Today is Via Negativa’s tenth birthday. It seems like just yesterday, etc. But the media landscape has changed a lot over the last ten years; blogs are now thoroughly mainstream. The sort of daily writing and self-publishing that Luisa and I do here is still looked at askance in more conservative literary circles, but I think it’s proved very productive for both of us, yielding books and chapbooks, videopoem collaborations, invitations to poetry readings and conferences, and even, for me, a long-term relationship with a fellow blogger.
But let’s keep this in perspective. Five hundred years from now, if a literate civilization still exists, the 21st-century American writers they’ll probably most celebrate are those whose names we now barely recognize. I speak, of course, of the many brilliant writers of screenplays and TV scripts. And why are we just now entering what many are calling a golden age of television? In large part because the power of the publishers and media conglomerates is crumbling. And in general, thanks to the internet and all its disruptions to the traditional media landscape, writers have few restraints and fewer — or no — intermediaries between us and our audiences, who in turn are becoming more independent and creative, with fan fiction, videopoetry and the like.
What we now call remix was always essential to the storytelling and song-generating process, of course. And as it grows in cultural prominence, the (often collaboratively produced) artwork regains its rightful place at the center of creative life, and the Artist or Writer can go back to being a plain old artist or writer, a skilled worker rather than a demigod.
This, as I see it, is the milieu from which collaborative literary blogs such as Via Negativa have emerged as primary outlets for their authors. I’m pleased to have been a participant in this revolution. Back on Via Negativa’s sixth birthday, I wrote a blogging manifesto which I would like to think is still relevant, despite or perhaps because of the exponential growth of corporate, web-gobbling social networks and the meme machines flooding every feed with viral content. Thanks to all Via Negativa’s readers and to my fellow literary and personal bloggers for reading and linking and just generally for keeping us company out here in the open, non-corporate web. Industrial civilization seems more set on self-destruction than ever, but let’s keep this blogging thing going as long as we can!