PS: Choppy, Directionless and Strident

October 25, 2009

There are some books that I have seen frequently in book stores over the years that I know I will never read. Dianetics is one such book. I have no particular reason to read or not to read these books, but if I’m honest about it, I know that I’m not ever going to read them.

These are all books that One Ought To Read, if one wishes to be a Very Well-Rounded Person. I’m sure you could come up with your own list of books in this category. Another category of such books are the ones that are Just Too Absurd. Life of Brian would be one of these. The Companion to Oliver Stone’s “JFK” would be another or Zen and the Art of Black Helicopter Maintenance. A new addition I would make to my version of that list would be the latest by the “most prolific scholar in the history of copyright” (who is, in case you don’t know, Google VIP Patry. I think we can call him The Most Prolific Scholar for short, or perhaps “PS”).

From what I can gather, the upshot of PS’s book is that it is a hierarchical and status driven look at works of authorship and the laws that once protected them. According to PS, creators do not innovate, only innovators innovate, which is kind of a silly con if you remember things like jazz. But then jazz probably doesn’t count, because as we know art doesn’t scale.

Maybe multitrack recording might count? That at least involves a machine that has a carbon footprint, so Googlers should feel right at home. But wait–the innovation of multitrack recording (on which the entire modern recording industry is based, including Protools) is an invention generally attributed to…Les Paul. (For all you Silly Cons out there, and especially you Very Silly Cons, Les Paul was a…guitar player.) As usual with occupants of the Googleplex there are no dogs or actors allowed into the hierarchy so we will just define guitar player innovators out of the definition.

Now some may criticize me for only focusing on “bad” reviews–or as they may say in the Googleplex, “ungood”–and that may be, but PS has Google and all we have are each other.

Others have noticed the new one by PS, too. Tom Sydnor has a second installment of his “Worthless Book” review, an excellent critique of the PS book that is a delicious read, a fantastically 3 star feast for the truth.

And I’ve also read a PS review of interest by Jonathan Handel in the Los Angeles Times who observes: “Patry’s stature makes ‘Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars’ an ‘important’ book. Unfortunately, what the book delivers is a choppy and directionless narrative, sometimes illuminating but too often scattershot, unoriginal and strident.”

I don’t know as I agree that he’s “strident,” I probably would have said “oozing”. That’s what happens when the bile is so full and pungent it can’t quite get out quickly enough, it just kind of oozes into the sunlight like a vomitous marsh. But “directionless” sounds about right. Then again, not only have I not read the book, I know that I’m not going to read the book.

Just like I know I’m not going to read Dianetics.

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