Monday, November 17, 2014

Update 10 - My Audience

Progress Report

Upon reviewing and tweaking what I've got written so far, I'd say it's going well. For instance, after some wrestling, I think I've found a good way to tackle the issue of human nature (as in what it is and isn't, and what that has to do with pop-culture), which was giving me some trouble because there are at least two implied positions about human nature prevalent in pop-cultural circles which have a serious effect on the kind of things that get made and the kind of criticism used to judge them. Two implied positions on human nature, and maybe zero (or ½) explicit ones.

If you look back at my very first articles, you'll see some discussion of the kind of thing I mean, and maybe once I've got the section in better shape, I'll show you what I've been working on. But, that isn't really the point of this post.

Some Thoughts

What I wanted to discuss here is another issue that arises when you're writing about this kind of stuff. That is, for whom do you write?

Who is my audience? I mean, who are you? I look at my blog stats (I've been playing video games since I was three, so I'm conditioned to experience the drama of the numbers going up and down.), and I appreciate that y'all are taking the time to listen to me, and I sincerely hope that what I write is helpful to you. But, I have no idea whether I'm preaching to the choir, amusing the circus goers, causing the intellectual elite to roll their eyes, etc.

When I imagine the best audience to write for, the ideal circumstance, I imagine what amounts to basically a division of labor. What I mean is that I imagine an audience that isn't being swayed from some position or opinion they hold to take up one that I'm proposing. Rather, I'm just the one sitting down and tracking down metaphors, deductive arguments, and implications while y'all are off doing other things that need doing. That way, when you sit down after a day of work, I've already blazed a few trails of thought for you to take a hike on. You end up making the same progress I did, but it saves you time, because I banged my head against the desk for a few hours so you didn't have to. Not that you couldn't explore the potential poetic underpinnings of Fred Krueger. You're just busy, so I do the leg work, and we both enjoy the benefits.

But, when I set out to write this book I'm writing, I knew that many of the people interested in the topic of pop-culture (or at least many of the vocal ones) do disagree with me on some fundamental points. And the question arises: to attempt to persuade, or to not attempt to persuade?

The blog itself proceeded by saying “not”. In the blog, I adopted a glib (and charming, I hope) kind of bravado when it comes to fundamental positions about the universe, saying something like, “This is true, deal with it,” and then moving on to build on those foundations without explicitly arguing for them.

The book can't really go that way though because, as I've said in a previous update, the book is meant to be a single, coherent whole, and the foundation is an important part of a whole edifice. These conflicting views of human nature are pivotal to understanding what kind of things go on in pop-culture and, frankly, it's pretty interesting stuff in its own right.

So, to whom do I write it? Do I try to convince people that disagree with me? Or do I write for people that agree with me fundamentally, but who may not have had some of these ideas yet?

I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Just trying to be persuasive could distract from the importance of the topics, and not trying to persuade at all could lead to lazy writing. I'll assume my audience has at least some familiarity with pop-culture (of course), a pretty good grasp of the English tongue, and good will – that is, the willingness to give foreign ideas a fair hearing and the desire to come to an understanding.

Also, let me just remind y'all that I am open to hearing from any of you. If you'd like to tell me who you are, or why you read the blog, or make a suggestion about this or any other relevant topic, I'd be happy to listen.

© 2014 John Hiner III

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