Tuesday, May 18, 2004

comics, radio

this lecture (pdf) by ira glass of 'this american life' and chris ware (who wrote the comic book 'jimmy corrigan: the smartest kid on earth') is great. it's more of a conversation/colloquium than a lecture, but seriously, if you are interested in art or media or expression in general, you should check it out.

it's 80 pages long, but a great read. there are so many parts that i wanted to blockquote in the post b/c i'm afraid that none of you are going to read it, but the post would end up being 20 pages long, so i'm going to just put up a few parts that i thought were great:

Ira Glass: Before you start them, could you just talk about that transition that happened with Potato Man? What, what happened in that transition? Chris Ware: Uh…a girl broke up with me. That was, that was—it’s the truth. There’s a sort of sense of desperation, I guess, at that point—where I felt like nothing mattered anymore, and it seemed silly to try to invest… art, especially the art that I was doing in school, with such power, in—I don’t really know how—a way to put it, it just seemed like there was just too much weight being put on art as being dangerous, or something, and I just wanted the art basically to be my friend. That sounds pathetic, but I mean—it’s true.
This is when I started to get more and more self-indulgent in art school, because I realized it didn’t matter who cared, you know, it’s just art. It’s just all gonna, you know, be buried in a hundred years anyway, who cares. So much pressure’s put on an artist to make something that seems relevant, and what’s the point? I could get hit by a truck tomorrow, what difference does it make? Actually, one of my friends was hit by a truck, in art school, so….
Ira Glass: Well then, well actually, well actually, like—somebody will talk and be making their big point and you just feel like—as a producer, you feel like, “Oh, I want to slow them down.” Because, because the point will have more emotion and will come across to the listener with the emotion that the person’s feeling more if you slow them down. And so, we’re constantly taking, like, these tiny little pieces of—of blank time and inserting it between words to change the pacing. Chris Ware: Wow. Ira Glass: Yeah.
like sometimes people will say, “Well, how come the people on public radio just seem so much more articulate than people you meet?” And it’s because, man, we have edited out everything extraneous. You know, they’re talking better than they’ve ever talked in their lives. You know? And, and uh, you know, we’re making a more perfect version of them than could ever exist in nature. And… [audience laughter] And my feeling about it is like, it’s, it’s, it’s such an artificial, um, it’s such an artificial thing to sit down and tape somebody to start with. ... Suddenly I sound like Michel Foucault.
Chris Ware: Oh, no, maybe not as sad and miserable. I don’t want to—you know, just—I’m not trying to make, you know, depress people or anything. I guess I get accused of that, sometimes. I’m really not, you know. It’s like, I don’t want, you know, it’s not—this is not a guidebook on how to live your life. [audience laughter] There’s plenty of miserable, lonely people in the world and there’s not enough art about it, I don’t think. I, you know—I get tired of reading stories about sexual liaisons and, you know, and conquests and all that kind of nonsense, it just gets tiresome. There’s plenty of that stuff, I mean. I don’t know, I guess I’m nuts or something. Ira Glass: Happy-happy people have the Friends. [some audience hissing] Chris Ware: What? Ira Glass: Happy people have the TV show Friends. [audience chuckles] Chris Ware: No, but I mean, you ride the bus, you ride the train, and you see so many people that you know they’ll never meet anybody. I mean, you can tell. And it’s, I mean it’s—
But I think, I mean it’s certainly, Charles Schultz could – could have been accused of being Charlie Brown, and that’s why he cared so much about Charlie Brown, I think. Did anybody ever see the last interview that Charles Schultz ever did? Really? It was amazing, he… it was when he announced his retirement, shortly before he died, and… I… happened to see it on a plane, my wife nudged me an- and, you know, “Put on your headphones” and I put ‘em on, and then I watched Charles Schultz talk about the ending of his comic strip and as soon as he had to mention the name of any of his characters, he burst in hysterical tears and uh, I realized, like, he, he couldn’t bear to, to imagine living without these characters, which is why he died, I think, partly. I mean, that’s kind of a romantic notion, but…he was an amazing cartoonist, I think he’s the only cartoonist to ever…ever put that sort of feeling into cartoons, and, into, into his characters. He cared more about Charlie Brown than anybody did, so.

don't worry, we'll be back to speculating over lindsay lohan's labial symmetry soon.


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