Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Big Brother

Photograph by Anastas Michos
My friend Tas took this photo. It's part of his New York City subway series. Those eyes looking right at you, just perfect. This is the city in which I live. These are the platforms my loved ones travel across every day. I am always astonished and thrilled by the way true artists see. I could have stood in this same spot and not perceived what he did. I could have tried to take this picture and not understood to crop it in just this way.

The photograph reminds me of George Orwell's 1984, which might be a loose metaphor for the way our culture is evolving. But I don't want to talk about Wikileaks. I'm still working out what I think about all that.

Something sort of related: I saw the movie The Social Network with my out-of-town relatives last weekend, and I keep thinking about Mark Zukerberg, the kid at Harvard who founded Facebook. He has disputed how he's portrayed in the movie, and I am not in a position to know what is true. Still, I suspect the movie tells a version of the truth, which is that this Jewish kid, brilliant and brusque, borderline Aspbergers, felt deep in his marrow like a social outsider and created a network to impress girls and give the finger to the entitled rich white boys who snubbed him.

He may have been manipulated by Sean Parker, the Napster founder who single handedly crushed the retail aspect of the record industry, who was cannier and greedier than Zukerberg for sure. But this outcast kid from the most exclusive bastion of entitlement in the nation, feeling the pain of being different, his sense of his own superiority frustratingly unheralded, transformed the world. He changed forever the way people communicate and share information, all so he could tell a few people who wouldn't acknowledge the power he felt within himself, Fuck You. 

You just never know where inspiration might show up. It is never all sweetness and light. It is more often darkness and sorrow and fury and anxiety and pain. The trick, I suppose, is to turn the hurt into something creative and ultimately cathartic. It's a neat trick when you can manage it.


  1. You know, I've often said that if you want your kids to be great artists, fuck 'em up us much as you can.
    I am only partially joking when I say this.

  2. Fabulous image! Yes, very Orwell. My daughter lives in Manhattan and knows the subways well.

  3. I have to admit, I am scared to look within my darkness for inspiration, I'm afraid I will get stuck there and have trouble finding my way back out.

    Great photo and great post, Angella.

  4. This was a very well-written synopsis of this movie. Now I can't wait to see it. I think it's the contrasts in life - the light and the dark - that gives us the oomph to do something - to find our destiny.

  5. Ms. Moon, i know! It is the consolation I give myself on those days when i fail miserably at parenting.

    Tess, I actually try to avoid the subways but in New York City that is not always possible.

    ellen, i think the way out of that dark place is art. and acceptance. and forgiveness. i find i have to look into the dark place often otherwise it will trip me up and i won't know what is happening!

    Nancy, the movie is definitely worth seeing. I didn't even mention the character of Eduardo, who i think gives the movie it's emotional center.

  6. I can't wait to see this movie!
    I hope I haven't waited too long!!
    I'll have to see if it's still playing in CA.
    Great post, Angella.

  7. Gabriele, there's always the DVD. It was particularly fascinating because facebook now touches so many of our lives, much as the telephone did when it first arrived. and now I see that Time magazine has named Mark Zukerberg it's person of the year! I think the movie put him more fully and visibly in the zeitgeist.