Pretty much an accident that your perceptions of the place matched the author’s description

Last day before Thanksgiving. A break will be good. It’s already 5;25, I for some reason read the Rock. Coll. magazine that came instead of starting to write but hey, no big deal. Now , after poopin’, it’s 5:45. Oh, well, here we go.

This story about a blue-collar guy who lived thriftily and donated $2.3 million to University of Great Falls. But what caught my eye was his avoidance of “putting on a show”—as opposed to all the grabs for attention out there now, you know, the cultural importance of attention. And I wondered if what he is indicating here is that he’s humble, … that he’s doing the donation entirely for his own personal reasons, not for publicity or external reasons at all.

Here’s the other article that caught my attention yesterday, both from Tues. [Chicago] Tribune. This guy, Meltzer, writes comic books, novels, and a TV show,” Jack & Bobby.” At first, the quote about if he writes about it, he’s been there—well, duh. I mean, yes, if you’re writing about a place that other people might also visit (that is, if you’re not just writing about a made-up or appropriated-from-real-life place), then, yes, you need to be there.

But the other side to that quote could be the editor is saying author really “evokes” the places he writes about. But all that means is that, after reading this, you go there and see for yourself, you can see what he’s writing about. But you’ve already read this description, and so that’s in your mind when you go there yourself, you know? You can’t have the experience fresh because you’ve already read it. And let’s say that you read about a place you’ve already been to. Well, then, it’s just pretty much an accident that your perceptions of the place matched the author’s description.

See, I think I wrote about this recently, how media perceptions are often so different– that is, the perception of a place I get from seeing the media representation is not the experience I have when I go to a place. I’m reminded of my Wash. D.C. trip in ’97 [as a reporter for an agriculture newspaper, with my trip paid for by a corn-growers group] and how White House was smaller than I thought it’d be, less impressive somehow. And how there’s that dissonance between your idea built from media and your perception of it right here.

It might have been funny if, instead of just an article about the topics, if I’d actually written about the process of lobbying. After all, that was sorta more unique than most media accounts—and, sh!t, that would’ve been much better than the dull-ass articles I did write. But within recent months I found and reread some writing I’d done that was about the press conference, how horrible it was and everything—pretty funny now. That would’ve been a better story. It was more-interesting material than yet another ethanol story, but there you go. I can’t imagine Warren actually publishing it—though I’d have to tone it down. Maybe he would’ve actually let me do a sidebar on the lobbying process. Oh, well.

[From journal of Weds., 24 Nov. 2004, Journal 40, page 34-8]

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