Yes, I’ve seen it. And no, I’m not all that thrilled.
I’ve known all along that Amazon pulled the name for their Kindle from the same Voltaire quote I took Like Fire from, and there’s certainly more than enough good bookish theory in that one little statement to go around. But I cringe at the idea that anyone who discovers this site after October 2011 will assume I got it from Amazon.
Some years ago I had a wonderful little Jack Russell terrier named Milo, just because I liked the way it sounded. Apparently I was the only person on the face of the earth who hadn’t seen the Jim Carrey movie The Mask, though, which had featured a Jack Russell terrier named Milo, because not a day went by when someone didn’t ask me if I’d named mine after that one. Aside from the fact that I’d never name a dog of mine after a movie dog, especially one he resembled—a Jack Russell named Cujo I could get behind, maybe—I found it insulting in a vague way that people would think I wasn’t original enough to come up with a good dog name of my own.
Similarly, it drives me a little nuts to think that people will imagine I lifted the concept from Jeff Bezos’ team of marketing geniuses. The Kindle may have predated Like Fire by two years, but Voltaire beat them both by 400. On the other hand, commercials have a relatively short half-life, and I might do well to just ignore the whole thing. If I’m going to set so much stock in Voltaire’s words, I can cherry-pick a few more for my purposes: We must cultivate our own garden.
And hey, maybe it’ll drive a little traffic our way. As our man also said, History never repeats itself. Man always does.