403: “Meant For Publication” (Oscar Wilde)

                “[My diary] is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication.” -Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

                My friend John Moist runs UIUC’s GradLIFE podcast. Lots of my students are interested in podcasts, so I invited John to visit a class. We talked about podcasts, microphones, sound equalization. Along the way we talked about art and capitalism. John’s a musician and a podcast nerd (though not, I would argue, a podcast bro), but he didn’t try to start his own podcast. He was fortunate enough to get hired making a podcast that someone else wanted. Our class ended by reflecting on that as one example of art interacting with capitalism, of “an artist” finding a way to make “a living.”
                 Conversations don’t stop when the metaphorical bell rings. John and I walked back toward our next meetings together, and along the way he told me about a friend of his who’s been asking, “Why don’t you try to make it as a musician? That’s what you do all the time.” John isn’t trying to “make it as a musician” because that’s what he does all the time. As capitalism and a hustle culture tries to claw its way into everything, John’s building walls around music, around soundscapes and wandering into them with his friends who are not his employers (or his “listeners,” a different relationship capitalism might suggest). We ended up talking about creating different spaces, not just “here’s where I make money” and “here’s where I turn the sound up for me,” but all sorts of spaces. Next week I’m starting a tabletop game, which will be a space for a specific community in Urbana-Champaign. Sometimes I paint with some friends — another space for another community. My creative writing training taught me that more viewers was always better, that (as John joked) “eyeballs = worth,” but I want to luxuriate in all these nested spaces, in the moments I step into them and out of them, in the very different things they’re trying to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s