This month, my plan for full-spectrum dominance of the blogosphere has claimed its first two victims. Alas, poor Tonio, I didn’t know him very well at all! He never gave me a chance. Of course, he didn’t exactly go – this is cyberspace. There’s no elsewhere. You’re either here or you’re not, but most of you who are here are only here for a few minutes each day, so your presence is not merely virtual but suppositional as well. I’m like that cat Schrödinger, ya know?
Ergo, as long as I forebear from gathering site statistics, it’s as easy for me to imagine that I am talking to a large crowd from atop the good soapbox Via Negativa as it is to believe that I am preaching to the choir (& who more worthy of a sermon, after all?) – as it is to acknowledge that I am mainly talking to myself: my most inattentive audience by far! The larger the crowd, I says to myself, the more attention I get. Yes, Master Bates, says my sardonic self back to me.
“Commonbeauty” couldn’t take the heat, the pressure, the constant strain. The blogosphere is a cruel mistress. He had other fish to fry. And unlike me, he always eschewed cliches! What a sap.
Perhaps my most fiendish scheme is to prevent other potential competitors from entering the arena in the first place. I have set up a dozen front companies – venture capitalists and talent scouts – always on the lookout for fresh perspectives and exciting new ideas to smother to death under virtual wheelbarrow loads of money, sex and drugs. Those statistics you’ve seen, about how 90 percent of new blogs fizzle out after just three or four entries? You think that’s an accident? FOOL! Listen: we will bury you.
Needless to say, this is quite an undertaking. “I’ll be the last guy to let you down,” says the undertaker. He doesn’t know that his employees are mounting a union drive that will culminate with the collectivization of the whole enterprise. That’s what you get for hiring Diggers.
I do my own digging with a golden shovel. It works fine as long as I don’t hit a rock. When gold goes up against sandstone, guess who wins? Little grains of quartz, the commonest crystal in the world. Apply heat & pressure over a few million years & boom! you got a mountain. Put gold in it, & you get California. Thus Hollywood. McDonalds. Full-spectrum dominance, babe. Even as you read this, my agents are fanning out across the Internet, launching surfeit-of-service attacks on your blog hosts, distracting the U.S. copyright office’s attention from your numerous & flagrant violations with the fata morgana of file sharing, stuffing your puny comment boxes with fatuous & irrelevant messages.
But I am, as you know, an armchair mystic. As long as my butt is comfortable and my belly is full, I can babble bliss with the best of ’em. The whole purpose of religion, says the Chinese-German philosopher Ni Qi, is to ensure good digestion. So why should I tolerate sedition right in my gut?
I speak, of course, of the not-so-cynical speaker of Diogenese whose tub-thumping act has provided a sort of low amusement in these parts. At first, he was content to quote something and add just a line or two of his own, as we agreed. But then he started to get a little full of himself – that’s my department, says I. So we had a little talk, Mr. Dead Greek Anti-Philosopher Dude & me. I showed him the invisible corpse of the albino elephant, expatiated on the common end of all beauty – he could see what sand trap I was driving at. Is that where he wanted to end up? On the street, right outside the 34th Street Station, with a can full of pencils instead of a modem and a cardboard sign instead of a blog?
Yes, it was.
So today, even as I ease the capacious & distinctly malodorous Tub of Diogenes into an unmarked grave, I play midwife to the bitch called Payback & help whelp a new feature. From an all-but-imaginary post outside the 34th Street Station in Madhatter, New Jerk City, the thinker formerly known as Diogenes will telegraph Words On the Street. No more links to the Internet, no more content-providing safety net. These Words must be brief enough to fit on a cardboard sign – but pithy enough to sell pencils to the dark-suited illuminati of the PDA.
In addition – or rather, in substitution – the non-feature formerly known as Counter will be re-christened the Tomb of the Unknown Reader. I imagine y’all as pilgrims, dontcha know, visiting such holey sites wherever they be found, hither and (mostly) yon. Picture, if you will, a low and humble stone, far from the madhatting crowd at the 34th Street Station, in the middle of a peaceful grove on the great gray green greasy banks of the Limpopo River. Where the statistics go – not to die (for they were hardly ever alive) – but to pray for rebirth as fully sentient beings.
So Reader, beware. Anywhere else, you could become a statistic. Walk carefully. Don’t give out change unless you’re willing to change something of your own: your name, your clothes, your beautiful house, your internet service provider. Don’t give credit where credit isn’t due: “Visa” won’t actually get you across borders; “American Express” is a slow boat to China; “Mastercard” is a slave’s badge. You can go to the gypsy. You can go to the ant. Or you can come here. Don’t settle for anything less.