This year, I will pay more than $400 for web hosting, domain registration, photo hosting at Flickr, and video hosting at Vimeo, to say nothing of the occasional gadget and software purchases… all for Via Negativa and its sister sites (The Morning Porch, Moving Poems, Woodrat photohaiku, Shadow Cabinet, Spoil, etc.). And I live on an extremely limited income. How limited? Let’s just say that I haven’t made enough to pay income tax in years.
Direct begging is one approach, and I haven’t ruled that out yet. But I like giving people something for their money. So may I introduce to you (drumroll please) the Via Negativa swag store at CafePress.com.
The Chinese character wu (Japanese mu) has been the sort-of logo for Via Negativa and the Via Negativa blog cluster for some time now. (I grabbed a public-domain image from the Wikimedia Commons; that’s not my calligraphy.) This is the wu of the Daoist ideal, wu wei, and in Chan/Zen Buddhist circles, it was Zhaozhou’s famously ambiguous answer to a koan: Does a dog have buddha-nature or not?
Long before The Morning Porch, in the early years of this blog I had an almost daily cartoon — possibly the world’s least action-packed comic — called Words on the Street. Today I dug out the original drawing, rescanned it, and re-created a number of the cartoons at high enough resolution to reproduce on shirts and mugs.
I’ve made nine of my personal favorite WotS cartoons available on items at the new storefront. I was fairly conservative about what I put them on, but if you want them on other CafePress offerings, just let me know. The fuller range of items for the wu/woo design will give you an idea of what’s possible. (I’m hoping to pull together a print-on-demand book from the new/old Words on the Street cartoons, too, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it in time for holiday shopping.)
I’ve added a mark-up of just 10% to everything at the store, so I’m probably not going to get rich, unless this blog has a lot more fans than I think. But it was blast working on these designs, and if all that happens is a few Via Negativa readers get a good chuckle, that’s still a good outcome as far as I’m concerned.
In slightly less-commercial Via Negativa-related news, I guess I should mention, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t see my link on Facebook, that my collection Breakdown: Banjo Poems will be coming out from my favorite chapbook publisher, Seven Kitchens Press, in May. First drafts of all those poems originally appeared right here, so thanks to everyone who left comments and offered encouragement.