30 September 2012

On Writing and Being an International Correspondent, William Langewiesche

William Langewiesche - International Correspondent
of Vanity Fair

 (From Media Bistro´s interview with the American writer):

I, being young and naive myself, left my job and began to fly airplanes and to write, always writing. I wrote a bunch of stuff that was not published, and I continued to struggle. My goal was never to become a pilot. My goal was to, well, become exactly what I am now, interestingly enough. I failed at that for many years, but I was lucky because I had a skill which allowed me to stay dry when it rained.

I knew that there was this magazine world in New York, with lots of slick magazines, and I knew that I did not want write for those guys, so I never approached them. I thought I would rather fly airplanes than do that. I dont know why I had a strong aversion to it. I wanted to write serious stuff, long stuff, not fast stuff. I wanted to write with quality, both quality of thought and literary quality, and I knew I could not do that in that world.

One of the reasons my writing was not good enough when I was 25 years old was that my thinking was not good enough. One of the reasons my thinking was not good enough was that I was not old enough. I did not have enough experience. Why would a reader, a mature reader, an intelligent reader want to read the work of a 25-year-old at least on serious subjects? 

I try to understand what I´m seeing. There´s a stage I go through when I´m rubbing my eyes, and I can´t understand this world that I´m in now. I feel like I dont understand anything. I cant see anything. I start asking questions, and then I very much listen to people. I listen to people very carefully. When I´m on the ground, I´m working anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day.

Writing is thinking. Writing is a form of thought. 

The real work is not done in places like Kinshasa or on the ground. The real work is done outside. What you are doing on the ground is trying to provide yourself with the resources  necessary to think about the subject clearly later on.

For complete interview, here.

19 September 2012

I´ve killed my TV

Manifesto 2010 (Source: Google)

Ever since I began to live in another part of the globe until I went back home with new perspective in life (including months allocated for reasonable hiatuses of thought), I´ve killed my TV. 

No kidding, I own none of that boxes since I finished college (2010), and never want to have it back in my life, again. Not that I dont want to correspond with the world through moving pictures, reportages, or a seemingly infinite number of fake faces, but I just have fallen in love deeper than ever to the world wide web. Plus, I take lots (more) advantages from the internet. 

I found the breaking news about some major world headlines (Bin Laden´s assasination, Assange´s hide and seek story on Ecuador´s embassy in London, or Kim K´s stupid-fake-days of marriage drama) from the internet first, not TV. Sorry for classifying Kardashian´s ironic incident to ´major world headlines,´ folks!

So sorry television. Sorry Philo Farnsworth.

But then what happened yesterday afternoon, was somehow revealing the long-time broken relations between me and the TV. Oh no, wait, it´s the media!

Short story: I went back to my place around 3pm, and a dorm-mate of mine greeted me with minutes of chit-chats about random stuffs. Then she invited me to come to her room where she had her TV on, showing us the infotainment (that´s how they call ´the show about the show off celebrities´) with the grand topic of the day : ¨The life of Jakarta´s Socialites Women.¨

First, I dont have any personal issue with social butterflies named ´socialites´ whatsoever. Well in truth, I had never even cared about their existence. In my opinion, even Margherita Missoni is indeed just a same human like another woman, like me. Well, we´re speaking about the very basic composition of human being, don´t we?

What strikes me the most from the show was nothing but one thing only: The overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner from those 30 (or 40)-something self-acclaimed socialites. By telling the stories about how they regularly have ´arisan´ every month with 10 millions rupiah obligated to pay by each member (they have 30 members, fyi), or their love for diamonds, for the love of God, and their picture perfect brouhaha yacht private party in north Jakarta (Ancol) where these women amuse themselves with their laughs and never ending camera flashes on their sailor look alike costumes. 

Then here comes the ´important´ part of the show. The socialites stories about millions of millions prices of Hermes bags they bought, Chanel earings they purchased while vacationing in Paris, their Charlotte Olympia´s heels, and of course, their prideness for being a wife of public sector executives or business tycoons.

Sometimes it only takes a few seconds to hate a person. To label that person with such personal name like ´a total loser,´ ´a pain in the ass,´ et cetera, et cetera. 

For me, it´s way beyond that cheesy comments. It´s all about the missing link between the TV and the media provider. I  know there are different layers/segments of audiences out there in the real entertainment world. There are those who love news and news only, or those with tissue for tears during their TV series´ night time. Or those with sports and stuffs, and other more of them.

I think what I´d like to emphasize here, is as same as the statement I found on ´Freunde von Freunden´ journal: 

¨Immersion, interactivity, integration, impact, as discussed by media scholars and philosophers such as Vilem Flusser, Alexander Kluge and Niklas Luhmann since the last 60s, non-linear storytelling through hypermedia emphasized the reader´s role in the process of media consumption.¨

The role of storytelling, I believe is the most important role of TV media. There´s a thing called responsibility in an action of providing civil society with educating, curating the right words of choice for the show, because at some point most of the people would be weak in choosing. What they see is what they get in mind. And please, do not forget kids and their immitating acts. 

Showing the world about the abundance of wealth possesed by some spesific groups of people, is not a sin. In fact, I agree, it´s what information is all about. To spread words about the real pictures in life. 

Yes there are those who live with less than 2 dollars, and yes there are those who could spend 10.000 dollars for a day. It´s something we should realize and simply just accept the fact like the way it is. Not big deal.

But, what I would like to say to the TV media is nothing like a shallow critic from someone who live with freelance fee (ehem). Here´s what I want to say:

¨Dear media tycoons. With your money, with your strong ties to the ruling government, with your love for profits, with your power to reach talented talents around this country, with your ´act like you care for developments´ through your corporate social responsibility, and with your time for political participation in various parties, please try (even if it´s hard) to be your very own smart editor. Please curate your show. There are thousands-millions even-creative people in this world who´d love to work on that field (smart media movement). If you can´t help yourself from trashing people with trashy entertainments, just think of your kids and their future. At least.¨

Until then, I´ll be okay with no TV.