I find in life that I have exceptions to the broadest of rules. For example, while I ordinarily am of the "let's plant native prairie plants wherever we can make them grow" school of thought (and, lately, go so far as to say "let's give the Caddo Indians back a solid parcel of land in Northeast Texas"), I make plant exceptions for two exotic invaders of long-standing, the wonderful hardier-than-Lou-Gehrig crape myrtle tree and the under-appreciated but unforgettable pink-blooming "live fast, die young" mimosa tree. I make, for that matter, reparation exceptions in that I would not give back to any original owners the Tyler Rose Garden, any of a dozen east Texas BBQ stands or the fishing dock on Lake Cooper, near Sulphur Springs, Texas. I might even keep Park Hill Prairie, on a lend/lease basis.
Similarly, I do not often sing the praises of corporate salespersonship. I lack any strong anti-corporate instincts, as I believe that corporations are a workable form for doing business. But I figure that they do a good enough job of promoting themselves. Leave the dead to bury the dead, there is dulcimer to be played and chess to be gamed.
Yet in this stance I find an exception worth noting. This is eBay. For on eBay I find that I can perform works of fun and ingenuity. More precisely, eBay lets me sell roughly as silly as I please. Certainly, once in a while I forget to make sure the s & h in the ad matches the s & h at the bottom of the page. This can "early terminate" an auction. There are a few other such niggling rules, each reasonable and fair. Still, by and large, I have managed to wrack up a 225-0 positive feedback record, although many of my sales are my own work of personal whimsy, my poems--"Chess Poems for the Tournament Player".
I owe a charming LiveJournal "real poet" a copy of this in the mail, which I intend to get mailed on Monday. So I decided to write an advertisement for my chess poem book for yet another eBay sale.
I see eBay ads as not just garage sale notes. I see them as statements of personal philosophy--as expressions of product-as-credo. Never mind that the sales records for elaborate, well-thought-out ads roughly equal those for ads which run: "chess poem book. 33 pages. 3 dollars". I am out not only to transform the customer--I am, in the art of writing silly copy, out to transform myself.
Today's ad is more elaborate than my usual, but illustrates the point:
My goal is to communicae not only that I have a book worth reading, but that my book is part of a personal life's philosophy--a world built on kindess, gentility, and bad poetry about chess.
Do I achieve my goal? I don't know. Is it fun to try? Yes.
I think this is an internet contagion, now spreading. I heard today a wonderful commercial for Overstock.com, which usually offers last year's electronics at a slight premium over what should be last year's price. I buy obsolete but workable things becuase they are inexpensive, not because they are "overstocks".
But today, I heard an ad about how overstock.com is helping local people in other countries to post their work on their site for more direct sales. I deeply approve of this, as far too money makes it into middle hands while far too little money makes it into craftsfolk's hands. So I see this as a flicker of hope for personal whimsy in action. Let's hope that somewhere, a farmer buys a chess set with the profits, and begins to play.