Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the perks of being a wallflower

i'm currently reading the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky. right now i'm on page 56. the only time i really have to read for fun is at night before bed. it helps me wind down from a day spent online exposed to countless tweets, status updates, and blog posts. my day to day communication and storytelling typically fits into a 3 - 5 minute window. so it's quite refreshing to get wrapped up into a story that will take a few hours of reading over the course of several days, maybe even weeks to finish. so far i really like the style of this book, written in a series of letters from charlie to an anonymous reader. it makes me want to start writing my own book. anyway, i want to share one of my favorite passages from the book as of now:

"it's like he would take a photograph of sam, and the photograph would be beautiful. and he would think that the reason the photograph was beautiful was because of how he took it. if i took it, i would know that the only reason it's beautiful is because of sam.

i just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. and i think it's bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera. it's very hard for me to see sam feel better about herself just because an older boy sees her that way." - p. 48 - 49
this passage really struck me personally. i have felt this way about myself before - that my value and self-esteem were based on how someone saw me through a camera lens. compositions or recordings that may or may not have reflected my true self. but it was the way i was portrayed to someone or some audience. cameras are not to be trusted, or i should say the person operating the camera is not to be trusted...actually, the person in front of the camera is not always to be trusted, either: a photographer, videographer, actor, host...OK, any person in general...decides how and what to show. the results can be brutally honest or a complete lie. ultimately we're all storytellers and try to have control over how others perceive us - including our own self-perception. convincing our own minds that people, experiences, places really were one particular way when maybe they weren't. we all know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". and that is true - but whose words? a photo can inspire a thousand different stories, but how do we know which one is true? we can get an impression of a person, of an event, of a place based on a single moment, a particular angle, one look out of hundreds, that may or may not truly represent that thing. but we will automatically invent a story around it and feel some kind of emotional reaction to it because of our own personal experiences and paradigms. i wonder how many impressions we have of someone, or some thing, that are true vs. false based on photographs/videos.

those are my ramblings for the night...what are your thoughts? share them here on the dealio.


  1. To your point, have you ever heard of the first experiments in editing? Some russian editor made an exercise, making a sequence out of an image of a man looking at the camera, a cofin, a girl and bowl of soup. Different permutations made him look hungry, sad for the death of a loved one, or worried about the girl. The man's shot were always the same. Context and choices in timing made the images move you in a different way. It is powerful, dangerous, and misleading. I find it fascinating.
    We are a collections of "selves", our own perception of ourselves, the perception others have of us, and the real "self". Neon Genesis Evangelion, a Japanese cartoon I loved growing up, had this explanation of self, and I always found it absolutely brilliant, and disturbingly true. How many times do we surprise/disappoint ourselves or others because we are capable of more/less than what we or others thought we could?The trinity weighs in every time.
    There are 2 recurring themes in your posts on twitter lately, thought process and storytelling, I wonder what are you up to. Have you thought, or reflected on how important it is for us as upper primates the fact that we exchange knowledge thru oral tradition/media instead of being born with genetic memory as other animals? Do you think there could be a link on how our psyche works, how we insist in leaving a mark by passing on knowledge/things we build since it is hardcoded on how we develop ourselves?

  2. @gaston - i think about that all the time...this is a great comment you left. thank you. i like the trinity concept. it is seemingly the goal of everyone's existence. to leave behind a mark. a story. it fascinates me because i think its what motivates people on a daily basis whether they're aware of it or not. everyone wants a story to tell. for some people it seems very clear as to what that story is or will be in the end and they live their lives to fulfill that story (as much as possible, obviously, we don't have complete control over the course of our lives)...and to others the story is stuck in their minds and they are trapped. i just love thinking about people and why we are the way we are and why we do what we do...

  3. I am not so sure everyone wants to leave a personal mark on things, I do believe we all want to be a part of something greater than ourselves, and to that I think the feeling of nationality, religion, and belonging have so much meaning to people.
    Not every human being has the capacity to paint as Leonardo, to direct actors and editors like Spielberg or to compose like Mozart. But we can all try to be a great at what we do, and one day look back and say "I help doing that". I love being the silent observer, I often miss working by myself (I am not passing on judgement to anyone, but somehow I miss the speed of being able to stir the boat in whatever direction I pleased) and yet I have found myself caught in this "trap" of feeling or knowing I am doing something as a part of a team and we are "mighty". In the past few months I have found myself trying to relate to the feelings of nationality, pride on my team, and closer to my family than I ever was. Something is definitely changing in me, and I hope is for the better, since my relationship with attachment usually ends in a lot of pain. And just like you, I keep on wondering lately why am I drawn to it.