Life and Times

“In these great times” is a line from the Austrian journalist Karl Kraus who is once again having a slight revival, this time due to the writer Jonathan Franzen. “In these great times,” Kraus ironically pronounced, “which I knew when they were this small …” – not so great, in other words. He was a famous crank of his times, curmudgeon, hater, firebrand, performer – I wonder now if he wasn’t a sort of intellectual Lewis Black, a sort of bitter comedian except that his jokes were on everybody else.

I bring this up in conjunction with an article I saw recently on Salon.com on the great success of “erotica” writer Selena Kitt. The greatness of this success is in being a female writer and self-publisher of hardcore porn that is popular with women readers and raking in a lot of money. These are truly great times indeed! What’s interesting to me about this is the confluence of factors that makes it possible. Take the same writer writing the same book and self-publishing twenty or even ten years ago, and you have no “success” whatsoever – partly because of the self-publishing opportunities unavailable then, the technology and the culture and the devices, but also partly because more women seem to be enjoying more and different kinds of porn now than previously.

In other words, there must be an alignment with the times in order for any kind of “success” or “greatness” to be achieved.

Or perhaps for anything at all to be achieved.

In one sense, this is what President Obama meant by his often misquoted “you didn’t build this” comment. It takes a village in order for a woman to make a gazillion dollars by writing steamy sex scenes. In another era, not so very long ago, there’s a chance she could have been imprisoned for peddling the exact same smut!

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