Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sígnatéur


Animals make their mark by rubbing, digging, and/or relieving themselves on it. We sign our name.

Though abstract, a written name carries material power. It can be the difference between financial liberation and hindering debt, between getting a promotion and getting fired, going free or serving time, fact versus legend.

How we write our name is as unique as the fingerprints holding the pen, and it reveals something about us. If the prescriptions I've gotten filled are an indication, physicians are too busy to write carefully or feel that legibility is beneath them, while a slave's "X" on a pre-Abolition document is a tragic symbol of his captive illiteracy. 

Because inscription is so individual, it's also very emotional. It's why forgery feels like such a deep violation, and why collectors pay big money for autographs at auction: to feel closer to celebrities by acquiring their essence in ink.

More than fluent scribbling, the signature is the face of our penmanship, the insignia of ourselves.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Editing Room C


Revision isn't always advisable.

Coca-Cola, for instance. It remained the quintessential, Platonic ideal of a soft drink for ninety-nine years. Then in 1985 they rolled out New Coke for no good reason, and it became an unpalatable affront to soda enthusiasts everywhere, who preferred the recipe before it tasted like hairspray.

Similarly, 2005 didn't need a remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because the 1971 Gene Wilder version is scrumdiddlyumptious.

Cosmetic enhancements are said to enhance, but images of plastic surgery addicts illustrate how most of us don't need remaking either. Perfectly good faces edited into eggshell; unwanted marks erased until the doctor's pencil tears through the page.

Hi-tech videogame fitness? Good ol' lap swimming or sex will always be a better workout than a Wii.

And all that texting. Has it really enhanced communication? Hasn't it instead diluted our language and thought into a thin broth of acronyms and emoticons? Digital grunts have replaced conversation.

Finally, how much more capable of blowing up everyone do the world's superpowers need to be?  I thought we had that covered by the mid-twentieth century.

"New and improved" is the oxymoron of our time.

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