The Science Of Begging

The last 24 hours:

A recent acquaintance wrote to me about an Exciting Event taking place about 90 minutes away from me. How lovely!, I thought. I never get invited to things. And I wasn’t. I was instead being asked for a list of interesting people who they could invite to the event. I wasn’t invited.

A stranger wrote to me on behalf of an author I met some years ago, about review copies of their new book. How lovely!, I thought. I love books. But I wasn’t getting one. I was instead being asked for a list of interesting people who they could send copies of the book to. I wasn’t getting one.

An old acquaintance wrote to me. How lovely!, I thought. I haven’t heard from them in years. But I wasn’t, really. It was a spam message going out to a list of everyone they’d ever written to, a pile of contacts scraped out by an assistant. The message did in fact state that I may not have heard from them in years, and in fact may never hear from them again, but nonetheless exhorted me to pollute my social media channels with plugs for their book. Which I haven’t read.

The art of asking is alive and well, it would seem. I totally understand its place in the combat zone of attention economics. But I do hope that people actually get good at it soon.  Or at least learn not to make each other feel like agalmic vending machines.  That turns the practise of agalmia into a zero-sum game that leads to petty and charmless posts like this one.

Reading: IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET, Eugene Thacker (UK) (US)