U.S. included a long stay in Lockport, of all places. I’m fairly sure I didn’t even know where Lockport was 20+ years ago, and now I live here. So. The page after the book’s ending, the author bio page, indicated that Fitzgerald earned enough writing that he not only lived well, but lived very well, traipsing around Europe, following the moveable feast around. The idea that one could make a living at all as a novelist, as any kind of artist, always gives me a twinge—I’m jealous, because I have had to work at other things all my life on order to have the time and space to make art. Then the feeling fades, quickly, as I realize how necessary all that other work is to me as an artist and human being, and how liberating it is to that I don’t have to sell a story or poem to be able to eat. I suppose being independently wealthy, living off the “interest of my interest,” would offer more time for creative work, but perhaps not, and in any case, such a life is far too alien to my experience for me to adequately speculate on.

The question of whether art should profit the artist enough to survive, and how that might happen, and the compromises such production would inevitably involve, is an old one, of course, and a recent article by Scott Timberg on Salon.com seems to suggest that there was, very recently, a whole set of answers to this question that failed to bear fruit. Apparently, the internet was supposed to usher in a new Creative Class… I vaguely remember folks announcing this new order was imminent, that artists and folks who worked with ideas would have the ability, unmatched in human history, to make a living from their art and ideas. Distribution would be more fluid, less capital would go to large concerns, galleries, and so forth—I remember people like David Brooks and Richard Florida announcing this new world because I knew it was a pile of shit, and because I was surprised, despite myself, that people were buying it. Anyhow, the Timberg article is pretty thin, and the discussion that follows has the usual blog comment mix of good points, bad points, null points, and blabber (mostly blabber), but it is interesting to think about why so many apparently smart people keep getting caught up in these fantasies, what sort of wish-fulfillment is operating, and on how the people that foist these fantasies do, in fact, make a living foisting them. In a way, it’s another speculative bubble, an idea bubble that has collapsed for many people, just like economic bubbles do. It’s probably better to keep your earnings out of these kinds of markets altogether.

CDs: 500) Style Council Box Set. The design is as, well, stylish as one would expect, and there are a slew of great songs here; the only thing that mars many of them is Paul Weller’s lyrical lapses, far too many of the words here are simply trite. So, I try to pretend he’s singing in Bengali at certain points, and just enjoy the melodies and eurotrash groove. Works quite well with Tender is the Night, actually.