Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

High Concept

The technology section of yesterday's Wall Street Journal blared, "How to be a Star in a YouTube World." That's a nice hook -- everyone who does anything online is trying to find the magic combination of factors that makes a website, blog, video series, podcast, etc. find an audience. And therein is the secret -- the hook.

In a world of infinite options, with a text-based search engine to sift through it, popularity (or at least instant popularity) belongs to the describable. You want to rise high in Google merely on the virtue of your content? You'd better have the right keywords that describe exactly what you are, so that someone can read approximately twenty words of text and decide to click. You want to get a buzz going in the social networks? You need to be easily talked about. People don't rave about things they can't describe.

Having a hook is a gift to the clever marketer, and also the doom of subtlty. I have been perpetually frustrated that the most incredibly valuable things fail to get popular, because they don't neatly fit into the mental categories to facilitate easy description. Augie Turak is an incredible spiritual teacher, psychologist, and philosopher . . . and yet he doesn't get nearly as much press as he deserves. Part of it, I'm sure, is that he's complex and subtle, so much so that a market agent wouldn't quite know what shelf to put his book on. He's definitely not New Age . . . but he's not traditional religious "inspirational" either. He's not a Buddhist, although much of his philosophy is described as "Zen." He's not exactly Christian, in spite of his powerful award-winning essay about the monks of Mepkin Abbey. He's a businessman, but his philosophy transcends business. What Google AdWords are you going to buy for that?

More significantly, his is a challenging philosophy, in the literal sense. He gives people headaches. He kicks them in them in the ass. It might be the best kick in the ass you ever get . . . but people don't burble excitedly on MySpace when they get their heads handed to them. Usually they just sulk. He is similar to Kierkegaard in that respect -- tremendous thinker, super-influential, but he didn't make any friends in the Church for the sake of his scathing critiques of the prevailing apathy in so-called spiritual communities.

It also has implications for my own blog, as well. Abandon Text! was literally the first thing that popped into my head. Now that I'm finding some direction and motivation to do an explicitly spiritually-oriented blog, some rebranding is in order. Stay tuned.



Post a Comment

<< Home