Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Images, Not Words

Occasionally, I try to teach writers the value of closing scenes with images, rather than a line of dialog.  This morning, as I was having my coffee, I came across this quote from someone who can speak more eloquently about the power of images than I ever can.

"And you who claim to demonstrate by words the shape of a man from every aspect of his membral attitudes, dismiss such an idea, because the more minutely you describe, the more you will confuse the mind of the reader and the more you will lead him away from a knowledge of the thing described.  Therefore it is necessary both to illustrate and describe." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

This quote appeared in the opening of a chapter in a book called Field Notes on Science & Nature, edited by Michael R. Canfield.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Eyes On The Ball, People

What passes for a new year's resolution for me is more like a general intention to do something.  This year, it wasn't to lose weight, or to be a better person, or to clean the house, because I like selecting somewhat attainable goals so I can, you know, feel good about myself while ignoring those unattainable goals like losing wei-- well, you get the picture.  This year, I want to keep up with reading the paper along with the news and magazine webs I cull from the internet.  A modest goal.

So far, so good, but it's only been about two weeks, so I can't really pat myself on the back, yet.  What I can do, though, is highlight the stuff I don't really give a shit about but that seems to dominate the news.  Should you care?  Maybe not, because it's just one guy's opinion, right?  I don't expect us to agree on everything, but the point of this is that you should always be questioning the media you consume.  Here's the current list:

  1. Tim Tebow.  Seriously?  A mediocre athlete gets front page coverage in the New York Times because of his very public religious worship.  
  2. Republican debates.  It's like watching monkeys fight over bananas.  The only thing less interesting is the endless churning coverage on the TV news.
  3. Penn State.  Joe Paterno behaved poorly on a number of counts.  People who need their jobs a lot more than he did lose them every day.  Move on, alums.  Rebuild your institution on a better model.
  4. iPads in the classroom. This is going to revolutionize education?  Sure it is.
  5. Catholic School Closings. I feel sorry for the kids who are going to have to find a new school, but not for the institutions.  If we spent this much effort on public schools, your neighbors would be freaking out.
That's the tip of the iceberg, by the way, but you should be asking: why is this anything more than a personal rant?  Because these stories are a bit like stage magic: they're mis-direction which draws your attention away from the really important stuff.  Like our economy.  Like the clear evidence that Iraq is collapsing and that we have officially flushed the last 10 years of money, blood, and effort down the drain. Like our trade deficit with China.  Like climate change.  Like income disparity.  See what I'm talking about?

Keep your eyes on the ball, before it nails you between the eyes.