Mass Hierarchies and Art Monopolies

The 21st century has brought with it advancements and complications that nobody in the pre-digital age dealt with: the dotcom boom is our modern Gutenberg press.

The industrialized automaton of book printing is one thing, but the mass sales and proliferation of their hard-cover copies in an international market is another. In the most interconnected age in history, competition within art is more stratified than ever. Whether the shelves of our grandparent’s local libraries where the Book of the Month Club dished out copies of Richard Wright, or the airport bookstore’s exaltation of Stephen King’s newest novel on the top shelf, or even the Carolingian monks studiously copying Cicero in 8th century, the geography of publication always seemed limited by access; and therefore the acclaim and popularity of authors had always been restricted by access… and the total amount of authors.

With educational opportunities abounding, the brightest amongst us have access to the literary craft and artistic domain like never before. Yet the massive marketplace available through Amazon and other distributers makes a few favored authors the catch all for book sales. Where poets could once be “the best around,” it seems to be noticed one needs to be the “best” period. How many brilliant artists are lost in the river of an oversaturated, never-going-to-be-egalitarian-and-that’s-ok kind of market?

For those familiar with the infamous Pareto distribution, it seems the swimming pool for creatives is only getting bigger and a few fish fatter. But where does that leave the novice poet? A job in academia? Well statistics are equally dismal.

The bottom line is that we all want to be published and we all want to be read. Hopefully making enough income so that we don’t become the emaciated embodiment of a “starving artist.” But I don’t think that’s possible… I think the only thing that I am left with is the desperation, joy, and final conclusion that despite overwhelming odds, I will choose to write; and as I do so with the hope of being published one day, all that I can strive for is to write something worth reading.

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