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WOID #VII-1. Too Late the Philanthrope

           See The Exhibition Online, And Order Your Catalog.

[This is the last WOID of the dying year - or more accurately, the
first of the year a-birthing. I will be away until January 10, checking
out the Mayas and their writing system.]

Two weeks ago some folks here held a Walk for Capitalism. I hope they
find a cure some day...

Capitalism is the new charity. Medieval rabbis used to argue that the
best kind of giving was that in which neither the giver nor the givee
knew the other. The worst was giving which was about making the giver
feel good. We're moving from a) to b).

In Christian Theology there is a distinction between the Gospel of
Works and the Gospel of Faith. Gospel of Faith: you go up to the beggar
and tell him you love him. It's the thought that counts. Gospel of
Works: you give the beggar a buck because it's the right thing to do.
Even if you don't like the beggar. Especially if you don't like the
beggar. Follow the Gospel of Works: avoid gifts that serve only the

Passionate intensity is easy when you know where you're going, so long
as where you're going is the same old same old. For decades leftists
spoke of the Revolutionary Moment, the point where things lie in
shambles, and opportunity comes. This is that moment, but it's a time
for difficult decisions with long-term consequences, like a hundred-
year chess game. "The best lack all convictions while the worst..."

I heard recently that outraged librarians had posted a "wall of shame,"
a list of publishers and their books that fall apart after one or two
readings. I'm proud to say the Orange Press was not on that list. Of
course, most American libraries buy from an approved list of books by
an approved list of publishers working within an approved, antiquated
system of production, reviewing and distribution which ensures that
publishers have a market ready-made for them, so it's not about books
at all, or about readers. On Orchard Street they tell you about the
pants with three legs: those ain't pants you wear, those are pants you
buy, you sell. In other parts of New York they call this "Jobs for
White Folk". Actually, that's a name for the Welfare system. One hand
giveth and another hand taketh. Avoid.

Thirty years ago I started the Orange Press in order to produce and
distribute a book - a Vietnamese folk-tale I'd translated to raise
funds for the anti-war effort. At the time it seemed ridiculous to
publish through the usual channels: I'd be raising more money for bombs
than for bandages to fix the damage caused by the bombs in the first
place, and where would that leave us?. Thirty years later it still
looks like a good idea: probe the new technologies for a tear in the
system of cultural distribution.

And perhaps this would be charity enough: transcending the alienation
of work, the separation between feeling good and doing good. Avoid the
Welfare System, if you can. At either end of the trough.

Happy Holidays!

Paul T Werner, New York

WOID: A journal of visual language

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