Are Blogs the New Pamphlet ?

Orwell Pamphlet
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“Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.” – Mark Twain

Since we live in a day and age where blogs are a booming avenue for aspiring artists of all kinds, a nagging thought has been bothering me. It’s a struggle that’s been sitting in the back burner of my mind for aeons.

Is blogging relinquishing the rights to your own material for the sake of gaining exposure ? Or is it a way to get noticed ?Blogger

It’s got to be a little bit of both. People sacrifice your rights for exposure. There are so many different publications out there that are accepting submissions from freelancers. Most of them are digital. In the olden days, people like Emile Zola, Balzac, and George Orwell would write political and literary pieces for publication and the recognition that would inevitably come with it.J'Accuse - Zola

Anyone with an internet connection can create content and post it online. There’s a difference between knowing how to blog well and knowing how to write stuff and click “publish”. Just because a hopeful blogger has hits, doesn’t mean they’ll turn into a blossoming book publisher. I used to think blogs were just channels for artistic noise, but now I see that without them, countless writers and photographers would go unnoticed. Photojournalism has gotten a huge boost from blogs; it’s an awesome phenomenon. Some of my favorites are Rania Khalek (social justice), Cristian Mihai (writing), and Ma Cuisine et Vous (French food porn).

Writers have the option of forgoing the harrowing publishing process and simply self-publishing via Amazon. Thought Catalog recently started putting out e-books. At $1.99 a pop, it’s no surprise that portable pdf files are a huge revenue booster for high-visibility blogs. They also give freelancers a chance to add a couple lines to their CV. It’s like in the HBO TV show ‘Girls’, when Hannah goes “You guys, I just wrote my first e-book !” (Sidenote : I don’t actually watch that show, I just turned it on when that line was being broadcast.)

Mark Twain’s quote rings true with all the artists hopping in to the blogosphere from every corner of this lonely planet. Before blogs, people wrote for pamphlets. All we can do is roll with the punches and learn how to navigate this complicated, virtual sphere.

What are your thoughts on blogging ? Is it a useful democratic tool, or a sneaky way to steal others’ content ?

I haven’t found…

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I haven’t found a drug yet that can get you anywhere near as high as a sitting at a desk writing, trying to imagine a story no matter how bizarre it is, as much as going out and getting into the weirdness of reality and doing a little time on the Proud Highway. – Hunter S. Thompson

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Back in Loca-motion

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Back in loca-motion.

It’s been months since I’ve blogged. I underwent an invasive operation in Kosovo, touched homebase briefly, and secured a journalism internship in Paris. I’m currently living a blue-collar lifestyle in one of the richest neighborhoods in Paris. I live in the maids quarters of a noble Countess that is so desperate for money that she makes store-brand hotdogs and frozen peas for her tenants.

I pedal a rental bike through the boulevards and wonder at the smoothness of the ride, the rules that drivers follow, the people who reach into their wallets on café terraces with blasé smiles on their faces. This is the first world. Secondly, most people don’t seem to notice all the individual stones that make up the legendary cobblestone streets of one of the most developed cities in the world. The third time’s a charm : she is mature, but she is not fully evolved.

The Parisian lifestyle sounds glamourous, but it is in fact far from it. I find beauty in little things, closing my eyes when I listen to music so as not to look at the crumbling ceiling in my little box of a room. For now, poordom is okay. Being viewed as a heroic American savior in Kosovo this past summer made me realise that I don’t need a lot of purchasing power to be happy. In fact, I was the unhappiest I had ever been in Pristina, regardless of the fact that some of the locals looked at me and smelled wealth and roads paved with gold in their own version of the American dream. Keeping busy to run from reality, staying on track to fill up time, keeping focussed to nail the deadline, isn’t that what we do in the Western world ? The Steely Dan song ‘Here in the Western World’ popped into my head constantly as I fantasised about handsome architecture, a functioning postal system, potable drinking water, and uranium-free air. I saw the slowness of southern Europe as a disability rather than a different choice. After all, it’s all about the choices we make, day in and day out. But the friendliness and the warmth of those people stayed with me, and now I understand the difference between the modern disconnect and the old-age adage that says “Treat your neighbor to biscuits made of gold, you never know when you’ll be cold”. Actually, I just thought that up.

But what’s up with this cliché H-word ? Why are people so obsessed with pursuing it ? I did an epistemological inquiry to figure it out for one of my high school English assignments and investigated the up-and-coming field of positive psychology. This branch of the humanities promotes a positive outlook and shows statistics of human development indices (HDI) in Scandinavian countries, which are the highest in the world due to their government model and other cultural factors that I don’t know (yet). It’s probably got something to do with the fact that they ride their bikes everywhere and eat delicious smoked salmon.

Happiness with a capital ‘H’ is just an ideal. A wise person once told me that contentment comes from the good moments that make up a week. Eating well, listening to good music, seeing art, having sex… each of these moments should be savored so that when looking back on them, you realise the fleeting impermanence of all emotions and situations, whether fortunate, unfortunate, or anywhere else on the gamut. I try to have as many of these good moments as possible, and I appreciate good luck when it comes my way. As for being happy ? That’s a butterfly that still hasn’t landed on my shoulder.

For now, I’d rather be poor in Paris.