Page 8


Rod Davis is a former editor of the Observer. D E Why, then, are our writers in the economic position Frances extremely effective means of dividing and conquering. Content Fitzgerald famously described as “cheap intellectual labor?” Be providers and other home workers can’t really confront the power cause the economic elites of Texasthe eight-hundred-pound go of the managers and accountants. There aren’t any brawls in the rilla to whom the “invisible hand” really belongsmake the back digital office, because there is no office. There aren’t many blacks water an enduring presence. Rio Grande Valley or browns, either. Why should there be? The only place minorities agri-conglomerates, High Plains industrial ranches, Houston banks have edged into the Texas media at all is in broadcast, because ratand hospitals, Dallas/Fort Worth multinational corporate head ings depend on image, and if you’re selling products to black or quarters, Amarillo chambers of commerce, Austin lobbyists, brown folk you got to put up some nonwhite reporters. Newspaelected bagmenthe real Web of Texashave pressed their archpers do this to an extent, to fend off discrimination suits. Maga conservative ideological tableau into every sanctuary of whiteand zines are virtually lily-white across the board. In print, nobody sees blue-collar life. the faces of your staff, and cyberspace is similarly “color blind.” But in a world informed by The Bell Curve, color blind means / nterlocked with these other elites like tongues in a French kiss, the media, in turn interlocked via cross-ownership made easier by the Clinton administration and GOP Congress, have little to porters stand to lose even more ground. Euphoria over the “free color absent. In the cyber-future, black and brown writers and re dom” of the on-line future needs to be tempered with considerable gain by calling attention to the Big Lie that fires the whole smarmy distrust of the gatekeepers and the gates they keep. There he goes barbecue. So they don’t. And they don’t like writers who do, and againtypical writer, always complaining, always the malcontent. writers who don’t aren’t writers. They are poodle-noodles and sales One, two, many malcontents! Who else but the dissatisfied to reps. They are agents of break the silence of the the national security PLANNED FOR US IS THE FATE OF CO WBOYS, FARMERS, AND SMALL TOWN violence, to say the fix state, Texas division. BUSINESSES WITHIN DRIVIN G DISTANCE OF A WAL-MART. is in, so that when it If what I believe is isn’t, we can be be true, that of each thing comes its counterpart, then the fate of the lieved. The fate of the Texas writer is to prevail. At some level, I Texas writer may yet evolve a measure of greatness proportional to still think we have to. We all have a role in our fate. Our fate is the pogrom. I believe in dialectics, in balance, in yin and yang, in made as we go along. That’s why it’s fate, not immutable law. payback. What seemed so close at hand after Brammer and Mc What can be done? Mao said, never fight a battle you can’t win, beMurtry, and then the first explosions of Gary Cartwright \(now cause you lose. I say: Win. I say: Write. I say that is our fate. TM was truly This isn’t about personalities. It isn’t about awards. But when I something, pushing past the vastly overrated humdrum of local confront questions of endurance I come to one name: Cormac Mccolor minstrels like Dobie and Graves, might come back. It might Carthy. I don’t know him or have much idea of his politics or valbreak forth again simply because there is too much here to tell and ues other than what is expressed in his work, and that’s the way I too much talent to tell it and even Prozac journalism cannot stop it. like it. He doesn’t do gossip columns, doesn’t write about breast It must also survive the future. Computers and digital technol implant chic, probably doesn’t even know what Netscape or Java ogy are the next wave of “public prints.” In some ways this opens are. He is sealed off in El Paso, rewriting an entire timeline and the dialogue between writer and reader as never before; but the landscape; or, as the aboriginals of Australia would have it, singing same forces which corralled and then impoverished writers in print it into existence. I think he is the best of us, and an enigma. Some will do the same thing in the electronic word, only more efficiently. times I envy him, sometimes I don’t. I like it that he probably does Indeed, despite its anarchistic origins, the Internet has been ab n’t have to think about any of this, that he’s beyond it. I wish more sorbed into the white noise marketplace almost without a trace of of us could end up that way. its original form. The development of software and computers has always been corporate in nature and conservative in ideology. Waxahachie-based Jayne Loader, co-producer of The Atomic Cafe and whose iconoclastic Web site, “Public Shelter,” has been widely praised as one of the best things on the Information Tollway, was rebuffed by virtually every major software developer when she attempted to distribute her own new, award-winning CDROM. Other clues: Disney’s takeover of ABC, booting out people like Jim Hightower; Microsoft’s merger with NBC \(to what ends on-line news. “What they’re really looking for,” a respected Dallas on-line producer said of the Big Software Company I had talked to, “are really straight management types to run the place and keep a lid on things. I’ve seen a lot of this lately. It’s disturbing.” The decentralization brought by the computer, and seemingly ideal for writers, is, when mediated through corporate ownership, also an JULY 26, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9