Writing in the Present, Tensely

Two of my favorite writers published great pieces about their difficulties being great writers in a time not conducive to great writing

Jim Knipfel should not be on Facebook. He should be in a nearly empty bar, with afternoon sunlight streaming onto his back and a pint in front of him. He is made for neither modern media or being social. And yet, he popped up on my Facebook feed last week.

He tells the story better than I can. The upshot is he’s going to remind everybody following him when he has a new Slackjaw column up on Electron Press and I’m going to repost that every week. No likes so far, though. Fucking philistines.

Mark Ames, formerly of the late and lamented eXile and currently of the mostly OK Pando Daily (they focus on tech news, which isn’t something I’m all that interested in), posted a screed about how social media and the internet hive mind’s outrage engine is choking out satire. Overall, it’s a remarkably smart argument that comes from a weird direction and presses on a painful truth, all of which is expected from Ames’ writing. But his sadness at trading in his snarling satire for straight journalism stuck with me.

None of this is very funny—having to set the record straight on satire—not funny now, anyway. Might be funny in a few years or decades, if we live that long. But not now. Then again, I’m not very funny these days either, not since getting tossed out of Russia. 21st Century America, it turns out, ranks as one of the most un-funny paradigms to be stuck in since the Bronze Age.

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