Why You Should Ask for Stuff

Recently, I read Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. I found it's an interesting book -- in part, because I relate to it. For much of her life, Palmer is relentlessly autonomous. A solo hustler, she works as a living statue to pay the bills, and it's this job that teaches her what people really want, which is, in her mind, to be seen. (I concur.) The trouble starts when she: gets famous, marries a rich and famous guy, and gets pregnant. In theory, the latter two fail to fit with her gypsy lifestyle. So, the narrative follows her as she attempts to have it all: her own life and a connected life. I hear you, sister. The best thing about the book is Palmer's seeming fearlessness (of course, reality is more complicated than that), whether it's stage diving, leaving her recording label behind, or asking her fans to fund her album (they coughed up $1M). There's also an unexpectedly moving anecdote in which on a particularly shitty day she inadvertently ends up getting a massage from one of her online haters. In a way, there's something repellant about Palmer's hustle. You cringe when she asks for things, makes a spectacle of herself, writes a poem that gets blasted as an homage to a domestic terrorist. Then you realize that what you're creeped out by is your own inability to ask for what you want. It's amazing how much our culture pathologies asking for things. One gathers there's nothing Palmer won't ask for -- that said, it turns out accepting that for which you have asked is another challenge altogether. Inspiring.

Support my work! Buy THE TUMOR: "one of the weirdest, smartest, most disturbing things you will read this year."