Exercising Perspective

Kottke mentioned a hilarious site that lists uncomfortable plot summaries of popular movies. It’s a great example of how perspective works. There are any number of ways to describe something based on personal bias. My favorite example on the site is, naturally, the one for Star Wars:

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE: Religious extremist terrorists destroy government installation, killing thousands.

This got me thinking about how even the simplest and most harmless things can be described in ways that are disturbing:

  • Buying ice cream: “Cow exploitation causes thousands to gain weight.”
  • Watching a movie: “Man sits motionless for hours watching colored lights.”
  • Going to church: “Hundreds practice ritualized cannibalism in front of large torture device.”
  • Mowing the lawn: “Innocent creatures slaughtered and landscape devastated in mid-morning carnage.”

“A Crimson Grail”

The weather was impossibly perfect. We loaded in at 11:30 a.m. and made our way up to Lincoln Center to set up. A fine day to stand around waiting. Although my search for a quick bite to eat was fruitless (not much in the way of to-go food in that neighborhood so I had to settle for a sandwich from Starbucks), I did enjoy relaxing and chatting with the other 199 guitarists at Damrosch Park. We took our seats around 6:30 and the crowd started filing in. And kept coming. And coming. I did not expect thousands of people.

Fortunately I was on the end of my section, right by the gate, so it was easy for me to catch Amy, Alllie, Caroline and Matt. They took up a spot right next to me. My boss, Marya, also stopped by to say hi. The crowd eventually had to be turned back because there were no more chairs.

Our hour-long composition started around 7:45, slowly building, section by section, into the final climax. Toward the end, the sounds became so huge and otherworldly that people started standing up to receive it.

We finished to a long ovation. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

UPDATE: The New York Times estimates 10,000 people showed up.