Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Moveable Mundane (on editing Everyday Genius, the GIF animation month)

The cliché that much of the good writing is inspired by typical, everyday occurrences is pretty much true. Poets and novelists elevate the mundane. They show us that the small things are actually big. Making a peanut butter and jelly for a friend isn’t just making a peanut butter and jelly. It’s the writer’s job to point out why, maybe to make it beautiful somehow. These every day gestures and nuances are essential to literature.

Even writing about fabulous events like war and Wall Street and the life of an eccentric game show hosts needs that typical real stuff between the fabulous stuff to make it feel real and relatable. Like, the womanizing game show host happens to inherit a large collection of mint condition Beanie Babies from his dead mother that he re-gifts to each of his many one-night stands. There. That was easy.

Now that so many of our daily “events” occur online, I thought to consider the animated GIF as an occurrence – a repeated event that happens infinitely – all the time. It’s endlessly mundane. It’s context-less and superficial. GIFs (generally) aren’t meant to mean anything. Asking writers to respond to GIFs forced them to consider the repeating images as an event in their own personal history when, in fact, as seemingly trivial as they are, these GIFs really are events in our own personal history. They happen to us. They happen to be everywhere.


1 comment:

Christopher said...

I really dug this project, man. Had a lot of great responses.

Also, you're comment about making a pb&j made me think of a few years ago when I severed some tendons in my right (dominant) hand, and how difficult these simple tasks became--this one instance when I tried to make myself a pb&j for lunch, but since my hand was bound in gauze and wrappings, I couldn't easily unscrew the lids on the peanut butter or the jelly, when I finally got them open, how I tried to use my clumsy left hand to weild the knife to spread, but of course, since I couldn't use my right hand to really hold the bread, it just scooted around on the counter. When I tried to hold the bread with my bandaged hand, i simply smashed the bread. I eventually chucked the knife across the kitchen and slumped down there against the refrigerator and burst into tears.