As I was writing my immediate vs. relaible post, I wanted to refer to DFW’s convocation speech that’s been posted online since 2005 here. (You can find it preserved in a web archive here.) I’ve forwarded this bit to dozens and dozens of people. For me, it was/is an extremely inspiring piece. Being able to share it with people who would care about it was a really special thing. It’s wonderful writing, an inspiring message, and a large dose of humility in about 8 pages of text
Since DFW’s death the speech has been committed to print. Which, I guess in the long run is a good thing. However, the lawyers of the publishing companies sent a cease a desist order to the person who originally hosted the passage. It was from that site that the text went viral for the whole world to read and ultimately created the market for the book that is now on the shelves. I wouldn’t be surprised if the now publisher originally read the passage on that site. Now, because someone needs to make money, everyone has to pay to read it. Three months ago it was free. The whole passage is 8 printed pages. For some reason on Amazon the book is 144. They put one sentence per page, how clever. I’m very sure the artist who wrote a 1104 page tomb that sells for less that this book would be over himself with joy.
I’m pretty happy that the web preserved it in a way that everyone could read it b/c it’s meant to be read – part of the reason I’m even linking it here now. It’s nice to see our own systems making sure we do a little less harm to each other. Still though, the whole idea makes me really angry.
And to you petty publishers standing over a cold dead artist shaking his bones so that $15 increments fall out one SKU at a time, may your hell be hot. You should keep one of those books close to your bed stand as a reminder of why your industry is hosed.