Just Another Innocent Pig

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day: One man’s dog is another woman’s pig – I get that.  (Disciple Manning)

Was up all night drinking, playing ping-pong and playstation hockey – I have that feeling of random circuits sparking. Some hilarious comments on my last post, so I thought I’d post this as a kind of communal reply.

I really wish I had thought of something devilish t0 say to that professor of yore, but I was literally stupefied. Growing up I was the goofy kid who was easy to bully and tease because I wanted everyone to like me. (Luckily, I was also a strapping farm boy who had taken his father’s advice – “Punch them in the nose if they start giving you lip” – to heart). Bushwhacked (these are the entendres that burn me) is too friendly a word to describe the shock I felt. I slunk away like a wounded teenager. Maybe I should have punched her in the nose!

I know some people will be offended by Disciple. And I know some people will scratch their heads wondering what the big whup is. Write long enough, and you come to realize that there’s literally no end to the kinds of reactions you get. The people who ‘get you,’ you end up prizing, and you think, Thank god someone has a brain out there! The people who don’t, you end up resenting, and you think, What’s up with all these assholes! Even Goodkind feels this way, I wager. He probably hires people to feel this way with him.

So in a sense, what I’m moaning about is simply the cost of doing business as a writer, and I really should just shut up and be thankful that these people are buying my books, despite thinking I’m a sexist.

But you also learn, if you write long enough, that the book is simply a long-winded salvo in a much larger discursive exchange. It lives a reputational life all its own in the cultural aether.

I have a keen appreciation for the power of priming. Reading consists of stamping clarity onto ambiguity, and what that clarity will be depends heavily on one’s assumptions going in. Most people, I think, look at reading as if it were a kind of archaeology, an uncovering of discrete, semantic artifacts. But the fact is what you uncover varies wildly according to the caprice of things like social proof bias. This is why it’s so easy to punk the publishing gatekeepers – agents and editors – by sending them chapters pilfered from literary masterpieces. Anonymize those chapters, strip them of the associational cloud of values that positions them within our culture, and even professionals will miss their ‘genius.’ Why? Because we use conspiracies of tacit agreement to tell us how to dig in the right way when we read. All the time. Unconsciously.

I really don’t make arguements like the one from yesterday to convince people, though if that happens, then so much the better. I literally look at it as a way to piss in the soup, not so much to control the frame of interpretation and debate as to problematize it, and maybe to dull a few of those knives I can hear being sharpened over there on the Westeros board!

Yesterday was an exercise in spin doctoring… plain and simple.

There’s this feeling I get in the weeks prior to a book’s release. Month’s prior, it’s almost as if I construct this sham confidence about the book, its strengths, its audience, how it will be received. The closer the pub dates comes, the more this confidence evaporates, the more I remember just how random it all seems. You remember the way publication, even as it gets your name spinning on the cultural merry-go-round, amounts to a strange kind of demotion, how you cease being the all-powerful Creator and become simply another interpreter.

The book is strong. The book is inventive. The book is deliciously perverse. All these become I think the book is strong. I think the book is inventive. I think the book is deviously deceptive.

And you realize that the vast majority of people who read it don’t really give a flying fuck what you think. They’ll make up their own damn mind.

And call you a sexist, without qualification, because they forget that their reading is as much a reflection of their own biases and bigotries as my own.