Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I once had a teacher who was inordinately fond of a small repertory of witticisms. About once a week she would survey the classroom in simulated consternation and say: “Hummmn. Not everybody is here today. There are some people missing. Who are they, I wonder?...If you are absent, please raise your hand.” This was supposed to be amusing, and for the first two or three dozen times it was, sort of. We soon enough learned to fight corn with corn by all raising our hands.
Yet this harmless little farce exemplified a recurrent and perplexing problem that does from time to time appear in life: by what means does one communicate with the incommunicado? I have had a certain number of email communications from occasional readers of the blog in which the sender tells me that he or she is encountering technical difficulty in summoning the weekly posts from outer cyberspace to the actual computer screen. All that appears is the post’s title. This news has presented me with a dilemma. I am reluctant to admit that in fact the title is usually the best part, after which it is usually all downhill, so that they are not really missing all that much.
The Berkeleyan philosophical problem is of course engaging. If you write the Great American Novel, show it to no one, and upon your demise leave it abandoned in a trunk in the attic of a house later razed to enlarge the municipal parking lot, is it still the Great American Novel? This is a fascinating poser, but in and of itself perhaps insufficient to make the mare go. So at the practical level I must now offer this advice to all those who are not here today. It might be a browser problem. My tired old Firefox has begun to balk at all sorts of things. Blogger, being googlish, seems to respond more robustly to Google Chrome. A cathartic flush of the old cache—nasty as it may sound--will also, I hope, prove helpful.
I myself have taken counsel of my website guru, which brings me at last to the ostensible topic of this post: namely, my resurrected website, johnvfleming.com redivivus. In the later stages of the production of my book The Anti-Communist Manifestos, which appeared in 2009, I launched this site at the behest of the marketing mavens of W. W. Norton and Co. The website was, in effect, a gimmick for hawking the book. Since the book itself was about Commies without the dot, there was a certain mystical symmetry to the enterprise. The launching of the website was but one feature of a wide-bore commercial campaign. My publishers also sought my aid in placing a review in what their little form called “your home-town newspaper”. I was, however, unsuccessful in my attempt to solicit the cooperation of the Baxter Bulletin of Mountain Home, Arkansas.
As you know, history repeats itself. That is one of comparatively few reassuring things about history. I shall fairly soon (July) have another Norton book appearing—The Dark Side of the Enlightenment. The marketing mavens, a migratory species, have reappeared. Hence my web guru, Beth Morgan, has re-animated johnvfleming.com, mounting thereon some new information about the new book. Though the pictorial matter has the same old author, there is a new book jacket. Limited progress is preferable to no progress at all. The new posting includes some rash promises made by me. I there declare it as my intention to add a few mini-essays about the subject matter of The Dark Side of the Enlightenment, and about the process of book publishing generally, in the foreseeable future. What I don’t say is that the execution of my good intentions will depend upon my ability to remaster Dreamweaver, the web-design software that allows the ignorant and the amateur to create an illusion of knowledge and professionalism. It’s been so long since I last used it that I can no longer remember even the first steps. Maybe it will turn out to be like riding a bicycle—supposedly you never forget how to ride a bicycle—but I somehow doubt it.