I was going to write a completely different post today, but every time I start writing it it starts turning into something else. My brain keeps running on things like this:
Which is of course a parody of this, which I wrote:
Actually parody is kind of a crude word to describe it. I think it’s probably something much more subtle and interesting.
But anyway this post isn’t really about that. It’s about something infinitely more important: a feeling I am having in my insides.
Which is this: it’s very weird writing for Time magazine.
Believe it or not I actually sometimes forget, during the process of transferring text from my hard drive to its pages, that Time is perceived as — heard as — the voice of a profoundly conservative (culturally at least) mainstream American hivemind. I wouldn’t describe any of the people I know who write for it as belonging to such an entity. They are, to a one, smart and interesting and fully autonomous individuals. Hardly any of them even have brain-slugs.
But when you write for Time your voice gets assimilated into a larger, louder over-voice. Not that it’s all that loud in and of itself. But as far as I know they still print about three million of the things every week. And plus when you say something on the cover it becomes a pseudo-event in itself, and your saying of it becomes itself news, which results in it being written up and retweeted and generally refracted in the million-faceted fly-like eye of the Internet.
Which makes the business of trying to say things in Time a weird one. You try to use it for good, but whenever you’re using an amplifier that big (strained and probably technically inaccurate metaphor here but stay with me) your voice is bound to end up getting distorted and heard in weird ways.
So for example when you say, “this book is good!‚” people can hear you as saying, these other books are shit! Or, I’m saying this book is good for disingenuous reasons! And so on.
I’m not complaining. If I was that freaked out about it I could always, say, not write for Time magazine. It’s just that things like the Stranger cover remind me of how it sounds to other people on the other side of the megaphone. When you’ve felt like an outsider and an underdog most of your life, it’s hard to adjust to people seeing you any other way.