Photo by What WhatMy next book begins with the JayZ quote “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man.”
Although I don’t use the quote in Stare in the Darkness (OUT SOON!) I thought it captured the neoliberal ethos perfectly. JayZ knows something folks like Ed Dunn over at Dream and Hustle have known for a while. In this age where the very idea of the public is dissolving as we speak, we are all expected to be entrepreneurs of our own bodies. Expected to become businesses. And this message is driven home in the self-help books we read, in the churches many of us attend. The elementary school my kids go to have begun to give kids fake dollars in exchange for good behavior, dollars they can use to purchase an array of goods at the school store. Becoming a good student becomes synonymous with being a good businessperson…which then becomes synonymous with being a good consumer (I’m pretty sure the kids don’t have a bank they can put their fake dollars in so their money can gain interest).
I am particularly interested in the political consequences of this idea, but in Salon Laura Miller deals with the pop culture consequences, examining how authors–like myself!–are increasingly expected to sell and market themselves. While some authors embrace the opportunity others rail against it. Now to be fair she paints a far too romantic picture of how the book industry used to be–the industry exists to make a profit, so there was never a time in which the market didn’t intervene into what was sold and what wasn’t, into which authors got the good space at the bookstore and which authors didn’t. And this is before we even deal with the racial politics of the book industry.
But with that said, I think what we’re dealing with certainly feels different. As if the hustle never ever stops. The authors I grew up reading? Not sure they’d last under these circumstances.
(Did I tell you my book is available NOW for pre-order at Amazon?)