Neil Gaiman forklarer, hvorfor piratkopiering er godt

Gaimans oplevelse er, at jo mere hans bøger er til rådighed som gratis downloads på nettet, jo flere sælger han. Mange mennesker opdager deres yndlingsforfattere på biblioteket – eller på nettet, og derfor mister en forfatter ikke noget ved at få sine bøger lagt på nettet – snarere tværtimod, om man skal tro Gaiman.

Song to the people of Egypt

The following verses were written by the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819 in the hope of inciting a peaceful revolution which would bring down the tyranny of the King and the rich, land-owning nobility.

This poem aptly describes what Shelley was hoping for in England, which is almost exactly what has happened in Egypt right now. For England, substitute Egypt. What England never could, Egypt did.

This Egyptian revolution brought down the dictator, but it must also be the end of Orientalism and the stupid European notion of the Arab world as “other”. Our culture and beliefs may not be the same, but our hearts and dreams and hopes and aspirations are the same. Our leaders may be enemies, but those who suffer will eventually think the same. Who is to say we are not brothers and friends?

SONG TO THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT (From: The Mask of Anarchy, by P.B. Shelley)

‘Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold–

‘Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free–

‘Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

‘Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.

‘Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses’ heels.

‘Let the fixed bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.

Let the horsemen’s scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.

‘Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

‘And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armed steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.

‘Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,

‘The old laws of England–they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo–Liberty!

On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.

‘And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew,–
What they like, that let them do.

‘With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.

Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.

‘Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand–
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

‘And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.

‘And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

‘And these words shall then become
Like Oppression’s thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again–again–again–

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number–
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you–
Ye are many–they are few.’

Pessimistens guide til de næste ti år

Den canadiske forfatter Douglas Coupland (kendt for romaner som Generation X, Microserfs og JPod) har begået en pessimistisk guide til de næste ti år, baseret på en simpel lineær fremskrivning af tendenserne de sidste ti:

1) It’s going to get worse

No silver linings and no lemonade. The elevator only goes down. The bright note is that the elevator will, at some point, stop.

2) The future isn’t going to feel futuristic

It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn’t feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

3) The future is going to happen no matter what we do. The future will feel even faster than it does now

The next sets of triumphing technologies are going to happen, no matter who invents them or where or how. Not that technology alone dictates the future, but in the end it always leaves its mark. The only unknown factor is the pace at which new technologies will appear. This technological determinism, with its sense of constantly awaiting a new era-changing technology every day, is one of the hallmarks of the next decade.

6) The middle class is over. It’s not coming back

Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day?

That’s where all the other jobs that once made us middle-class are going – to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won’t stop people from self-identifying as middle-class, and as the years pass we’ll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!

9) The suburbs are doomed, especially thoseE.T. , California-style suburbs

This is a no-brainer, but the former homes will make amazing hangouts for gangs, weirdoes and people performing illegal activities. The pretend gates at the entranceways to gated communities will become real, and the charred stubs of previous white-collar homes will serve only to make the still-standing structures creepier and more exotic.

20) North America can easily fragment quickly as did the Eastern Bloc in 1989

Quebec will decide to quietly and quite pleasantly leave Canada. California contemplates splitting into two states, fiscal and non-fiscal. Cuba becomes a Club Med with weapons. The Hate States will form a coalition.

Den danske forfatter Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff er inde på lignende dommedagsvisioner i sit historieværk Menneskets Afvikling.

Jeg påstår ikke at kende fremtiden og skal ikke kunne sige, om det virkelig er så umiddelbart katastrofalt, som Coupland (og i endnu højere grad Neutzsky-Wulff) lægger op til. Men det er svært at komme uden om, at tendenserne i de sidste år er bekymrende og fortjener at blive taget alvorligt.

Link: A radical pessimist’s guide to the next ten years (via Boing Boing).

Dagens citat: Oehlenschläger om indvandring

Fra prologen til Aladdin (1805):

        Thi Nordens Kraft er uden Østens Ild
	Det samme som et hærdet Demant-Sværd,
  	Der mangler en varmblodig Muskel-Arm,
	For stærkt at svinges. Blomsten, sund af Frøe,
	Til Solen trænger, for at giennemglødes;
	Og bliver der for langt et Mellemrum,
	Før Asianerne til Norden drage,
 	For at forædle Slægten, varme den —
	Da bliver Slægten, som du seer desværre!
	En Blomst, forlængst engang fra Syden hentet,
	Men som vantrives Aar for Aar, hentørres,
	Blier bleg af Farve, søvnig, mat — og døer.

Uden indvandring sydfra ville den nordiske race hensygne og dø – og da dette kunne have lange udsigter, måtte Danmark i 1805 altså lade sig nøje med Oehlenschlägers orientalske digt om en fattig, utilpasset muslim og hans vej gennem, tilværelsen. Skarpt set af Oehlenschläger dengang.

Siden har vi fået den ægte vare (om man så må sige), og der kan næppe være tvivl om, at kulturblandingen har gjort Danmark til et bedre og mere helstøbt og spændende land, som Oehlenschäger forudsagde allerede for 205 år siden.

Dagens citat: D.H. Lawrence

Fra hans bog Studies in Classic American Literature, kapitel 8:

Man should never do the thing he believes to be wrong. Because if he does, he loses his own singleness, wholeness, natural honour.

If you want to do a thing, you’ve either got to believe, sincerely, that it’s your true nature to do this thing – or else you’ve got to let it alone.

Believe in your own Holy Ghost. Or else, if you doubt, abstain.

A thing that you sincerely believe in cannot be wrong, because belief does not come at will. It comes only from the Holy Ghost within. Therefore a thing you truly believe in, cannot be wrong.

Gæsteindlæg: Lige nu skulle du være ung

Iraq, Highway of Death

Lige nu skulle du være ung,

Eller kært barn har mange navne

Af forfatter Charlotte Strandgaard

Kært barn har mange navne.

Krigen I Afganistan og Irak var fra dag et en krig mod terror. I de sidste år også kaldet en krig for især kvinders frigørelse og uddannelse.

Lige nu skulle du være ung

Du er ung

Dit hår er som en kappe af natsort silk

Du dansede

Du og de andre sortlokkede nymfer bevægde jer med ynde i rødt silke

På afstand er du et eksotisk eventyr

Naar du åbner munden er du ærkedansk

Lige nu skulle du være ung

Aflevere et essay i skolen

Fnise med dine jævnaldrende

Se drømmende efter en dreng

Begynde at tænke paa din fremtid

Skal du bruge dine anlæg for matematik

Eller dit usædvanlige sprogøre

Måske vente og tage et år med arbejde

Højskole eller udlandet eller fortsætte med det samme med en uddannelse?

Eller glemme alle disse overvejelser og gå på café

Lige nu skulle du være ung

Lige nu skjuler dig du dig i en kirke

I de sidste mange år har du været angst

Lyttet til håbefulde eller skrækindjagende rygter

Tryglet om hjælp

Smilet til alle i et desperat håb om asyl

Din mor, som er enke, har aldrig måttet lære dansk

Du og dine to søstre har boet med jeres mor paa otte asylcentre i tolv år

Du er en gammel sjæl

I stedet for at aflevere dit essay skjuler du dig med dine søstre og din mor

Lige nu skulle du være ung

Hvis vi beholder dig og de 275 andre kommer de væltende

I øvrigt er det ikke vores ansvar

Dine forældre kunne for mange aar siden være rejst med penge på lommen

Din mor så sin mand blive dræbt af en diktators lejesvende

Den diktator Danmark gik i krig mod for frihed og demokrati

Eller var det de biologiske våben?

Kært barn har mange navne

Lige nu skulle du være ung

Måske danse med den unge, døde soldat fra krigen I Afganistan

Ham vi sender i samme krig mod terror for demokrati og frihed

Samme ord vi bruger som begrundelse til at smide dig ud

Ingen muslimske horder her

Horder der vil tvangsomvænde os med ord eller terror

Vi kender ikke de soldater vi sender i krig langt borte

Vi kender ikke dig

Det er stadig ikke vores ansvar

Lige nu skulle I være unge du og dine søstre og soldaterne i Afganistan

Lige nu gemmer du dig ikke længere i en kirke

Lige nu kan du ikke tale for rædsel

Din mors mareridt blev til virkelighed ud på natten i en dansk kirke

Kampuniformerne slog ikke liv ihjel

Vore love slog dit sidste dirrende håb ihjel

Vi vil ikke kende dig

Vi vil ikke kende dine medflygtninge

Vi vil ikke kende de unge danske soldater i Afganistan

Vi vil slet ikke kende din bror, der nu er sendt bort

Din bror som ikke kan skrive kurdisk eller arabisk

Din bror der skjulte sig da jeres far blev slået ihjel

Døden kommer tættere og tættere på jer

Gud være lovet er det ikke vores ansvar

Dagens citat: Kristenhed vs. islam

Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff: Menneskets afvikling, s. 374:

I konflikten mellem kristendommen og Islam har der aldrig været nogen tvivl om, hvem der var barbarerne.

… lige efter en forklaring om, hvordan Saladin efter at have erobret Jerusalem brugte de velhavende af de besejrede kristnes løsepenge til at forsyne de fattige blandt dem med rejsepenge. Hvordan det gik til, da korsfarerne erobrede Jerusalem i 1099, kan man læse om her.

Dagens citat: Reza Aslan

Fra hans bog “KUN ÉN GUD” (People’s Press 2008), s. 341:

Kan islam bruges til at etablere et ægte demokrati i Mellemøsten? Kan en moderne islamisk stat skabe overensstemmelse mellem fornuft og åbenbaring og derved skabe et demokratisk samfund, der er baseret på de etiske idealer, profeten Muhammad stadfæstede i Medina for næsten 1500 år siden?

Islam ikke alene kan. Islam skal. Og det foregår i virkeligheden allerede i dele af den muslimske verden. Men det er en proces, der kun kan baseres på islamiske traditioner og værdier. Den væsentligste lære, der kan drages af Europas forfejlede “civilisationsmission” er, at hvis demokratiet skal være levedygtigt og bestående, kan det aldrig importeres.

Jamen hov? Er Europa ikke truet af islam, så vi i virkeligheden burde være bange for, at noget sådant skulle ske?

Lad mig reformulere spørgsmålet: Er “Europa” “truet” af “islam”? Det er der nogen, der mener, primært paranoide intellektuelle letvægtere. For nu at imødekomme en sådan indvending, og for at understrege, at Aslan ikke nærer mange illusioner om den øjeblikkelige status af hans demokratisk-islamiske vision, tillader jeg mig også at citere denne korte status over den islamiske verden anno 2008:

Egypten er et enevælde, der udgiver sig for republik, med en livstidspræsident og et afmægtigt parlament. Syrien er et arabisk diktatur, hvis hersker regerer efter landets almægtige militærs forgodtbefindende. Jordan og Marokko er ustabile kongedømmer, hvis unge monarker har taget forsagte skridt hen imod demokratisering, dog uden at fortabe retten til deres enevældige styre. Iran er et fascistisk land, der styres af en korrupt gejstlighed, der sætter hårdt ind på at forhindre ethvert forsøg på demokratiske reformer. Saudi-Arabien er et fundamentalistisk teokrati, hvis eneste forfatning er Koranen, og hvis eneste lov er sharia. Alle disse lande betragter ikke alene sig selv som virkeliggørelsen af det medinensiske ideal. De betragter også hinanden som lande, der på foragtelig vis vanhelliger dette ideal.

Forestiller man sig, at så uenige diktaturlande nogensinde skulle blive enige om noget som helst, der nogensinde skulle kunne true Europa? De omtalte intellektulle letvægtere kan vist godt se at pakke deres grej.

Den fremtidige udvikling i Mellem-Østen er et internt islamisk anliggende, hvor vi som europæere ikke rigtig kan gøre fra eller til, bortset fra, at vi kan håbe på, at en demokratisk og menneskeretsanerkendende reform, som bl.a. Aslan taler for og som vi før har skrevet om her på siden. Eller … en ting, vi måske kunne gøre, er at bede de intellektuelle letvægtere om at skrue lidt ned fra deres paranoia. Europa er ikke ved at blive oversvømmet af islam, og den islamiske verden udgør knap nok en trussel mod sig selv.

Lad os med andre ord sætte alle de hadere, der i Danmark mest repræsenteres af Dansk Folkeparti og omegn, på porten. Karen Jespersens exit før en forventelig Løkke-fyring er i den forbindelse måske et gunstigt tegn.

Hvad en forlægger kan gøre

Man taler meget om, at Internettet er ved at overtage populærkulturen, at aviserne er ved at uddø, at pladeselskaberne er dinosaurer, osv.

Men dog må der vel være noget, som Internettet ikke bare kan, som f.eks. en forfatter har brug for et forlag og en musiker et pladeselskab/forlag til?

Den canadiske science fiction-forfatter og blogger Cory Doctorow, som vi også citerede i det forrige indlæg, svarer på spørgsmålet i sin seneste klumme i Locus Online os siger, at ja, der er én ting, forlagene kan gøre, som Internettet ikke kan: De kan få bogen ud på boghandlernes hylder.

Doctorow skriver:

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get an e-mail from someone who’s ready to reinvent publishing using the Internet, and the ideas are often good ones, but they lack a key element: a sales force. That is, a small army of motivated, personable, committed salespeople who are on a first-name basis with every single bookstore owner/buyer in the country, people who lay down a lot of shoe-leather as they slog from one shop to the next, clutching a case filled with advance reader copies, cover-flats, and catalogs. When I worked in bookstores, we had exceptional local reps, like Eric, the Bantam guy who knew that I was exactly the right clerk to give an advance copy of Snow Crash to if he wanted to ensure a big order and lots of hand-selling when the book came in.

This matters. This is the kind of longitudinal, deep, expensive expertise that gets books onto shelves, into the minds of the clerks, onto the recommended tables at the front of the store. It’s labor-intensive and highly specialized, and without it, your book’s sales only come from people who’ve already heard of it (through word of mouth, advertising, a review, etc.) and who are either motivated enough to order it direct, or lucky enough to chance on a copy on a shelf at a store that ordered it based on reputation or sales literature alone, without any hand-holding or cajoling.

The best definition I’ve heard of “publishing” comes from my editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who says, “publishing is making a work public.” That is, identifying a work and an audience, and taking whatever steps are necessary to get the two together (you’ll note that by this definition, Google is a fantastic publisher). Publishing is not printing, or marketing, or editorial, or copy-editing, or typesetting. It may comprise some or all of these things, but you could have the world’s best-edited, most beautiful, well-bound book in the world, and without a strategy for getting it into the hands of readers, all it’s good for is insulating the attic. (This is the unfortunate discovery made by many customers of vanity publishers.)


It’s easy to imagine a web-based discount printer, web-based copyeditors and proofreaders (the Distributed Proofreader Project, which cleans up the typos in the public domain books in Project Gutenberg, is a proof-of-concept here), web-based marketing and advertising firms (“web-based” may be redundant here — are there any marketers and advertising agencies left who aren’t primarily Internet-based?), web-based PR (ditto), and even web-based editors who serve as book-doctor, rabbi, producer, confessor, and exalted doler-out-of-blessings, gracing a book with their imprimatur, a la Oprah. (…)

This vision has captured the imagination of many of my fellow techno-utopians: a stake through the heart of the Big, Lumbering Entertainment Dinosaurs Who Put Short-Sighted Profits Ahead of Art. And there’s plenty of short-term thinking in the recent history of publishing and the rise of the mega-publishers. There are plenty of “little” publishers out there, dotted around the country, figuring out how to fill in the gaps that the big guys won’t stoop to conquer: short story collections, quirky titles, books of essays, art books, experimental titles, and anthologies. These are often fabulous books with somewhat respectable numbers, but they lag the majors in one key area: physical distribution.

Det er en glimrende observation og siger også noget om, hvad en forfatter får ud af at komme på et etableret forlag frem for selv at stå for det.

Mht. musik er der selvfølgelig den hage ved det, at pladeselskabernes  standardkontrakter snyder kunstnerne så vandet driver, jfr. Courtney Love’s analyse.

Inden for bogudgivelser er det vist ikke helt så slemt (endnu?).

Link: In Praise of the Sales Force

Philip Pullman om frihedens forsvinden

Philip Pullman, forfatter bl.a. til bøgerne om Det Gyldne Kompas, skriver i The Times om frihedens forsvunden i vore moderne database- og terrorlovstider:

We do not know what is happening to us. In the world outside, great events take place, great figures move and act, great matters unfold, and this nation of Albion murmurs and stirs while malevolent voices whisper in the darkness – the voices of the new laws that are silently strangling the old freedoms the nation still dreams it enjoys.

We are so fast asleep that we don’t know who we are any more. Are we English? Scottish? Welsh? British? More than one of them? One but not another?

The new laws whisper:

We want to watch you day and night

We think you are abject enough to feel safe when we watch you

We can see you have lost all sense of what is proper to a free people

We can see you have abandoned modesty

Some of our friends have seen to that

They have arranged for you to find modesty contemptible

In a thousand ways they have led you to think that whoever does not want to be watched must have something shameful to hide

We want you to feel that solitude is frightening and unnatural

We want you to feel that being watched is the natural state of things

One of the pleasant fantasies that consoles us in our sleep is that we are a sovereign nation, and safe within our borders. This is what the new laws say about that:

We know who our friends are

And when our friends want to have words with one of you

We shall make it easy for them to take you away to a country where you will learn that you have more fingernails than you need

It will be no use bleating that you know of no offence you have committed under British law

It is for us to know what your offence is

Angering our friends is an offence

It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Terrorism Act (2000), the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002), the Criminal Justice Act (2003), the Extradition Act (2003), the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003), the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), the Inquiries Act (2005), the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.


And those laws say:

Sleep, you stinking cowards

Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms

Freedom is too hard for you

We shall decide what freedom is

Sleep, you vermin

Sleep, you scum.

Philip Pullman skal holde oplægget til Moden Liberty-konferencen i morgen, som handler om, hvad der egentlig sker med den personlige frihed i disse år. Det lyder, som om han er godt klædt på til opgaven.

Link: Malevolent voices that despise our freedoms