George & Me

     My fellow Americans,
     I bring you good news.
     Last week my novel jumped 260,000 places on the bestseller list.
     It really did.
     Two buddies bought 10 copies between them and the next day “The Violinist” jumped up into the low six figures on the chart.
     I feel like George W. Bush.
     Mission accomplished!
     Major combat operations against the publishing industry have ended.
     When Bob Kahn stands up, Ernie Hemingway can stand down.
     It’s all bullshit, I know – squeezing one tiny pimple of a fact into an enormous, gushing conclusion. But hey, what matters is not the judgment of history, nor who’s right and who’s wrong – it’s “How are we going to get through the day? Why should we bother to get up tomorrow?”
     If it takes bullshit to do it, well, bullshit is better than nothing.
     The difference between lies and bullshit, as Harry Frankfurt explained in his bestselling book, “On Bullshit,” is that liars have higher regard for the truth than bullshitters do. A liar cares what the truth is, so he can lead us away from it. A bullshitter doesn’t care what the truth is. It’s his absolute unconcern for the truth that makes it bullshit. (Frankfurt must be right about this because besides being a philosopher at Princeton, his book is 122,000 places ahead of mine.)
     Consider: I have written one book every 18 months for more than 30 years. In that time I have sold three books, and made about $3,000 from them.
     That comes out to about 3 cents a day.
     There is no rational reason for me to continue doing this – spending hours of my time, years of my life, writing books.
     But that’s what I want to do.
     So how do I make myself continue?
     With bullshit.
     Suppose that every day this year, two pals, patriotic Americans, continue to buy five copies apiece of “The Violinist.” Then I will earn about one-fourth as much as a minimum wage-earner makes sweeping floors, or mowing lawns, or squeezing the fat out of hog guts.
     To achieve these vile wages, I will need 728 more friends who have no more sense than the first two did. That’s not likely to happen.
     (By the way, I am not repeating the title of my book to use subliminal suggestion to make you buy it.) (Buy ‘The Violinist’!)
     I took this one insane fact – that my book jumped 260,000 places on a meaningless list – to persuade myself that things look better today than they did yesterday. And even though I know it is bullshit, I believe it. And it makes me feel better.
     I got through winter in the same way. When I went out to run in 19 degree wind and sleet, I told myself it was a great day for a run, that it was fun to be out there. I knew it was bullshit, but by the time I had run a few miles, I believed it, and when I got home and stood under a hot shower, I actually did believe that I had had a good time. Total bullshit – yet the consequence of believing my own bullshit was good for me.
     In this way, of course, I am not like George W. Bush. I am not pushing my bullshit onto anyone else – only onto myself – and when I believe my own bullshit, nobody dies.
     That’s too bad. America would be a better place if books could kill people.
     If it were so, I would write books called “Rush Limbaugh is Right!” and “How To Make $100 Million in Hedge Funds!” and “How Jesus Can Help You Get Elected to Congress!” Anyone who got to Page 2 of those puppies would die instantly of a sucking chest wound.
     Want to keep America safe from terrorists? Read my books. (‘The Violinist.’ Only $18.95! Prevents heart disease! Better sex! Lots of sex for you!)
     Thank you, my fellow Americans. And God bless River City Publishing.
     (Madonna read ‘The Violinist’! Then she had sex!)

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