They can hardly be called ‘aims and objectives’, having only emerged during the course of writing these entries; rather, these observations have come to the fore while proceeding with the writing. Even so, they may provide some insight into what this writing is for.
(1) How lyrical is the language of advertising, especially compared to matter-of-fact journalism in its long established forms. Advertising handles its characters with humour, affection, even tenderness. Whereas journalism has tended to dismiss the people featured in it: its peremptory tone has often served as their dismissal notice. Perhaps lyricism is permissible in advertising because the characters who appear in the adverts come with the authority of the commodities they are there to represent. This would mean that the discrepancy between peremptory journalism and lyrical advertising is a further example of the fetishism of commodities; yet another example of things taking precedence over people, with the latter only recognised as such insofar as they are also recognisably bearers of the former. High time, then, for journalists to write lyrics about the people in their stories, i.e. to write about them in a lyrical way; and, by this means, to address the absurdity of things-before-people, which is also how things really are.
(2) The New Journalism of the 1960s was just such an attempt – the lyrical austerity of In Cold Blood; the poetic violence of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It arose in reaction to the reification inherent in mainstream journalism, and took its place in the contemporary counter-culture. Subsequently re-titled ‘the journalism of attachment’, the same kind of long form journalism became part of the advocacy culture of the 1990s, calling for more intervention by Western elites rather than less. Aside from its political trajectory, however, the length of this long form journalism has always been problematic. Given the length of time it takes to write, it cannot keep up with the new: it can’t do the news. What’s needed is something which reaches similar levels of descriptive power, but in short form.
(3) As journalism has played a role in composing the public, so formal composition is how journalism comes to play this role. While journalism cannot by itself put the public back in publication, if journalists pay more attention to composition, especially in new forms, at least journalism will be fit to perform its historic purpose, whenever it is re-called to do so. Furthermore, without renewing the attention paid to composition, journalism will continue to decompose.
(4) Take 2 is the attempt to compose particular vignettes of our common humanity using current source material made available by digital technology. It works by association: these words have been formulated thus, in the attempt to show the associations between writer, reader, and the people featured in my stories. I only hope it works.