Bartleby Willard has decided to move into The Wandering Albatross Press Building and begin writing for Wandering Albatross Press. We at WAP are extremely busy capturing, reflecting, and refracting the infinite worlds swirling outside and inside of us. As such, we do not have the excess time, energy, and focus required to explain to Bartleby that you cannot just walk into publishing houses and declare yourself a live-in staff-writer. Also, on the whole we find him pleasant. Furthermore, since he sleeps on the WAP premises, it is easy for him to have the coffee ready when the rest of us arrive at about 8:00 a.m. sharp each weekday.
Finally, he is very tidy and has adopted the kitchen and library, making these two ancient and wise rooms (if places can be considered “wise”—and why not?: what’s a human being but a place for the Something Deeper to live in and through?) sparkle with a youthful and nearly (I said “nearly”!) sexual vigor. I hasten to add that he’s achieved this sparkle without compromising either room’s fundamental decency. Kitchen and Library now have more energy—giggles bubble up more often; and the infinitely expanding and all-enveloping universes born of these giggles pop with infinitely long elastic/filmy/wet kisses with a louder and fuller “smauack!” than before—but their essential kindness remains very much intact.
Bartleby is writing a series of short stories entitled Love at a Reasonable Price. He’s become interested in a kind of funny idea: manufacturing Pure Love (love that is prior to feelings and ideas and that infinitely accepts, lifts-up, cares-for, helps, and gives) in a fictional factory, transferring that Pure Love into reality, and selling It affordably yet still profitably on the open market. “And voilà: the first truly useful business in human history!”
We at WAP understand that you cannot manufacture Pure Love in fictional factories, transport It into reality, and then market and sell It to other people. Additionally, we are not even sure that if you could, you should. But! of course you can’t. Anyway, Pure Love already gives Itself infinitely to everyone and everything, so selling it is even more ridiculous than selling air or that delicious self-dom sensed as you gaze out at nothingmuch, watching your own watching grow quiet and sharp.
Does Bartleby know all this? Mmm. He seems to consider this project of his a joke. However, he takes jokes amazingly seriously, so seriously that one is tempted to say, “That man believes in jokes! My God! He really does!”.
Let’s you and I resolve to be reasonable, to let him have his fun but hunker way down into the wholesome knowledge that no one—not even the elastically spinning Bartleby Willard of the poignantly explosive Wandering Albatross Press—sells Pure Love.
But what wares does Bartleby, with his face soot-smudged and his old tin cup looped into his thick leather belt, peddle? Some stories about manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pure Love. And some other stories. And by “stories” we mean whatever Bartleby means by “stories.” And Bartleby Williard is not much of a literalist.
Bartleby will write what he writes and we’ll keep a running tally in the “Chapters” section.
And so it began, years and years ago now. I kept falling this way and that, but–one end of a thick, scratchy, fraying rope around my waist and the other anchored to a vaguely evolving plan–my staggering went round and round this project, winding me into it more and more; and now it’s time to push my long imaginary hands against the rusty iron bars (square staves twisted like drill bits) and shudder as the forgotten manor gate swings wide open with a piercing shriek or a mournful, yawning three-stage creak; or just squeaks a little forward and then, overgrown with vines not just emotionally but physically as well, bounces back at me.
I hope the project goes well. I hope it is good for writer, reader, and the space between. I appreciate you spending money, time, and focus on this book; I’ll try to make it worth your while.
June 17, 2015, 7:35pm
Midtown Manhattan Library
PS: I think I’ll alternate stories of making, manufacturing, advertising, and selling Pure Love with stories about my life and times at WAP.
Oh, and this one more time:
But insofar as this is a commercial venture, we still need it fundamentally grounded not in profit-motive, but in kind-delight. So cross your fingers for us; say a prayer for us; keep a gentle but stern, a wary but hopeful eye on us. Help us to try.
Afternote: What is this? It is an introduction to the “Love at a Reasonable Price” blogbook project. The bulk of it was written ages ago–absolutely lightyears ago! And then BW tacked on that extra bit while pausing his commotion at the Midtown Manhattan Library some gently warm June eve. Originally, it was just in the evolving ebook, but now it is here up on the worldwide web for the widest possible audience. We’re slowly putting together two ebooks titled “Love at a Reasonable Price” and “Diary of an Adamant Seducer”. Access to the ongoing attempt can be found here: Buy the Books. For a list of what we’ve currently posted in “Love at a Reasonable Price”, go here: Intro to Love at a Reasonable Price; for a list of what so far constitutes “Diary of an Adamant Seducer”: Intro to Diary of an Adamant Seducer.