07w37:2 Brown Clark Nonfiction Search Engine

by timothy. 2 Comments


I first learned about Joe Clark through a Google Alert which let me know that he liked something I wrote enough to tag it with my name and ask rhetorically:

Who is this Tim Comeau and why is he not an esteemed colleague already?

I came back to Mr. Clark’s blog through a recent William Gibson interview (impending Gibson roundup on GR btw) which contained a link to Clark’s annotated Pattern Recognition site.

A recent posting goes off on Jess Brown, the new CBC Radio 1 show Search Engine and the ‘journalist’s Trampoline Hall‘ called Nonfiction, which began in June. Facebook has the event listing for the next Nonfiction meeting to be held on September 19th:

Non Fiction Sept 2007Nonfiction is a place for journalists of all kinds to tell stories that never made it to the public: stories killed by editors, blocked by producers, or self-censored by journalists themselves. These are the stories usually told privately, between journalists, and over drinks.

Featured speakers:
Ian Brown (and friends) on going long
” Ouimet” on clandestine corporate blogging
Paul Terefenko on why he recorded the last Nonfiction
Michael Adler on the one thousand indignities of writing for a community newspaper
Jason Anderson on film junket junkies
Kathryn Borel on why her therapist refuses to prescribe her antipsychotics despite her looming book deadline

hosted by Jesse Brown

Produced by Nonfiction: Kathryn Borel, Jesse Brown, Ian Daffern, Jeremy Gans, Sheila Heti, Geoff Siskind, Dave Wells

Mr. Clark’s first report from June 21st made three good bullet-points, of which I’m quoting the third:

The show came to a halt halfway through. On arrival, one had been presented with a “program” (actually just a postcard) declaring ALL STORIES TOLD AT NON-FICTION – suddenly it’s hyphenated – ARE CONSIDERED OFF THE RECORD AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN PRINT, BROADCAST OR CONVERSATION. Yes, these junior fascists want you not to even talk about what happened. (Then why was there a cash bar? What are we supposed to talk about, the weather?)

Exactly. Why sell tickets to something you can’t talk about? Clark goes on to report:

It all came to a head when our host, tall, handsome, affable Jesse Brown, acted like an RIAA lawyer or a security goon with binoculars at a Rush concert and accused somebody of recording the event. Would that person like to come onstage? Well, of fucking course they wouldn’t. But, a moment later, up trotted Paul from Now, who plausibly and apparently honestly explained he’d just gotten there, hadn’t been warned, and had asked people if it was all right to record. (The answer he got was, in essence, ‘meh.’)

But as we can see in the event listing, this outrageous act has only earned Mr. Terefenko’s a place on the stage at the next show.

What’s really alarming about this kind of thing is the explicitness of there being two streams of public dialogue. What exists in print (and thus the historical record) and what can exist spoken between people. I know what Antonia Zerbisias spoke about because it was told to me over a meal and drinks, where I also shared unprintable facts about things. Am I corrupted by the knowledge? Am I a danger to myself and society for knowing these things?

Do we need more evidence that our ideas that we live in a democracy are false?

I mean, sure, we have enough freedom of speech to sell tickets to the airing of secrets, but freedom of the press has apparently vanished beneath the concerns of advertisers and the censorious pen of editors.

What I’d like to critique about Nonfiction is the use of the image from Suicide Food, a blog which assembles the understandably morally outrageous and disgusting depiction of animals attempting to enjoy their fate as human meals.

Links below are to Clark’s somewhat amusing grumpiness about Nonfiction, Jesse Brown, and Search Engine. (Search Engine‘s site, btw, is linking to its eponymous Google Alert roundup, and saying this about Clark’s words:

Joe Clark of Toronto has some scathing words for us on his personal weblog (WARNING: some profanity).





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