Friday, November 30, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion!

Bloggers love to write, as vocalists love to sing and painters love to turn a blank canvas into something nearly alive. I think of myself as an artist, though I don't think I'm all that talented. I say that not as an attempt to fish for a compliment, but to make a point: I may be average or even below average as an artist, but I still feel this driving need to create. And a lot of artistic-types will say that they create for themselves and not for other people, but, in the end, what good is it if no one's there to read the words, or hear the music, or appreciate the aesthetics?

My skills as an artist may be unexceptional (I have enough skill to enjoy creating, but not nearly enough to make money on it), but in my heart I am a student of art. And while art - whether in the form of music, or sculpture, or the written word - is un umbrella term that covers many concepts, art at its core is communication. Communication exists between at least two people. When we create, we want other people to see it. We want to have some kind of impact on people. How do we find these people?

Shameless self-promotion!

We don't like that idea, though. Somewhere along the way as we've traversed the valleys and streams of the Internet, we've developed this idea that promoting ourselves is wrong. Maybe it has to do with the onslaught of advertisements and promotions (both legitimate and scam): pop-up ads, banners, spam emails, et cetera. Hell, sometimes we have to wait as long as 30 seconds for a commercial to run before we can watch a video on YouTube. Sometimes our complaints are legit and sometimes we're just having first world problems; either way, people are fed up with ads.

Nowadays the Internet is replete with memes, humorous and/or inspiring images, and pictures of famous people next to one of their thought-provoking quotes. Sometimes the creators of these images - artists in their own right, I believe - "sign" their works with either a website URL or a Twitter handle or a Facebook page. This has made some people rather unhappy: people who like a given picture, but don't like giving credit to other people, or feel indignant toward the idea that someone is engaging in "shameless self-promotion." Some go so far as to alter another's work in order to remove the signature. It happened to me not that long ago.

"But it's shameless self-promotion!" Yeah, it is. I'm promoting my blog when I slap my website on one of my images; essentially, I'm promoting myself. A blog without readers isn't really a blog at all. Those of you who read my blog - fellow bloggers, regular commenters and conversationalists, question-askers and truth-seekers who visit my blog, and even those who visit regularly yet remain anonymous - you make Dead-Logic special. I have learned more from all of you than you ever could from me. So yes, I will continue to promote myself, because I want more people like you in my life.

Carl Sagan was accused of shameless self-promotion on occasion. I happen to agree with those dissenters: Sagan did indeed promote himself. The difference I have is that I'm happy he did. Sagan presented science to the world, and because he promoted himself, we experience his sense of awe and wonder and curiosity. We became part of his journey, and we see his genuine desire to find the truth; to know, rather than just believe. Much of the credit for my own love of science must be given to Carl Sagan. Science became for me not merely an abstract discipline, but a passion, because I saw that passion in him.

I am by no means comparing myself to Sagan. All I'm saying is that, as Norman Melchert described philosophy, we are all part of a "great conversation" in which we interact not only with each other, but with the great thinkers of history who have also interacted with each other in the search for truth via an ongoing exchange of ideas and arguments about humanity's deepest and most importunate concerns. What is sometimes called "shameless self-promotion" is my introducing myself to this great conversation. And, honestly, I want everyone else to do the same thing.

If I see a picture or an image someone created, and I like it enough to share it with the world, I want to know who made it, because I want to see what else that person has brought to the conversation. What a tragedy it would have been if, say, Pablo Picasso - one of my favorite artists - had never revealed his identity to the world, or if someone had taken his work and refused to give credit to its creator. To think of what we would have lost. And for the record, I'm not comparing myself with either Sagan or Picasso.

I'm comparing them with you.

Dead-Logic

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