Monday, October 6, 2008

After weeks of sounding important...

I finally feel "normal." Yes, I was derailed by myself for a moment there. Business is calm now, considering we have a future of poverty to look forward to, but business is also pleasure, because I am in the business of being myself. Constantly at odds when asked "what do you do?" I finally realized last week while in Los Angeles for Imprint Culture Lab that the problem isn't that there isn't a sufficient word for my work. The problem is that I care what my work is called.

I blame capitalism (and I think this mundane blamership is clear indication that I'm back to feeling normal, actually.)
Capitalism is a strange thing. Certainly when you freelance, or work in the ephemeral state of "marketing" like I sometimes do. Because you see, marketers are nothing if not self-referential. We quote Rushkoff, Walker, Gladwell. We make fun of our other marketers. We don't see any contradiction in "selling the noose with which to hang capitalism" (Trotsky). This is the sole and mind-numbing onus of our responsibility -- self-reference. Self-reference. Self-reference.

What do I mean.

Marketing is fueled by the work of idea-men. This work cannot be accomplished without convincing idea-men to sell their ideas wholesale, to others. We are recruited by the conviction that we are "special," "on it," "plugged in," "hot," "deserving of more." Because the reality is that we're doing precious little good. Then, your ideas are borrowed from, reconstituted, sometimes rejected. In the midst of building for others, our personal identities become powerful antidotes, artisinal artifact, precious secret, a safe place we call home, whatever. And whenever the identity is compromised (i.e. every single day), it hurts. You protect your identity even more. Repeat.

But you wouldn't have cared what happened to your identity if no one noticed you in the first place.

This is what I mean by self-reference.

I thought it was just me, but in talking to several people, there is a consensus; that unless we are producing a tactile experience or being paid butt loads, our egos will never be fulfilled.

One friend recommends taking up skill-based hobbies for the disenchanted marketer to counter his or her malaise. Another reminds himself everyday he could be shoveling manure for a living and that would be much worse. But here's the kicker: everyone agrees to either one or the other of the following statements.

Your work will be meaningless if its not authenticated by your life.
Your life will be meaningless if you buy the b.s. you're selling.

What if my work is selling my b.s. life?


Michelle said...

Somebody call the wah-mbulance... It could be worse, you could be a glorified "Comic Book Guy". That's what my "career" has been labeled as. next time he's in the store, I should see if Matt Groening thinks that's me too.

ill iterate said...

Dude you're way hotter than comic book guy, though i like comic book guy, personally. if he cut his ponytail i'd be golden.

dorien said...

I checked out that Imprint website. your mug is killing me. and whoa hiroshi!

anyway ive nothing productive to contribute other than we gotta hang out soon dude wtfbbq!

Deborah said...

Someone wanted to know why I was in a writer's group. "I translate," i said. (after a pause) "Oh I see, you're like a ghostwriter," was the satisfied response (there WAS an answer.) I think "comic book guy" is not so bad.

Deborah said...

That's it, Anne! The way out of poverty is to get you some slick "bromides" like the rest of the Imprint conference people!Just put on a hat and look out into space. There ya go!