Somebody recommended a blog to me: “I like the tone of it.” So before long I found myself wandering around this blog called Tribal Writer (tagline: “Because you’re a creative badass”). It talks about how to imprint your soul on the world via social media. When you’ve imprinted it – bam! – that’s your soulprint.
A soulful dinosaur (taken in Dinosaur, Colorado by Keith Davis Young, via Enthusiasms)
I don’t understand how the soulprinting process works, but what it seems to mean is trying to achieve some sort of authenticity (don’t know what that means, either) in your self-promotion. It means making your voice “pure and true” but also as compelling as a “gateway drug” in order that you will connect with the right “clusters”. (Mmm …. clusters.) What you need to do is identify the Right People to whom to reveal your authentic soulery. You need to create works that are objects of desire to people beyond your immediate circus of influence. You need to cultivate your interestingness to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
I read a few posts of the blog, trying to keep my mind open. I could learn something here, I said to myself, as yet another delivery from the Book Depository arrived and the pile beside my bed mounted up. But what happened, as so often does when we try to keep our minds open, was that my mind kept reflexively closing. It was almost painful to keep it open, like a badly swollen eye.
If your blog is all over the place, it won’t have a chance to sink through any one cluster because it’s too busy appealing to different clusters. So by the time person B or person C checks it out, your blog doesn’t seem relevant to them — which means they lose interest. The buzz stops and keels over dead.
Not to mention that if your message — your voice — is that inconsistent or compromised or watered-down to begin with, you’re unlikely to get anybody talking about you at all.
One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was this: picture your Ideal Reader in your head and write directly and intimately to that reader. Instead of reaching for the masses you’re reaching for the heart and soul of that one reader. You make her feel recognized
(and recognition is a gift)
by saying what she can’t, or didn’t know she wanted to say. When you resonate like that, you make a powerful connection — and a fan, maybe even a True Fan, who gets excited enough to share you with others.
Because she is one of your Right People.
By keeping your voice pure and true, you can send it out across the Internet and be somebody’s Right Person. You might even deliver a message that she needs to hear — because maybe you’re the only Right Person at that particular point in time, who can in some way tell her:
You are not lost, no matter what they say. You are wandering and exploring, which is as it should be. You will find your tribe. You will find your way home.
As James Brown puts it in a tremendous essay in Sport 39, stuff like this makes me want to run screaming over a cliff.
This article is effectively describing how the wheels of the painfully hip turn. In this world, your “interestingness” is the sum total of who you know and what you’re obsessed with. Your carefully honed passions and delightful quirks are you. This world has no particular truck with anything else about you.
Does a wooden pig have a soul? (via Animalarium)
(Beyond the emptiness at work here – the necessary fakery in the name of authenticity – how anyone can utter the word “clusters” without any sense of ridiculousness, dumbfounds me.)
I know I’m missing the point here – and maybe I’m missing it on purpose but I don’t want to be part of the target audience. Thus the point sails right past me before sinking deep into the flesh of the appropriate clusters. Regardless, though, it’s unsettling that the word “soul” has been repurposed in such a way. This word is used to describe all the joyful raucousness of a bellowing Ray Charles or to suggest to us Frank O’Hara’s inner life (“my soul! / it’s white / it’s painted white as the rain”) but here it becomes a sort of fashion item, like one of those creepy pyjama suits that all the models are wearing.
Of course, I shouldn’t blame it all on blogs like Tribal Writer. “Soul” is also the name of an Australian telecommunications company, it’s the name of a brand of stationwagon, and naturally, it’s also the name of loads of pubs and bistros. Such is the life of our words. We are doomed to eat them, on a lovely clear night on an all-weather terrace that overlooks the glittering harbour.