Vol. 3, Issue 5, February 15, 2005
Too Much of a Good Thing
The Publishing world is rather Small in many respects, as I have noted; it is not a question of Conspiracy, but of seeking out fellow Citizens who share the unusual Burdens of managing a News-paper or Magazine. To those who would allege Collusion among these professionals, I would merely point to the infamous Luncheon at Tavern on the Green wherein the estimable Mister Salzberger and Mister Newhouse took to blows with their grilled Kabobs, and spilled some excellent Pinot Grigot all over the mayor in the Process. There is a Community, but it is one of Professionals coolly appraising one another
Which is not to Say that one may not meet some Interesting people. Monday last I had the Pleasure of receiving the estimable Eustace Tilley, who is possessed of some modest Renown in some circles. Indeed, I have found him most Helpful these past few years as we have labored to place the modest star of our own humble News-paper amidst the teeming Constellations of the publication World. But this day, he had no gems of Wisdom, only Questions.
"Do you know, Watley, that I am feeling my Years a bit. We have all been Celebrating an Anniversary this week, reminiscing about the days of our Youth. It was quite a different World back then!"
I allowed as how things have certainly Changed, showing him my collection of outdated Flags (the continual addition of new States is, I think, a conspiracy of the Flag-making industry). He pulled out some original Copies of his estimable publication from the year of its Inception, and the difference was Striking indeed.
"We sought for Years to establish our course," he said, "struggling to find an Audience and a Purpose both." To which I could but nod in vigorous Assent: our circulation being exceedingly Modest despite nearly two Years of making Emmett stand on the corner with a Sandwich-board advertising our Presence.
The crux of the matter is that Tilley's flagship has, with some minor Steering corrections along the way, found its Course, and steams comfortably along through well-charted Waters. Tilley can afford all the silken Kerchiefs and Monocles he wishes, of course.
"But I miss the buccaneering days," he opines wistfully into his Glenmorangie. "Watley, I envy you for not being Burdened with success as I am.
Harrumphing a bit, I concede the Point.
"I mean, your publication is a veritable Blank Slate: you can take it in Any direction you so choose. Who would notice?"
Ah, yes, Tilley, well, we do have Some modest readership, I do say...
"Piffle, old boy. If I were to drop my Monocle or swat that dratted Butterfly, I would face a Deluge of commentary: the Mayor, the dowagers of High Society - the very City would grind to a shocked halt. I am limited by my Past. But I daresay you could set the whole outfit here on Fire without raising concern on the part of the public."
Well, if I do say, Tilley, that is, we have encountered a certain Degree of...
"Burn it down, print upside-Down, re-print the Sears catalogue, publish only in German: there is no end to what you could do, with nary a Peep, nary a Whisper of discontent! Ah, I envy you your Freedom!"
Heavens, look at the time. I shall be late for my Luncheon.
"A parting Toast then: to creative Freedom; let it be Cherished while it may."
Indeed. Though, perhaps, there are times when there is Too much of a Good thing. As Tilley puts on his hat and Leaves, I must confess I do reflect upon his statements, concluding, Eventually, that I would rather be Myself than he, free to Invent and free to Change what I will before our history is set in Stone.
For the Moment.