gall and gumption

Monday, March 13, 2006

Silicon Alley Redux?

Just out of Columbia I actually had an interview with Jason Calacanis at the Silicon Alley Reporter. I could tell immediately that it did not take. I was not impressed with him and I rather doubt he was impressed with me. This was my first glimpse into the so-called dotcom world. I saw the sort of person who made me flinch when they showed up as students in my classes. Someone who would try to work the social angle of things, that is, try (and often quite successfully) to dominate his social environment, to his own advantage, while insisting on credit for great intellectual seriousness while never actually doing anything. Every year there were a couple of these. They seemed to favor the black jacket, as if they were practicing wearing a suit or going in for some decadent punk-based attempt at parodying T.S. Eliot's sartorial style. At any rate, the one consistency was they did not work. They yakked. They could not muster up even a decent appearance of being interested in literature, their writing was perfunctory but they wanted it considered great. Their greatness was either to be extorted out of you by nagging and whining or - less frequently - what passed with them for charm; or it was to come later when their genius had found its right soil for flowering. That right soil was usually a place where if "work" was the term for "aggressive, self-serving schmoozing, and impressing chicks with your profundity" yes, they'd be very busy indeed.

I can think of one former student of this type, manipulative, hostile, self-serving, hugely full of himself and a non-performer, whose main nourishment, apparently, was the ambrosia of female adoration, who fit right into this scene, and from the great heights of his current small notoriety, pronounces on the teachers who did or did not "appreciate" him.

So far my favorite writer on this era I think is Steve Gilliard, who is totally unillusioned about it.


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