Today, it seems that any discussion could devolve into an argument on politics. Which is the ‘right’ side? Which is the side that leads to the ruin of human rights? Which is the form of government that is ideal for human beings to thrive? I read through those discussions when I see them in the comments under newspaper articles that I read online but… I don’t understand. What does ‘left-wing’ mean? What does ‘right-wing’ mean? Then there are the terms that people used, ‘socialism’, ‘fascism’, ‘democracy’ and ‘communism’. I don’t understand even though I continue to look them up in dictionaries, read articles and self-help guides on the subject including wikipedia and I studied Sociology in school but those terms and meanings never stick in my head.
Why did I bring up this topic? For our first class in Libraries and Publishing in an Information Society, we discussed the essay “Author as Producer” by Walter Benjamin. In it he brings up the point that writers either write for the entertainment for the masses or write to push the agenda of a particular class of people, ‘the proletariat’ he wrote in his essay. Politics then can play a part in writing. Considering that this essay was written in 1934 practically on the eve of World War II in Germany, it is natural that writing may have a political bent. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to understand.
It is not fair that I have turned this blog post into a complaint on the complexity of politics so I will change the topic.
“A writer that does not teach other writers teaches nobody. The crucial point, therefore is that a writer’s production must have the character of a model: it must be able to instruct other writers in their production and, secondly, it must be able to place an improved apparatus at their disposal. This apparatus will be the better, the more consumers it brings in contact with the production process – in short the more readers and spectators it turns into collaborators.”
The core point of the essay was that authors themselves are producers especially in the case of adapting new technologies to get your points across to a wider audience. The above quote from Walter Benjamin’s essay made me think of the phenomenon of self-publishing or independent publishing. I am a voracious reader. In fact , when it comes to reading, no-one in my school days or in my family could come close to matching me. So I am always coming across new authors. One of my favourites in the independent scene, is the author, Lindsay Buroker. Her most popular series is the Emperor’s Edge series. This is described as a steampunk adventure series mostly. The part that I find most interesting though is the blog that she runs. It includes self-publishing tips, marketing strategies and writing guides. Even though I am not a writer and don’t intend to be, I still read her entries whenever they come out. The process of writing and publishing is fascinating to me when she writes about it.