Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas overkill

Its not just that you need to start preparing for Xmas earlier each year - its just that there's so many things to fit in before then. I've got a lot to do at work, including chairing a panel next Thursday night; we've got our Christmas party the following Tuesday; I've got to go visit my sister and see her newborn; I've got to get everyone's presents; I've got a hospital appointment; and I'm already exhausted! The idea that I might glug gluwein at the xmas market, catch a carol concert, read the Guardian's books of the year; watch "Bee Movie" or go to see the Pogues or any of those other perennial Christmas shows is laughable. Where do people find the time? The Christmas meals have been packing out the pubs all week; last night I was one of 10,000 seeing Ian Brown at the old GMex (yeah, I know its called Manchester Central, but nobody knows what that is!) and today has been a right-off as a result. I feel it should be wind-down time, but I'm just feeling a bit wound-up and exhausted. I haven't even thought about Christmas cards, or stamps, or wrapping paper or when's the last day to buy anything off Amazon. In fact I've still got my overnight bag unpacked from going down to Birmingham a couple of weeks ago. Has it been a good year? Too early to make those kind of assessments; head's still in a blur. As noted elsewhere, its probably the time of the year when you start thinking "I haven't got time to blog anymore!" At a recent event in Manchester, Will Hutton, speaking for the Work Foundation, talked about the different nature of creative economies, and the creative individuals that make them up. Until we can put a value on a writer, a musician, a creative, we won't really value what they are genuinely adding to the economy in the same way as a retailer or a manufacturer. Whether its me, Elizabeth Baines, or J. K. Rowling (i.e. the unpublished, the recently published and the massively successful), the monetary value can be anything from nothing to that of a small corporation. My "brand" - e.g. this blog etc. - might be utterly worthless, but we just don't know. There will somewhere be a blogging Kafka, asking for his executors to delete all his files (and being refused by the monolithic Google); and somewhere a blogging Keats, career stymied by a bad blog post. I would imagine the economic value of Kafka to Prague, Czech Republic, Europe and the world is probably more than say, BMW, - from the books themselves to the Kafka coffee shops, to the influence on other cultural artefacts, to the Kafka key rings and mugs, to the tourists and the airlines. How much "value" will the BBC's production of Cranford, add to the Cheshire tourist industry, for instance? Of course, there's too many wannabe poets, writers etc. but that's like saying there's too many banks, insurance companies etc. - overproduction is a symbol of a successful industry not a failed one. You could argue, that more should be published, in order to increase the chance of new brands coming up that can displace brand Harry Potter or brand Stephen Fry. Literature and pop music are the two art forms we are really good at (unlike, say, visual art or classical composition, at which our successes are fitful) and yet neither receives much in the way of public funds. Yet these are the things that we can be distinctive at; and, even if they don't go global, a local success (the 10,000 people at Ian Brown last night) is not only a real one, but one which can't easily be "imported". In other words, the knowledge economy requires putting a real value on creatives and creativity. That Santa Claus, for instance, what a brand he is!

1 comment:

joshua said...