Dave Eggers (& Me) on Selling Out

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

Dave Eggers (emphasis added)


Dave Eggers was asked about selling out. His response (reprinted here) is long and windy and ends up being deeply rewarding… like everything I’ve ever read from the guy.

I come from a culture of sell-out seekers. We longed to write off anyone that smelled like money or main stream success.

I see now 2 things:

1. I wanted what I listened to to be cool because of what it said about me. It had little to do with the insights or spirit or heroics of the artists I was championing… it had a lot to do with my identity issues.

2. I said money and success but what I meant was greed. This is something Dan Harmon helped me understand in his (absolutely fucking stellar) XOXO talk. Success (financial or artistic or main stream) is not greed. Greed is something real and dangerous and terrible, but don’t make the mistake of equating it with success.