The other morning when I was walking to work, I had a revelation—one of those revelations that is simply the voicing of something that you have known for a long time. I realized that the NewLights Press will never make enough money to be my primary source of income. This thought left me with two distinct feelings: disappointment and liberation. (The “disappointment” part was yesterday’s post, below. Today is liberation!)

Liberation: So how is the idea of being chained to another job to keep the NewLights Press going liberating? It’s simple, it’s the easiest thing in the world, it’s the old idea that without concern for financial gain, the artist (or company or whatever) is able to take risks and (hopefully) produce extraordinary work that they wouldn’t be able to if they had to worry about sales. For reference, see the life story of just about every avant-garde artist from the first half of the 20th Century. (I believe that good, innovative work, if done with deep commitment and regularly shown, will find an audience. The problem lies in lining up that audience with a market. They are not always the same thing.)

So if there’s another source of money, the press is free to do what it needs to do. But there is the counter-idea that the pressure of the market (of paying the rent) forces an artist to make work that is relevant, that is in a real dialogue with the contemporary world (or art world). There is some truth to that, if even through the negative example of those artist/professors that have been able to spend their time making completely uninteresting work because their academic position keeps them safe. So the question is, how does one find a balance between risk and security in order to keep the work vital? It is possible, I have seen it done. It comes back to that idea of making work with a deep commitment. It comes back to that intense, horizon-bound desire to be in conversation with, and to know more about, the world.

It’s the easiest thing in the world.

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