Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
If there's one iota of wisdom I remember from Reader's Digest's "Quotable Quotes," it's that good stories feature ordinary people doing extraordinary things or extraordinary people doing ordinary things. This model explains to me why superhero comics get so boring -- if everything's extraordinary, then nothing is -- and yet another reason why plotless character studies written after Jackson/Hemingway/Fitzgerald get on my nerves (more complaining here).
Fortunately, real life comes chock full of the ordinary/extraordinary reversals. And there's never been a better time to capture them. We mundanes document ourselves with blogs and cameras, strip-mining our lives for something memorable. And paparazzi hunt down the ordinary moments of celebrated characters so we can watch them get the paper or carry a garment bag from a car to a hotel.
By the way, I saw those Obama photos and remembered Leonard of five years ago:
My doomed attempt at a photo op to create a surge of populism for my gubernatorial campaign.
If Obama Pics Daily is any measure, Leonard just needed a better photographer (viz., someone other than me). (For more recontextualization foto fun, compare Kris's silly alterations to their sources. Or just make a macro of scary finger-wiggling Obama.)
The reason that Quotable Quote's been in my mind is because of John's hilarious account of his trip to a megarich client on a private jet, and our conversation about it last night. He said it was surreal and completely outside the realm of any experience he'd ever had before; he found himself asking, "Is this really happening?" And indeed, whenever I've heard truly joyous or terrible news, or undergone a remarkable experience, the biggest surprise is that it's taking place in the same context as the rest of my boring life. No soundtrack, no paparazzi, no preface, just time ticking by at one second per second the same as anywhere and anywhen else.
10 Oct 2008, 10:45 a.m.
14 Oct 2008, 20:01 p.m.
17 Oct 2008, 17:47 p.m.