What are words for?

An encounter with a budding tech impresario prompts elegiac thoughts on the decline and fall of New York’s old publishing empires.  Michael Wolff’s GQ column actually appeared last summer, but I only discovered it this week via his Twitter feed. It’s one of those pieces you just have to share, regardless of the dateline:

“She’s raised a lot of money,” said my friend. “She’s really on the verge of making it happen.” 

The technology girl, with her app that lets college girls create public profiles of college boys, lives in London now, but is moving to New York with her business…. Her ability to assume a position of primacy, privilege and inevitability for her asinine and foolish app seemed suddenly like an inversion of the natural order. Her absolute certainty that I would be interested in her app was, at that moment, unfathomable – and cruel. The sums she was collecting, investments from this or that parvenu, were itemised in pornographic detail.

She described herself as a “publisher” – a merciless, insensitive, barbarous, appropriation of the word and profession. And an “entrepreneur” – which means, I have come to decipher, “I am the future.”  […]

“What I want to do is find writers in New York, comedy writers would be good, I think, to help us create our profiles – we like to give our girls the words to use. That’s part of the app’s function. We supply the words,” she said…

I went home and, gripped by sadness, fear and nameless regret, lay down to try to calm my pounding heart, and, I believe for the first time, fully understood – furious with myself for having denied the obvious for so long – that there will be nothing left. We had a world, an empire, and now we don’t.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: www.facebook.com/clive.davis.10 Instagram: clivephotos
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