Jan 17 2017
The strangest thing happened to me the other night: I fell asleep listening to a political science lecture (that’s me trying to embrace the 5-hour rule) and I was briefly roused by my husband throwing a blanket over me. Then I fell right back to sleep and dreamt we were moving out and having a huge fight over our different packing styles, which so inflamed me that I woke up ready to throw something at him. It’s fascinating to me that the dream felt so real, while I couldn’t be sure I hadn’t imagined the blanket incident. Who needs augmented reality to mess with boundaries?
Anyway, the 5-hour rule is about taking five hours in a week (an hour a day) to learn, experiment, reflect, and grow. I’m not quite ready to plunge into a book that will be emotionally or intellectually taxing, but I’ve been bringing light reads out with me, such as this late Christmas present from Alf, which I really like. It makes even the most casual things that Warhol did seem intentional–for instance if he wore shades for photobooth snaps, it was to deny the audience intimacy. Yet it quotes Warhol as saying:
If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.
There were other familiar names in the book, like the Velvet Underground and Roland Barthes, whom I had to read back in grad school. Apparently Barthes said that a great photo includes detail that seems out of place, an “accident” which “pricks” but also “bruises.” This quote was introduced in relation to Warhol’s Marilyn portraits, the focus being her act of gritting her teeth, which I’d never noticed before. It also cited an art critic saying that the Marilyn portraits revealed “what is truly human and pathetic in one of the exemplary myths of our time.”
Since this is the age where we’ve all gained some measure of fame, reading the book also led me to think about the way we portray ourselves to the world, or at least, to our social media contacts. I do find myself interpreting what people post, which is why I delete my own so quickly! I’m guilty of over-sharing, but my saving grace is that I don’t take any of it seriously. I don’t believe social media posts deserve a long lifespan, often for me, a couple of hours, or even minutes is sufficient, just for me to get it out there. I like the idea that my Facebook friends see different snippets from my life entirely by chance, and no one will ever get to compare notes because my timeline is almost empty. If I’ve left something there, it’s because I feel it hasn’t outgrown its usefulness.
I read an article over the weekend that I found amusing, it’s about Trump’s articulacy, or lack of it, and how it draws people to him:
Trump uses a pretty small working vocabulary. This doesn’t seem to be a conscious strategy, though it works as well as if it had been. Much was made during primary season of the way in which reading-level algorithms (unreliable though they are) found his speeches pitched at fourth-grade level, ie the comprehension of an average nine-year-old.
It reminds me of my girlfriend’s observation that her dad has the online persona of a 13-year-old girl, complete with heart emojis. I don’t think I have a better working vocabulary, to be honest! And when I’m sharing I keep it simple–I have just slightly over 100 friends on Facebook and I’m not trying to impress anyone, there are enough people doing that, and doing it well. I think of it as first and second level; if a friend engages me in the comments, I’m more likely to think before I type. Such interactions are meaningful to me, and I’ve had friends tell me they read the comments on my posts too, or that they recognise the main players in my life, which I think is sweet. See, it pays to use small words!
p.s. The article also mentions malapropisms. Those are the sneaky errors that every proofreader hates having to weed out. I’m glad that season of my life is over.