virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Waffling

Waffling, by virtualDavis

Waffling, by virtualDavis

Monday morning is Sunday night.

For me.

Which is to say, today… is yesterday.

Sleepless night.

Exhausted by 9:00 p.m. but unable to pull the darkness or the dreams deep enough.

So rested. In bed. For hours. Mind wandering.

To Machu Picchu. My parents journey to Lima tomorrow, and I follow in less than a week with my bride. Ready. Eager.

The reverse of jetlag is jetleap, I think, when the soul leapfrogs ahead of the journey. I’d better start catching up.

Why the waffle photo? I’m not waffling. Not really. But it’s an intriguing snapshot from the weekend to balance the onslaught of Halloween photo booth documentation, n’est-ce pas?

Mindfulness and Flânerie

Just another listless dreamer...

New Yorker marginalia by virtualDavis via Flickr

Linda Hollier’s Mindfulness and The Flâneur examines a topic near and dear to my heart, soul and senses: flânerie.

I’m honored to be mentioned and grateful because she inspired me to update my Metro Flaneur post with a list of my favorite flanerie miscellanea. But ego and overdue “housekeeping” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ms. Hollier (@lindahollier) is positing an insight that intuitively resonates truth to me, but which I’ve never before heard.

Speed, whether online or offline, is a characteristic of the modern world. The flâneur reminds us to set the pace of our own lives.

Cast as a character in the 21st century drama of life, the flâneur thus begins to play the role of consciousness. (here2here)

Amen. The pace and the scope. Flânerie demands an elasticity of time and space. Freedom to meander, to lose oneself in the other, perhaps even to become the other without fully detaching from self. For a while.

Anthropologist Grant McCracken reflection on Joy Walking comes to mind.

It’s a little like joy riding, except we’re not stealing cars, we’re stealing moments. Joy walking happens when we leave the house or office and start walking. We don’t have a plan. We just go… We step in and out of people’s lives. Couples in love, couples at war…  The tiny courtesies and rudenesses of public life… The key is to get out and about. To get away. To see what you can see. Steal a moment. Make it your own. (PsychologyToday.com)

Ms. Hollier’s suggestion that flânerie and conscioussness may overlap is intriguing, an idea worth passing along to my mother who’s a student of Buddhism and a proponent of mindfulness. Let’s see if I can get her to weigh in. Stay tuned.

Off to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses…

Update:

Great news. My mother, Melissa Davis, shared her impression. Thanks, mom! Here’s what the wise lady thinks:

Mindfulness, flaneuring and turtles

Reading this after an abbreviated mindful yoga session with Jon K-Z (on tape), I am delighted to chime in. Linda Hollier’s reference to turtles on leashes reminds me of walking with a 2- or 3-year old, a great flaneur opportunity. I recently grandparented my 3-year old granddaughter for a week which required walking her to preschool and back in Georgetown, a fascinating place where equipment and men with shovels were digging up the ancient trolley tracks. Took us forever – which was as good as it gets – even better than a turtle because she had a couple of feet more within her purview AND she asked questions!

Years ago I read a NYTimes op ed that shared the unscientific findings of a city dweller observing adults accompanying small children around a neighborhood in Manhattan. She reported that the majority of them pushed strollers which ensured timely arrivals wherever the adult was headed. She contrasted them with the handful of adults who walked – meandered – alongside their youngsters, stopping to examine every interesting flower or bit of flotsam along the way. She pointed out that there was nothing more important for a child that age to do than poke along – and through – every curiosity.

I think flaneuring is like drawing, something we are born with but that schedules and school steal from us. I agree that mindfulness – being totally present in the moment – goes hand in hand (or leash) with flaneuring. I am not surprised that so many people wonder if they ate, lose their keys, forget names, obsess about how stressed they are given the mindless speed that propels them through their days. A little daily flaneuring would sort them right out! (Melissa Davis)

Amen! Way to go, mom. Just goes to show that my decision to meander the digital meadow with the mingling masses yesterday restored the cosmic balance, inspiring my mother to opine. Perhaps I should meander the soggy non-digital meadow this afternoon?

Related articles:

Gutenberg, Meet Amazon

Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468)

Johannes Gutenberg (Image via Wikipedia)

If you write or in any other way participate in the world of book publishing you’ll enjoy reading “Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal“. Wait, enjoy is probably the wrong word for what some will feel… Angst, perhaps?

It’s an update on Amazon’s publishing inroads. Major inroads!

Of course, Amazon execs are playing down their recent victories, and they’re dismissing traditional publishers’ doomsday moans and groans.

“It’s always the end of the world,” said Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon’s top executives. “You could set your watch on it arriving.” 

He pointed out, though, that the landscape was in some ways changing for the first time since Gutenberg invented the modern book nearly 600 years ago. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”(NYTimes.com)

Risk and opportunity. Amazon risks pissing off the old guard while gobbling up their lunch. But I, as a storyteller/writer/reader/listener/watcher, the increasingly intimate writer-to-reader relationship that stands to grow stronger, closer and less complicated. Right?

Not so fast, suggest some critics.

Amazon’s publishing program… positions Amazon as agent, editor, and publisher… putting Amazon in direct competition with the world of publishing.(ConsumerReports.org)

And this full frontal assault stands to complicate writers’ situations, at least for a while. Kiana Davenport’s story serves as a warning to writers who try to straddle the opportunity with one foot in traditional publishing and the other in the Amazon world of publishing. I suspect her story is not unique.

Davenport’s infraction was ostensibly innocent enough. While Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin, prepared to launch her novel, The Chinese Soldier’s Daughter, she attempted to beef up her platform by self publishing Cannibal Nights, a collection of twenty year old short stories, as an Amazon ebook. Penguin promptly spanked her by pulling her book deal and demanding that she return her $20,000 advance.

“They’re trying to set an example: If you self-publish and distribute with Amazon, you do so at your own risk,” said Jan Constantine, a lawyer with the Authors Guild who has represented Ms. Davenport.

The writer knows her crime: “Sleeping with the enemy.”(NYTimes.com)

While Amazon is busy rewriting the rules of book publishing the old guard is lashing out, trying to preserve an increasingly unsustainable business model. Time is a reliable resolver of such conflicts, and though we may one day lament certains aspects of the transition, making examples of industrious, self-promoting authors strikes me as a desperate and futile exercise.

As Amazon accelerates it’s challenge to traditional publishing do the opportunities outweigh the risks? Or should self-publishers cower in fear?

I conclude with a thoughtful (but unfortunately unacredited) reflection posted at Instapundit:

Amazon isn’t getting rid of publishers, it’s becoming a publisher. This means the group that controls the distribution also controls the content selection. Not exactly a blow for the Army of Davids in my opinion — when all the publishers are gone, who will publish the books critical of Amazon? Bottom line: It’s not getting rid of middlemen, it’s just muscling them out so it’s the only middleman. It does however reveal that in the age of digital publishing, discoverability and promotion on the digital storefront is the only thing that actually matters. The role of publishers in curation is almost totally abrogated to the sellers. When anyone can publish a book, it’s no longer the publishers that are the gating factor to what we read, it’s the digital storefront. It’s a very interesting shift and definitely good news for Amazon and the like. (Instapundit)

Hat tip to Kathryn Reinhardt for referring the article, “Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal“, to me.

Digital You

“Like it or not, a digital you is out there.”
Lawrence Joseph

Lawrence Joseph’s latter day truism is sandwiched between layers of post-9/11 offal like a slather of mustard or a thin slice of onion, a piquant but ancillary ingredient trying to mask the repugnant meat of the poem.

Digital display 2

Digital display 2 (Image via Wikipedia)

It fails. The poem “So Where Are We?” (Granta, Issue 116) and most of the other sketches and reflections in Granta’s Ten Years Later, edited byJohn Freeman, are deeply disturbing. But that’s the point, I suppose, looking back on a decade that scrambled and irreversably transformed much of the free world.

And yet Joseph’s assertion about digital redundancy clung to me. The notion of digital clones has become ubiquitous. It needs no explanation. It is a contextualizing, familiar point of reference that justifies the grotesque world conjured in this collection.

Like it or not, there’s a digital you out there. In fact almost every aspect of your life is probably reflected in some computer somewhere. You could say that information, that data, has a life of its own. If you have anything to do with modern society, you are no longer a purely biological, analog being. (New York Times)

I’m not altogether uncomfortable with this idea as the name of my blog plainly suggests, but I am fascinated with the implications of this analog/digital duality. I’ve said before that we’re living through a storytelling renaissance. Though we don’t always see it that way (teachers lament ever shortening attention spans for reading and literature; publishing executives panic as books become ebooks become Vooks become…), the proliferation of digital selves and the near universal acceptance of digital identities suggests a convergence of real world and narrative world. We are becoming our stories. Or vice versa.

The one big idea from the original “Tron” that maintained relevance was that some binary version of you is running around out there in all those ones and zeros, to a certain extent under your control but also, in a profound way, forever beyond your reach. Now we can all have multiple identities all the time: just make another user name, and you’re someone else, right? That conceit is not always accurate… (New York Times)

Are you keeping track of your digital selves? Are they still in your story, or have they defected? I’ve seen a few new faces wandering around in my own stories lately after all.

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