Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Angels want to wear my red shoes


The title of today's piece refers to the Elvis Costello song. And my context for it is so that you will think of the line:

"I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused."

I was going to leave the title as a subtle inference for you to find on your own, a little easter egg for those of you who pore over clerkmanifesto, but I had a crisis of faith. Who here is poking among the grasses at the edge of my daily column looking for eggs?

Here's what I want to talk about:

I think its funny when I look up the Amazon reviews for some book or movie or game, and among all the plot recaps and "this is my favorite book about Uruguayan squirrels ever written!" and "The actors seem like they aren't acting, like they really are the people they're playing, but in a bad way." I come to someone who instead of reviewing the "art", almost meaninglessly, reviews the product or "seller":

"The DVD came in its plastic shrinkwrap, but the shrinkwrap was looser than I like. The case had a good heft to it though."


"Arrived on time and in the condition as described. Not damaged except for a corner of the box it came in. Would buy from Amazon again."

These kinds of reviews used to bug me. They were so unhelpful. But while looking up reviews for the book "The Essential Harlan Ellison" not long ago, not long ago at all, I came across one of these reviews of the binding, or delivery time, or whatever it was, and instead of being, well, disgusted, I was... amused. 

The days where I want people to do the right thing on the Internet are over.

The Internet is broken. No one does the right thing on the Internet anymore. And this kind of, I don't know- what I would have called simpleton naivety regarding sharing on the Internet, just seems kind of cosy, like it speaks nostalgically to a more innocent time when we were all in it together for the selfless joy of the glorious World Wide Web craft project.

I say "nostalgically" because I'm pretty sure that innocent time never existed, but still, it almost might have. I mean, Wikipedia exists.

And, as an addendum, really, what do I want from all these reviews anyway? 

I had to think about it. 

But only for a few seconds. 

I came up with this:

I read reviews looking for an excuse not to read a book, or, and I hardly dare to admit to my foolish dreams, the inspiration to do so.

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