All writers Are readers – publishing is not writing.

Future Nature Nurture (Post Pandemic Poem by me from May 2021)

Welcome again to my little wholly independent corner of the writing, and therefore reading, world.

On this really sunny day here in Ireland, I re-read this illuminating interview with the amazing Margaret Randall and was compelled to share it with friends, readers, fellow writers, website visitors and (later) students.

In my view, the print books business here in Ireland often short-changes many of it’s customers or ‘real life readers‘ by really pushing and promoting that whole ’emerging’ and ‘up and coming’ writers paradigm, it feels like it may often be more about securing and promoting contracted (owned) talent than actually curating careers or offering genuine diversity to a reading public.

Current commercial strategies also sell these fixed agendas within an industry of cultural gatekeepers to the aspirants facing the very barriers to entry that industry erected. As I write here often, (or did for 20 years before the site got spammed out of existence) the book publishing and distribution industry is simply not ‘the writing life’ it is only (with a few rare and valuable exceptions) about commerce, money, and profit.

Margaret’s recently released Memoir I read.

I don’t want to offer spoilers here to Margaret’s interview so the links here should be enough for now, suffice to say I will be including some of Margaret’s work in my up and coming playshop sessions and I will be asking participants to read this interview as part of our discussions around memoir and technology, and the contemporary writer’s online life.

Stuffafizing should be up and running soon.. thanks to those who have already signed up.

“My word” #blibloading ; joy for twitter wreaders and not the usual social media epistles at dawn.

I created the hashtag and neologism ‘#blibloading’. There was no word to describe the act of downloading other people’s pictures of their books, allowing for checking them out and deciding whether any of them are must reads.

Perhaps only writers or true bibliophiles will understand that urge, (or sentence) and ‘my word’ blibloading could itself not be invented before 1996 prior to the www. Yes the phenomena of @bookshelfporn obviously exists but that’s a lot more impersonal and concerns a lusty aesthetics for book filled shelves, rather than a singularly gawking online snapshot into other people’s photographed reading or book buying habits.

‘My word’ was always a gentle expression of surprise I associated with English upper and middle class friends.

Not that I actually have any.

The word on the interwebs was that it promised improvements in information and communication democratization, long and longer tails of niche pursuits and some heretofore sharing of interests, however obscure, as not merely possible but crucial for ‘a web based newer form of communication’.

The early friendlier net already did remediated letters, scrolls, epistles, notes, memos, etc, in various electronic formats via listservs, bulletin boards, etc, but social media platforms of today better facilitate speedy synchronous exchange either night or day, or yes, even at dawn for that matter..  but only if we embrace such new purposes and altered uses.

Yes questions arise; If you can’t judge a book by its cover could you judge it by a social media account or a couple of its tweets ? Traditional or mainstream interests have swamped social media such that much of its true human value potential appears lost in impure pursuits of profit and profile. I mostly use social media to connect with writers and coders, artists, etc whom I want to learn from or more about. After an initial flourish I culled my FB connections down from 4K to 1K or so, I’ve kept my linkedin at around 1.5K but as @cleverelt I follow almost 4K people on twitter and will probably continue to follow more as I encounter them. I don’t use any of my social media as marketing tools as I to date have had nothing to market… or promote….

Others certainly do, and like Laurence O’Bryan (@LPOBryan – @SeeNewBooks ) appear to be making a fantastic job of it. However some wonderfully talented writers have come relatively late to these social media parties and as a consequence have had to sit back with small follower numbers while watching other strategy savvy social media makers stride center stage, brand in hand, selling books, raising their profile and the profiles of others, while others stuff schedules and scatter content, garnering and gathering large follower numbers proffering a valuable blend of virtue signalling and semi-soft sell. To them too I sincerely say ‘fair play’.

“We know cream always rises to the top, but sometimes it can curdle before getting there.”

Me (To some writers still waiting in the twitter wings)

Work not promoted by the mainstream publishing houses and their controlled promotional arms may not reach these long tailed parts a friendly personal social media can. Irrespective of their various accounts, money, media, people, and brand guises, most of my own book purchases come from recommendations from fellow writers and friends across social media, those with whom I am (& feel) connected.

I am not sure that it’s still there, but there was a notice backstage in the lyric theatre Belfast that spoke to me about relationships between writers, artists, actors, creators, performers and their supporters and friends:

“Please do not ask for passes for your friends, if they won’t pay to see you….. who will ?”

Lyric Backstage Notice

I recently followed the writer @andrewhankinson over on twitter and bought two of his books which are next up in my reading pile (see the image below). As you do, I flicked through the newly purchased books, basically because Bibliosmia always beats unboxing . Unlike flicking through older shelved books which may hold earlier secretly stashed cash from another era (We wish).

July / August To be read short pile..

In some senses blibloading is Twitter meeting Tsundoku I suppose, but serendipity and synchronicity are wonderful aspects of modern creative life. For someone like me who has spent much time and energy with technology and creativity mostly framed formally, theoretically, academically, or seen through some sort of pristine professional practice lens, in a pandemic world, honest human connection and the hairy edges of existence blend better into authenticity when the elements of luck or chance intrude.

I have been working on a couple of commissions lately and I am looking forward to writing about those and other activities. Like so many others I lost someone close to me during the Covid 19 pandemic, and normal service has simply not been resumed, I doubt it ever will. I want to write something about the incredible connections between two of the books above in the respective images of six covers and the seven in a pile, I will do that if I ever get the time to.

Finally do feel free to comment, I get lots of comments, mostly Spam, which now has it’s own uses for me, but I do enjoy genuine comments.

as they increase, once they hit the hundred+ (spam) comments, it’s time for me to write another public post..

I’d like to thank those of you who have kindly already signed up to my (ir)regular newsletter that’s about all sorts of stuff…. It is something that I am finally getting around to working on alongside all the other abnormal creative stuff, I’ve called the newsletter:

Stuffafizing

https://clevercelt.substack.com/p/coming-soon?

 

Documentary Review: The Road to Vrindavan

Entertaining while ‘engendering’ a vital debate about education.

The time limited link to watch this documentary is here:

Previous portrayals of the poor, street, and slum, life of places like Bombay as depicted in Shantaram, the 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, and perhaps like the novel itself, first appeared as an illuminating western perspective until it became quite obviously incredulous and lacking genuine context, even for fiction. The welfare of India’s poorest young girls is a topic the west and east have little discussed but still mostly disagreed upon.

This was most notable perhaps when the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens published his book “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice” in which Hitch criticized her efforts to alleviate the suffering of Calcutta’s poor and claimed, outside his assessment of her character, that those efforts since based in religious dogma and motives, ensured that the wretched situation there was actually compounded by such interference. Hitch went on to explain that the one thing that has positively changed life outcomes for poor young women is ensuring that they have sovereignty over their own bodies. The long and arduous route to that societal shift in the subcontinent of India must obviously traverse education.

A snatched still from a single moment of the journey in the documentary.

The Road to Vrindavan begins with its creator Ravi Chambers understanding that immersing himself in even the planning of the central arduous journey at the centre of the film may somehow echo his previous unintended exclusion of those most dear and closest to him, as he acknowledges the effects on others of his other journey to Vrindavan as a Hare Krsna monk twenty years previously.

Jeff Gomez has in recent years articulated the shift from Campbell’s heroic journey to concepts around shared storytelling, the collaborative creation of story universes to inclusive, transmedia, and an expansive equality inspired ‘collective journey’ this very personal documentary film by necessity requires a sort of simpler immersion in the individual threads of our collective imagination.

Interviewees along Ravi’s fund raising and fact finding journey introduce terms like ‘significant importance’ and ‘authentic’ with respect to Indian Culture, Indian Tradition, and the defined roles assigned to men and women in their society. Ravi conducts his interviews with a forthright sensitivity and perhaps because of the subject matter, the obvious emotional, intellectual, physical, and maybe spiritual investments he’s making in this documentary this ensures it becomes a rich tapestry of all these elements, from the natural splendour of the countryside to the sprawling human hubbub of various urban spaces, to fresh faces of young girls each of whom has her own individual special story, the vibrancy of colour, the texture of personality and ultimately the exploration of possibility.

Just as with the ideas within it, the film itself expands its intellectual, theoretical, and ultimately sociological breath to broaden the question beyond simply the education of young girls, it does so without ever resorting to becoming academic or abstract, issues with inheriting the wisdom within tradition, societal evolution without inherently damaged historicity swamping progress, become developing backdrops to the imperative questioning at the centre of the documentary.

Here I must confess my personal connection to this story as I am a long time family friend of Ravi’s parents, but this story while about cultural, societal, gender, community, and broader questions, is ultimately about these personal stories, and the relationships between them, it is about men and women, parents and their children, what is acceptable to us as individuals and as parts of our communities, what are our responsibilities to each?

The Road to Vrindavan is a timely and very well produced reminder about individual and collective bravery, gender roles, rights, and gender sensitization at a time when violence against women is on the National agenda in India. Unlike that book Shantaram, the truth and authenticity of ‘The Road to Vrindavan’ increase as the documentary itself evolves, ‘be inspired films’ has delivered a film really worth watching and certainly a documentary very much worth discussing. Go watch it and Enjoy…

Double Digit Trouble (1st Draft)

Happy New Year, bye bye double digit 2020…
Edited Version..

Two fingers to this year 2020
When my loving mother passed
And all that economic talk of plenty
was exposed as rich men’s lies at last
our fifth world war, after drugs and terrorism,
became a virus of normal people’s frontline heroism
politicians proved their lack of worth, dumb death 
of wisdom
disinformed, cerebral malnutrition from a spin filled 
kingdom
we the people look to each other and our burning 
earth around us
that us, this we, these common people, locked down, 
look up only to see
that double digit trouble becomes our starting price
of being frank and free
fingered fear and trepidation visited upon each nation
as a global planning spree
of dumbing down, rising prices, complex processes 
reducing critical capacity
inconvenient truths dismissed, slandered silenced 
theories of silly conspiracy 
don’t fall for them vote for me, vote, vote often, 
believe you have a voice, a choice
between the corporations and my mini me, 
the nanny state supported on all fours
by those who set the ceilings and the floors, of wealth,
access, and growing successful fear
that keeps you near, believing friends or enemies 
among their economic rubble
but when you burst that bubble, 
only then begins their real double digit trouble

I am starting to write a regular newsletter which is (hard to believe I know) more opinionated, considers more topics than presented here, in hopefully more detail with additional links of interest and references, that is if enough people sign up to it.. its about all sorts of stuff.. so I’ve called it:

Stuffafizing

https://clevercelt.substack.com/p/coming-soon?

Write away right away………… My 21+ thoughts on writing in 2021 Ireland.

Disclaimer: Beware all proclaimed experts and advisers, like the three arriving above,
rumored to be Irish government advisers developing arts council policies.

If you want to make money writing, then write computer code.

If you wish to explore your humanity write poetry.

If you’d like to network in the writing world write short stories.

If you really want to destroy your writing soul, why not try crafting literary essays.

If you want to seek specific career advancement write academic material.

If you want to pursue your dreams write print novels.

If you want to connect, write journalism.

If you want to make enemies write reviews.

If you want to make films write screenplays.

If you want to make lingering mistakes write spiritual literature.

If you enjoy emotional purgatory write brand communications.

If you want to tackle social or societal issues write plays.

If you want to be helpful write manuals.

If you want to be accommodating write invited articles.

If you want to waste your valuable time and energy write a blog.

If you want to be depressed write comedy.

If you want to go into deep financial debt write computer games.

If you subconsciously crave creative obscurity write digital literature.

If you want to create value write business plans.

If you want to be a writer, read everyone and anyone who calls themselves a writer.

If you really want to be a writer, write anywhere, on anything, anytime.

If you want to be an original writer prepare for poverty.

If you want to be a popular writer befriend other writers, particularly those you don’t like.

If you want to be a truthful writer live freely inside and outside your writing.

If you want to be a successful writer, write, write a lot, and then get an agent.

If you knew you wanted to be a writer aged 12 years old start saving ‘therapy money‘.

If you regard writing as an art rather than a craft buy a paintbrush.

If secluded daily writing excites you, try writing curricula.

If you really want to be ‘just a writer’ then write away right away.

If you’ve read down this far, you’ve reached point 30 and already know you know but were just checking in.. just in case…

I am starting to write a regular newsletter which is (hard to believe I know) more opinionated, considers more topics than presented here, in hopefully more detail with additional links of interest and references, that is if enough people sign up to it.. its about all sorts of stuff.. so I’ve called it:

Stuffafizing

https://clevercelt.substack.com/p/coming-soon?

Nobody Knows Anything ? Imagine that ‘homo humbleless..

William Goldman famously informed Hollywood of this fact in his autobiographical guide to the movie business “Adventures in the Screen Trade“. Every writer is aware of that fact even if it serves only as an emotional rejection safety net. Scientists know this also…

First line Quote from Bantam Books edition 1988..

which is perhaps why there is such emphasis on reproducibility of results when it comes to theories, theorems, where proofs are essential for truth. The need to know is the need to have proof. I have proven, on many occasions that knowing a lot, however large that specific lot may initially seem to some, even relative to other smaller lots, is still infinitesimal if not entirely negligible when compared to what might be known. This being just one true reason why I’m often surprised and shocked at the lack of genuine humility shown by ‘homo humbleless’ i.e. certain academics, writers, business people, and artists. Human ego certainly appears to be one of the most destructive and unforgiving forces on our planet, fueled with these little pools of individual knowledge it’s an utter disaster for those unfortunate to encounter them.

“A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing”

Alexander Pope.. An essay on criticism..

As children our imagination and curiosity drive us to discover more about the world, in my own case it was taking all sorts of things apart, making stages, sets, and theaters from cardboard boxes, using such bits and pieces to create shows and epic linoleum kitchen floor performances for the captive audience of two older grandaunts and a very proud mother. When we grow up so many of us lose that ability to openly experiment in a non self aware way. Our society, despite what social media tries to say, does not suffer such fools gladly, and often being foolish is a true route to creative discovery and imagination.

When someone tells us new truths old books contain, that childish sagacity we once possessed can be driven from us by such convention.

‘Imagination is more powerful than knowledge’ is a quote attributed to Einstein, in my own limited view imagination is an under investigated human phenomenon, some years ago I read Anne Balsamo’s Designing Culture: the technological imagination at work, my own wip print book could quite easily be sub tilted / log lined as ‘the technical imagination at play’.

The difficulty with reaching an end with life long formal education, having experienced it’s primary versions reject me in my earlier life, is the actual perceived worth and value of that formal, formalized and institutional variety of education, learning by earning (or paying for) bits of exclusive institutional paper loses it’s sheen and relevance, particularly when so many of it’s corporatized advocates themselves belong to ‘homo humbleless.’

I lost my thinking, writing out loud (Louth) space when my old website was wiped, I am only reviving my mechanism of public meandering and web rumination. I am looking forward to getting back to making some art, digital art and all sorts of stuff I can only imagine.

Thee only Constant: Change.

Bye Bye old me and old my 40K+ views of my top post ‘google to send me back to that educational blackboard’.

Anything really changed in these last twelve or twenty years ?

Losing all those words, hours, days, was compounded further by the loss of so many original images and artworks, coded stuff, etc, I created. I have always been entirely independent thus my work wasn’t really stored anywhere else. That was my choice.

Thankfully the wayback machine did start storing flash data approximately five years after i originally made the clevercelt website (1996). But that site was under constant spam attacks and I rebuilt it (before losing it) at least eight times in those 25+years.

I will continue to search through older retired and replaced hard drives and see if I can find some of that older work of mine. My old website’s creative technology, technological creativity log line preceded the recognition of the role of a ‘creative technologist’, and just as with save and save often, or comment your code, creative basics got lost in those must and should do moments. Taking our own advice is often something overlooked.