"I'd have stopped writing years ago if it were for the money." --Paulo Coelho Link To Blog Archive here.
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: The Hazards Of Fads And Fashions
It is unpleasant to contemplate the idea that whatever becomes fashionable greatly influences our biases, even if we claim it doesn’t. We especially don’t like to admit this about those interests that are dear to our hearts. Unfortunately, this unacknowledged influence can have deleterious effects.
Man Friday links here: http://kenstange.com/yourmanfriday/?p=1659
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: The Second Print Revolution
The world was revolutionized in the Fifteenth Century when Johannes Gutenberg invented printing. Words and images no longer had to be laboriously reproduced by hand. Although initially this had to be done by extremely expensive printers, now millions of people have very affordable, personal desktop printers. Then in 1986 Chuck Hull invented a printer that could reproduce more than mere 2-D images. These 3-D printers have started a second print revolution, and already relatively inexpensive ones are living with their parents on people’s desktops.
Man Friday links here: http://kenstange.com/yourmanfriday/?p=1662
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The idea that “money is the root of all evil” is oft repeated, so why then do most people spend their lives pursuing it? Of course, nothing is the root of all evil. And as for major causes of evil, there are more likely suspects, such as ideology and religion. What is important about money is how it is spent.
Man Friday links here: http://kenstange.com/yourmanfriday/?p=1674
Back On My Soapbox
I’m back on my soapbox.
Blogs really are the contemporary equivalent of soapboxes: platforms for free expression. The term comes from the Nineteenth Century when speakers would stand on wooden crates (originally used for the shipment of soap) in the “Speakers Corner” of Hyde Park, London, where they could safely exercise their freedom of expression.
Then, as now with blogs, their audience was often small. Then, as now with blogs, the small audience size was because what was being expressed was only of interest to a specific group or too often downright crazy.
The huge advantage the blog has over the physical soapbox is the greater access available to anyone interested in what is being said. Of course this does mean that some crazy ideas get wider circulation and a larger, enthusiastic audience. Search some lunatic belief on Google to see what I mean; e.g., “reptilian aliens" among us (768,000 results) or “homeopathic remedy” for anything that might ail you (6,130,000 results).
But that is a price well worth paying for freedom of expression. And I hope I’m not one of those bloggers expressing lunatic ideas.
The Poet’s Soapbox
Another public forum for expression of what interests few people (albeit too few in my opinion) is the literary reading. Considering how few people now read poetry, there are a surprising number of regular poetry readings.
The audiences are certainly small. Poets swap stories about doing readings where the number of people in the audience can be counted on one hand. I can easily trump all of their tales of woe. Some years ago I was invited to read at Ontario Place in one of their outdoor band shells. I arrived to find a stage equipped with a fancy mike, a powerful amp, and huge speakers. As the scheduled time to begin approached, I waited for the crowds to come pouring over the hill to hear me. But I soon grew apprehensive; I’d had enough previous experience giving poetry readings. When it was the time for me to begin, no crowds had appeared. I can say, however, that I did have a fair size audience, for a flock of seagulls settled in on the hill facing the stage. And they seemed reasonably attentive.
This story has a happy ending. The next act was a rock band. When they showed up, I told them my tale of woe. They’d had experience with small audiences too and were quite sympathetic. They made a generous suggestion, which I most gratefully accepted. They powered up the amp system and started playing. Music, any music, attracts people, and soon a substantial number of bodies were sprawled out on the grassy hill facing the bandstand. They gave me my cue, and I walked up to the mike.
We’d arranged some hand gestures I could use to signal cadence changes and pauses, such as stanza or line breaks. The band warmed up the audience with a cool introductory riff, and then I began reading. They weren’t jazz musicians, but they definitely knew how to improvise on the spot, and they did a fantastic job of giving my poetry a rich musical context.
I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember the name of the band, but I sincerely hope they eventually attracted audiences so huge that they played at Toronto’s The Air Canada Centre or Massey Hall. Me, I remain grateful if my audience isn’t totally avian.
The Conspiracy of 3
My city of North Bay is home to one of the longest surviving literary readings series in Canada. It is called The Conspiracy of 3, because of its format of three approximately 20-minute sets. Usually the first two sets are devoted to two different writers, and the third set is an open mike set where anyone can show up with a short piece to test on the audience. To be one of the two featured readers, a serious writer need only make a request and is then scheduled in whenever possible.
The conspiring has been occurring for over three decades on the second Tuesday evening of every month—virtually without a single cancellation. Naturally the audience continually and gradually changes and the readings have been held in a variety of venues—usually licensed to serve drinks.
Sometimes the first two sets are reserved for an invited guest writer. The last reading was about a week ago, and the guest was Bruce Meyer, a renowned Canadian writer who came up from Barrie to read. He was a great presenter of his own work—which, alas, isn’t always the case with writers. He even punctuated his poetry with entertaining anecdotes.
He read from his most recent book, Testing the Elements published by Exile Press. Here is a video of Bruce reading from that work.
So for those in North Bay at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of any month, the conspiring is currently being hosted by White Water Gallery at 122 Main St. W. And to be put on the group’s monthly mailing list of upcoming readings, email Doyali Islam.
Fools On Stools
The fools on stools are five members (including yours truly) of The Writers’ Union of Canada’s local chapter, NOLL. This coming Saturday afternoon they will take turns reading brief samples from their works while plopped on stools at the stage of La Tea Da Café and Gallery in the small community of Rutherglen, located 35 kilometers east of North Bay. It’s very informal. There will be a cash bar and people are welcome to drift in and out.
Your Man Friday’s Ideas: Get Real!
Many people wish art would get real again. It is true that one—but just one—function of paintings until the invention of photography was the realistic depiction of people, places, and events. When photography made that easier, artists focused more on other concerns than how much their work resembled what you would see in a photograph. Yet many people seem insensitive to anything other than ‘realism’, and express their appreciation by admiring the difficulty, special skills and time required to accomplish realism in a painting or sculpture. Of course, aesthetic judgments shouldn’t be solely based on that, but those factors can still be appreciated if the work has more value than simple ‘realism’. Here are some beautiful examples of just that.
Man Friday links here: http://kenstange.com/yourmanfriday/?p=1680
Checking Out Again
It’s again time to go back to working fulltime on book projects. For one thing, I’m hoping to see my book, Explaining Canada: A Primer For Yanks scheduled for publication next month.