It’s a busy time of year for The Beat. While puddling around looking for an old link, I realized that it was July 2004 when I began this blog…8 years of sorta daily blogging, with some breaks for breakfast like today. In that time the act of link blogging has become a lot more time-consuming due to the literally, literally* exponential increase in sources, and the general rise in nerd culture with a concomitant rise in the attention paid to pop culture sites. Anyway, that was a roundabout way of saying whenever anyone asks me ‘how are you’, I say ‘Busy.’ And cartoonist Tim Kreider calls us on this with a piece called The ‘Busy’ Trap, which is also notable for being accompanied by a great illustration by Brecht Vandenbroucke</strong>.
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.
God knows we’d all like to move to the south of France and enjoy a simple life style, subsisting on rough crusts of bread and full fat milk, whilst hiking to our studios and
writing with a quill pen by candlelight, turning off the DSL connection. Our contentment might last until we hacked off our ears from boredom…or forever. We’ll never know because we’ll probably never get to move to the south of France.
At any rate, if I can just survive the next two weeks, Stately Beat Manor will seem like the south of France in comparison.
In the meantime, keep those cards and letter coming.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.