Sunday, October 23, 2011
Maybe I’ve crossed some wrong rivers
Thinking about the future of the publishing industry today, with my guilty post of last week about my pirated music. I’d like to draw a line between myself and those who download music wholesale off the internet, but am I any better? Almost all of my music comes from actual CDs, uploaded to my database. So the artist was paid for the music. How is it any different than the books (real pieces of paper, bound together with glue) that my friends and I trade among ourselves?
The seed of this post was written two weeks ago before I realized, in vivid detail, the difference. The difference is that they all can be lost in one fell swoop, in a sweeping fleeting moment. I keep thinking about the burning of the library of Alexandria, although such a comparison may be melodramatic. I’m sure it is. But that’s how it feels at some cosmic level. I had dreams of apocalyptic fungi, white cosmic snot, wrapping the sides of my face.
I can’t help but believe that all of this destruction is karma, is my fault for not spending enough money on artists, for singing the praises of digital archives. There’s something clinical about my inherent theology that whenever something bad happens, it’s God punishing me for something I did wrong. I believe, at some level, that I haven’t cast off enough, I haven’t stripped myself bare to the bone enough. After eight months here, I’m still living off the contents of one suitcase and a carry-on. One pair of jeans, two tee-shirts. My glasses are broken.
I’ve stripped away almost everything of financial value in my attempt to live authentically, whatever the hell that means. What’s the one thing I still prize? I still rely on? I still shuffle through cold gray short days? My music.
My library connects me to everyone I love: my brother and sister, my brother- and sister-in-laws and their brothers and wives, friends from my past, from college, from the boat, from Chattanooga. I share music, yes, but I also buy music: new, from bn.com, Bob Dylan’s most recent album as a gift for my sister; used from my local CD store in Tennessee, McKay’s, Dar Williams’s debut. Do the artists get enough for that? Are they making a living? Because the writers aren’t doing so hot.