December 8th, 2010 / 4:02 pm

False Dichotomies Are Not Honorable

1. Money and art are not mutually exclusive.

2. The issue of a piece of writing’s power as art is a separate issue from the question of whether the piece of writing was published by a large commercial press or a small not-for-profit press.

3. When large commercial presses invest in new literature, despite the market pressures which discourage investment in new literature, those presses should be embraced and supported by the community of readers which also embraces and supports the small presses who invest in new literature.

4. If a work of literature or the person who made it becomes successful in externally validating manners that transcend the small circle of serious readers that constituted the original audience because the work was promoted by the high-powered machinery that can attend to a book released by a large commercial publisher, that work of literature and that writer ought to be congratulated and their worldly success applauded by the small circle of readers that constituted the original audience.

5. Obscurity as a writer is neither inherently honorable nor inherently dishonorable.


  1. Richard Thomas

      Amen, brother.

  2. Summer

      Can you applaud the author while simultaneously decrying the mechanics of power through which she or he achieves success?

  3. deadgod

      It’s hard to argue against the self-satisfaction of calling a star, or any kind of big shot, a ‘sell-out’, or calling newer fans ‘front-runners’.

      Are accumulation and justice mutually exclusive? How much ‘personal’ responsibility does political economy admit of?

      What’s a fair minimum offer for a person’s ‘soul’?

  4. Ken Baumann


  5. Richard Thomas

      Amen, brother.

  6. CourtMerrigan


  7. goner

      1. Money and art are not mutually exclusive.

      Andy Warhol told us this years and years ago.

  8. Tom De Beauchamp

      Where does this notion that money-less-ness and obscurity equal honor come from? I don’t doubt there are many who still say “sell-out” when an indie-author gets drafted, but it doesn’t seem to be that much a part of the indie v major publishing debate.

      As this list alludes to, the debate is more often around the majors tending toward particular narratives and styles. Because of their size and number, their agility, and the fact that they tend to be run for love or purpose rather than strict dollars, small and independent presses have greater freedom to publish conscientiously.

      At least that’s the story.

      Maybe the threat perceived is that if the majors start buying up all the indie authors, they’ll start making demands on them. They’ll start smearing their styles, mashing them into a single commodity. There are valid complaints about the work published by the big houses. What if they force our beloved indie writers to write like that?

      Or, The fear could be that, if the indie-authors get bought up, there won’t be any indie left. It’ll be a ghost town.

      Probably not. The market domination enjoyed by the major houses is irritating though, even if they publish many of my favorite books. If you have a real hate relationship with that domination, it must be hard to see your favorite author make the switch. Like seeing your big brother start to vote republican.

  9. jesusangelgarcia

      Stop making so much sense, Kyle. Seriously. What is this? Balanced perspective? Crazy man.

  10. Pizza

      fuck that art market speculator!

  11. Mike Meginnis

      I agree. And not just because I want to get rich. (Though I do.)

      As I told my students last week, the only real problem with selling out is they haven’t got anything to sell. I would totally sell out. And then, in my lunar villa, continue writing whatever I wanted.

  12. mjm

      ha. lunar villa.

  13. Dawn.

      Yes yes yes yes yes. Thank you.