2021/03/03

No Seuss for You

No Seuss

Conservatives catch a lot of flak for their failure to conserve pretty much anything. Now we can add Dr. Seuss books to the rapidly lengthening list.

Predictably, the mainstream media are rushing to the book burning with jugs of kerosene and bags of marshmallows. Just as typically, their Conservative media camp followers are ineffectually wringing their hands.

What you won't see much of from either crowd of journalists is a look behind the scenes at the deeper causes and implications of the story. That's not surprising, since the whole journalistic profession has devolved into a good cop-bad cop gaslighting operation.

Going largely unremarked upon amid the triumphant gloating and impotent outrage is the little detail that the outfit which owns the rights to Dr. Seuss' catalog made the decision to stop publishing the six forbidden books last year. They specifically waited until the beloved author's birthday to announce his books' banning.

You have heard it said, "Don't give money to people who hate you." An important addendum is don't leave your life's work in the hands of people who hate you.

This advice is especially important for writers. Authors are already notorious for having high time preference. Few spare a thought for what will become of their work after they shuffle off this mortal coil. Let Dr. Seuss' fate serve as a warning. Make sure you've got a will, and look into setting up a trust to handle your IPs postmortem. You want your kids to reap the benefits of your legacy, not some faceless megacorp.

That brings us to the second unexamined angle of the Seuss censorship story. The outfit that controls Seuss' books is being called a foundation, the implication being that they're some kind of charity. In reality, they're owned by Simon & Schuster-Penguin-Random House.

Let that be another warning to authors against signing with oldpub. Perhaps before this debacle, writers could be forgiven for seeking a big book deal because the need for validation exceeded their business acumen. Now, signing with oldpub means asking a publisher that hates you to pillage your literary legacy and your children's inheritance.

The actions of Simon Penguin's House should also sound a wake-up call to those who still think woke capital has a profit motive. The Death Cult understands what Conservatives obstinately refuse to: that they who control art control the culture.

He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing.

Keep control of your work. The tools and knowledge to write your own stories and reach your target audience are at your fingertips. Find like-minded creators who can help you hone your skills, and support each other.

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26 comments:

  1. Big Five --er-- Four Lumber Mills providing the bonfire wood. How apropos.

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    1. It really is.

      Hopefully one of those big microwaves they use to dry the wood is involved.

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  2. J.R.R. Tolkien made the right choice in entrusting his work to his son, but we saw what happened with Amazon not even a month after the death of Christopher Tolkien

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    1. I know of other indie authors who've drawn up trusts or corporations to oversee their catalogs posthumously and given control over them to their sons. Clearly we need to think farther ahead than one generation.

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    2. And Christopher should have foreseen this and done something about it. Why he didn't is a mystery.

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    3. I remember reading that Christopher wasn't a Christian. The moral significance of his father's work may have been lost on him.

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    4. Ah, but Tolkien Enterprises (aka Saul Zaentz) is the real culprit here. I don't know who (back in the 70s) sold the rights to them.

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    5. JRR Tolkien sold the film rights for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to UA in 1969.

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  3. A pity. I enjoyed Penguin Classics line. Oh well. I can get them from other publishers.

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    1. Same. Ebay, those used book stores that are left, and the Internet will ensure that I get any books I yet need without giving the sawmill my cash.

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    2. With The Shadow apparently coming under public domain within the next few years, I'd have to imagine other pulp era works are close to the line. Eventually these corps are going to have nothing but modern swill to carry them and will sink under their own bloat.

      Remember, OldPub hates you. They would rather die than let you have access to books they are supposed to be selling their supposed audience. So help them die.

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    3. I'm beginning to suspect that reducing the term of copyright to life of the author might be the solution we need.

      Either that, or taking the Lovecraft approach.

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    4. Corporations being able to cling to ephemeral IP they have no moral claim to is how we ended up with so much junk art using nostalgia as a skinsuit cluttering the landscape.

      Being able to buy, sell, or absorb, IP is why things are as bad as they are.

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    5. Could you clarify what you by the Lovecraft approach? I don't think inbred hillbilly fish-people would be helpful just now.

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    6. Making his works public domain in his will.

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    7. Did Lovecraft do that? I have only a passing knowledge of the tangled, mind-blasting history of the Copyright of Cthulhu :), but I have trouble assuming Arkham House could have asserted copyright and control for so long if there was a clear directive otherwise.

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    8. That's what I'd heard he did, but I could be wrong. Other authors freely used Lovecraft's IPs even during his lifetime, and his catalog is available free online.

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    9. I seem to remember he invited, or at least permitted, other folks to write in his world, which I think makes the Cthulhu Mythos one of the earliest examples of a shared universe.

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    10. My understanding of the matter is this: Lovecraft's works are unambiguously in the public domain of Australia, which is how sites can justify posting them online (same thing happens with Robert E Howard). They've probably been moved into the public domain of the EU, but thanks to the Devil Mouse the situation in the US is tricky.

      I started to write up a summary but found that there was no way to sum up the difficulties in a short amount of space, especially since I barely understand a lot of the history and legalities myself. Instead I'll just leave a link to the best write up that I've found online:

      https://www.aetherial.net/lovecraft/index.html

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  4. Cue the rebel conservatives making jokes about how dumb this is over social media.

    I'm reminded of that old Simpsons clip from the Monorail episode.

    "My work is done here."
    "What do you mean your work is done? You didn't do anything."
    "Heh, heh. Didn't I?" *teleports away*

    No, you didn't. And that's exactly the problem.

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    Replies
    1. The Simpsons reference is fitting, since it's one of the leading postmodern series that spent decades bashing Conservative culture and Christianity in particular.

      Yet its targets not only sat there and took it, but laughed along.

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    2. The Simpsons is a good touchstone because conservatives and Christians did nothing to counteract it except stage protests about how bad a role model Bart Simpson was.

      They offered no art to counteract any of it.

      Now they want to get on their high-horse and laugh about how they were right all along? No, they share the blame.

      An example: https://twitter.com/wastelandJD/status/1366939245722632200

      "I told you it was stupid" is not a defense for letting your civilization burn.

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  5. Replies
    1. Heh! Right -- it's not really a "ban" in definition, but it gets the same results, so it's a win!

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