Friday, January 04, 2008


Every once in a while, one of the many conversations going on all over the web hits a chord, and makes you think. Here are a couple:

In The Sneeze, Steven wrote about a strange little drawing that his father had done for years, on birthday cakes and cards. For his latest birthday, he asked his father to explain what the drawing is. What a great tale: The Mystery of the Face on the Cake. It involves a little boy in the 40s who wanted to draw like his friend, so got himself a book on how to draw faces. Only one face survived, but he couldn't say exactly how it evolved: This made for a great dialog between parents and son:
My Mom: Can I tell you what I think. He drew this picture for me many times. Originally I thought that was a pipe that he had (in his face.
Dad: Sticking in his neck?!
Mom: It used to be a pipe.
Dad: No, no, no.
Me: You know that game "Telephone" where one kid whispers something into another kid's ear and it goes down the line until at the end it's completely different? I think that's what this is. A crazy game of Telephone that's taken place over 60 years in one man's mind.
Mom: I agree. But I think it got better over time.
Dad: That's what it looked like in the book!
Thanks, Dad.
And, after readers found the original book:
Obviously I left off his nose.
What happened there?
I don't remember. Somewhere along the way I left it off. I hope you're not putting this on your site.
This is not for publication.
Are you crazy? This is ABSOLUTELY for publication. The only reason the internet exists is for this conversation to be on it!
All right.

Wonderful conversation going, too, on a totally different topic, the story of Baltimore told in David Simon's The Wire (already mentioned in previous postings here). In The Atlantic, Mark Bowden profiles 'The Angriest Man in Television'.
Some years ago, Tom Wolfe called on novelists to abandon the cul-de-sac of modern “literary” fiction, which he saw as self-absorbed, thumb-sucking gamesmanship, and instead to revive social realism, to take up as a subject the colossal, astonishing, and terrible pageant of contemporary America. I doubt he imagined that one of the best responses to this call would be a TV program, but the boxed sets blend nicely on a bookshelf with the great novels of American history.

There's much more on Matt Yglesias' blog, where the comments are making a great conversation: David Simon and the Audacity of Despair. In the comments, David Simon himself writes in and questions the people who claim his view is too negative:
If The Wire is too pessimistic about the future of the American empire -- and I've read my Toynbee and Chomsky, so I actually think a darker vision could be credibly argued -- no one will be more pleased than me as I am, well, American. Right now, though, I'm just proud to see serious people arguing about a television drama; there's some pride in that. Thanks.

(Via Metafilter and Boing Boing.)


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