Cory Doctorow is a Canadian writer who has campaigned for the freeing up of information on the net. As part of his belief that, to quote Stewart Brand "Information wants to be free" and that much of the intellectual property framework is counterproductive- a bad Business Model- he has allowed net users to read the whole of his latest novel for free, leaving it to them to express their gratitude by, for example, gifting a hard copy to a library or other such institution.
I must admit, that Doctorow's culture- indeed his generation- is utterly exotic to me and that virtually everything he thinks cool strikes me as appalling. Yet his book- 'the Makers'- does not seem a young man's book. It's middle aged. Not just middle aged in the sense of manically fending off self-awareness by treating every contemporary cliche as a mantra- but middle aged in a particularly vile, pot belly rolling over blue jeans, kind of way.
Thirty years ago, grown-ups who talked and thought like teenagers- provided they were nerdy enough to not actually come across as bond salesmen- seemed the Parousia of the Spirit of '68- whose Gospel was don't trust anyone over 30 and, magically, under the pavement you will find the beach.
Now, in 2010, we realize that elderly teenagers can fuck up the world just as effectively as guys in smoking jackets sipping Napoleon brandy out of balloon decanters, or sociopaths in jungle fatigues sipping Napoleon brandy out of balloon decanters while chomping on the finest Cuban cigars hand rolled between the fragrant thighs of lithe limbed virgin Chief Ministers of Bengal .
But, Doctorow (unwittingly?) shows us, these middle aged farts- like middle aged farts through out history- too have built their cathedrals- i.e. fossilized their own turds- to such good effect, that, as with every other ideology through out history, everything of value (for only ideology creates value) is now free, scarcity is over, it is done with- something else must mediate the relationship between man and man- and what that is is a roller coaster ride through that crap, but y'know like a user-directed roller coaster ride? Not that fascist Disney shite but, like a Wiki roller coaster ride? Coz, that's like liberative, and like empowering y'know?
Doctorow's economics is one where barriers to entry have been abolished, so you have not perfect competition, but monopolistic competition. However, Econ 101 tells us that okay you get product differentiation (a good thing right? Coz crap can never come in enough flavors) but also you get over capacity and higher per unit costs. In other words a colossal waste of resources.
It's like development economists getting a hard on coz of how like all these peasant women are bringing their bunch of bananas to market, and these little kids are trying to sell you crap as you take your taxi from the airport to your hotel- and how it is all so alive and vibrant... aw! kindly fuck off back to Denmark (or wherever)... it's a waste of resources is what it is. If you really think things like street vendors and the Grameen bank are a good thing in themselves (as opposed to a distinctly second best solution (one arising out of Institutional failure- i.e a failure in internalising an externality) then adopt them why don't you? Look what will happen to your property taxes- not to mention municipal service provision- if you do.
Unless you like gentrify it. "Liestyle market' the fuck out of it. But why not just turn yourself into a fucking theme park while you're about it? Or just join a cult.
In Doctorow's book, 'New Work' fails- not coz lardass pony-tail guy is inherently crap- but coz shite guys in shite suits are shite. Well, okay, this is more than a tautology. Suits are shite. But suits are middle aged. And middle aged people are facing death. Not when it would be a blessed release but while still they have one or two illusions about themselves left to lose.
Middle aged people are inherently tragic. True, they are tragic coz they are crap. But, crap in blue jeans is bathos not pathos- artistically, it strikes the wrong note.
I guess there must be a new Arthur Miller out there. Instead of 'Death of a salesman'- he's writing 'Death of a blogger.' Or maybe, I got the whole thing wrong. Perhaps that's what Doctorow has done here. I'm just too stupid to see it. If so the title 'the makers' is actually quite literary, the kavi, the poet is the maker par excellence. Saussure who detected hypograms- mot themes- in Vedic texts would not be slow to find the mot theme of Doctorow's 'Makers''. It is crap. Not shite- which is Joycean- but crap. Even the download site is called either craphound or shitdog or something fecal. Still, scavenging as the New New Economics might have its merits. I hear there's big money in dog poo in my neighborhood.
But enough from this grumpy old fart. My Levis are cutting into my belly something fierce. Big mistake to wash them. Bigger mistake to have gotten old.
In future, I will only read Sci Fi about young people. That, truly, is the elixir. Also stuff with like ray guns and cute alien chicks. The best Sci Fi is antique.