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Talk Dessert

March 30, 2010

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March 29, 2010

Every great short story writer is pretty much great. Some are masters of insight. Some are masters of  pun. Some create magic with characters. Some send your head spinning with quirks and others just know how to design a crispy, yummy plot. Anton Chekhov was a lot of this, but to me the man ruled with insights through metaphors. I distinctly remember the story ‘Home’. It is probably the most aptly titled short-story I’ve ever read. I don’t know if you’ll open the link and read it. I say do it. Come to conclusions for yourself. Or read on. I will deconstruct it here the way I read it.

The story is about a busy father who comes home to learn that his 7-yr old son smoked a cigarette. Throughout the story he plays the devil’s advocate against his own sense of reasoning and weighs various alternatives on how to educate his son – so that he learns for the right reasons. That the father is a public prosecutor by profession, is only fitting.

Now these are three ways in which Chekhov drove home some insights simply through his title and it is only the tip of the iceberg considering it’s his story:

At home with your thoughts – Random thoughts and musings come to your mind when it’s free, resting and allowed to think privately. These appear to be homelike thoughts, home standing for rest, comfort and a spot that allows you to unwind.The protagonist strolls through them till he finds his solution. The son is perpetually at home with his own thoughts until his father finds a way to enter them.

For people who are forced for whole hours, and even days, to think by routine in one direction, such free private thinking affords a kind of comfort, an agreeable solace.

Think close to homeThe father struggles to discover the right lesson that’d make sense to his son. He tries all. The son buys none. At the brink of frustration, it finally strikes him to speak the son’s language. The lesson is wrapped in an interesting story which more than catches the boy’s attention and forms an imprint. Is his title now referring to the target’s comfort zone?

From daily observation of his son the prosecutor had become convinced that children, like savages, have their own artistic standpoints and requirements peculiar to them, beyond the grasp of grown-up people. Had he been attentively observed, Seryozha might have struck a grown-up person as abnormal. He thought it possible and reasonable to draw men taller than houses, and to represent in pencil, not only objects, but even his sensations.

Drive home a point: Deeply moved by the story, the child vows to never smoke again. Home is now the desired destination. Having succeeded in his little mission, the father is left once again to ponder on the things that human beings are agreeable to.

“They would tell me it was the influence of beauty, artistic form,” he meditated. “It may be so, but that’s no comfort. It’s not the right way, all the same. . . . Why must morality and truth never be offered in their crude form, but only with embellishments, sweetened and gilded like pills? It’s not normal. . . . It’s falsification . . . deception . . . tricks . . . .”

He thought of the jurymen to whom it was absolutely necessary to make a “speech,” of the general public who absorb history only from legends and historical novels, and of himself and how he had gathered an understanding of life not from sermons and laws, but from fables, novels, poems.

“Medicine should be sweet, truth beautiful, and man has had this foolish habit since the days of Adam . . . though, indeed, perhaps it is all natural, and ought to be so. . . . There are many deceptions and delusions in nature that serve a purpose.”

More than anything, this story reaffirmed my faith in advertising and it’s attempts at being closer home to the consumer’s mind rather than pocket.  Advertising tries to give people a reason to buy. The right reason to buy. A reason they can relate to.  A reason that is about them because most people only understand things they can relate to.

Short story shorter: Understand people, diagnose the problem, give them what they need, make the medium engaging as hell so that they sit-up, listen to what you’re trying to say so as to indirectly influence their future course-of-action.

Now most branding, advertising, copy, planning books say this but how much cooler is it when it comes from Chekhov?

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March 29, 2010

She said she knew
I thought I did too

She lunged, in a sure lil step
Landed steady, safely at bay
Plunged I, dreaming of Yet
Crashed and bled, it swept me away

Hasty dry she raced the beach
Clutched my strength I battled the deep

What a picture she was, they matched her stride
Further I swam, invisible wasn’t I?
Sand in its face, it followed her still
You see it’s the crowd it really doesn’t think

But land stretched in her strained eyes
The end she had known, why wasn’t it near
while I swayed no more surprised
Her feet sank, their purpose unclear

They had seemed behind but the crowd was she
She was on her left, on her right ran she
Her arms limped to rescue her sides
The waves pushed, setting me free

They closed in, trampled on her
Eager to reach what the beauty seeked
My fingers brushed the waiting shore
An island of peace, a mountain of me

The Age of Nakedness

March 25, 2010

Yes. Everyone wants to assign their complex-yet-intriguing times an all-inclusive, definitive name. I do too. Hell, I love branding. The Information age, the conceptual age, the age of ideas, the design age, it doesn’t end. They all embrace the internet. They all extol the great fall of boundaries, the greater rise of content movement of our times. What about the perpetuators though? The people who make it happen? But then every age is the age of the people. That is a given considering we be the only living planet (officially).

What sets us apart is our willingness to put ourselves out there. We bare our souls more than ever through our content, design, writings, art, comments, views, tweets, handles, anything. We like to think we rest behind comfortable masks. No one can see us after all? And here we are – disidentified with our bodies, indulging in our minds and souls, open books for the world to leaf through. And it doesn’t matter. Because that’s why this age is great. It allows us to be unabashedly narcissistic. It allows us to live up to our potential. Good or Bad. Either way, it makes us raise ’em bars like never before.

More than anything, it allows us to dance.

We are masquerading exhibitionists. Just that nakedness is our only disguise.

Blind Spot

March 20, 2010

It took a rather large and powerful nudge to get her to try the other escalator. She insisted that she was on the right one but that something was wrong with it. It wasn’t her first time. She knew what to do. She was determined to do it.

Even as she stubbed her toes, scratched her arms and struggled for balance, it didn’t strike her to step back just a bit, and take a good look. And how could she? What with that huge escalator-sized blind spot inhibiting her.

Such is our vision.

Such is our perception.

Such is our understanding.

Such is our conviction.

Such are our plans.

Bah.

Go Hunt

March 10, 2010

No really, the foodchain needs you

I made this for a friend who seemed to have stopped hunting. We all do it – get caught up with life and forget the things we thrive on. We stop hunting. Our natural instincts are pushed into a slumber to accommodate our all-consuming lives.

Sometimes you need to stop.

And take a whiff.

And Sniff it out.

Your prey.

And go for the kill.

Game.

Who’s your Daddy?

March 4, 2010
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Wonder why I see grandfather clocks when I hate time and funky, designer watches when I love it.