18 June 2007

Mondo Miscellany

This is, perhaps, more miscellaneous than most collections of miscellany. That's in part due to the intermittent fever and continued tinnitus from this ear infection (the latter of which is so loud that I'm having trouble hearing the voices in my head that usually tell me what to do).

The publishing industry continues to astound me with its strange focus on package instead of content. Perhaps that works for Procter & Gamble, but the last time I checked books were not as fungible as laundry detergent. It does appear that — at least at Random House — publishing executives are. And continued reliance on the philosophy of bestsellers isn't very helpful, since predicting bestsellers is virtually impossible. Perhaps relying a little bit less on an already tapped-out audience of heavy readers might help; casual readers' money spends just as well (but then, we're back to that promotion-and-branding problem again). And then those mean old bookstores come along and demand favors for promoting one's books, while some authors whinge over book contracts (usually for the wrong reasons).

Of course, publishing is far from alone in its misunderstanding of its own products. The film industry tends to be particularly inept. For example, there are moves afoot to make a film from the online game City of Heroes, which seems rather a silly thought, since Marvel v. NCSoft is still going. Then, too, there's the question of how much source material one needs to make a feature-length film. I suppose that a truly exceptional short story might be enough, but we're all definitely familiar with novels that are far too much for the screen.

Of course, one of the classic problems in reasoning implicated by this morass of miscellany comes from taking material out of context. That's the underlying cause of the science versus religion arguments, which depend upon a false dichotomy: That one's morals and ethics must depend exclusively upon either considerations of proximate cause ("science") or first cause ("faith"), but can never partake of both... or even be illuminated by both. This isn't really an issue at all, except as it impacts on the real world. Eppur si muove indeed!