‘We have a more complicated understanding of football than we do genetics and evolution. Nobody thinks just the quarterback wins the game’
They ask for something like the rejection a century ago of the Victorian-era ‘Great Man’ model of history. This revolt among historians recast leaders not as masters of history, as Tolstoy put it, but as servants. Thus the Russian Revolution exploded not because Marx and Lenin were so clever, but because fed-up peasants created an impatience and an agenda that Marx articulated and Lenin ultimately hijacked. Likewise, D-Day succeeded not because Eisenhower was brilliant but because US and British GIs repeatedly improvised their way out of disastrously fluid situations. Wray, West-Eberhard and company want to depose genes likewise. They want to cast genes not as the instigators of change, but as agents that institutionalise change rising from more dispersed and fluid forces."
And sitting right at this interface of the bodily and the imaginary are our photographs. Nowadays, family members expecta nearly continuous stream of baby images. What my Aunt Chiquita wants to see is not merely that our baby is alive, but to get some sense of who he is. And the stream of photographs allow us to craft an identity for a child that cannot communicate his own just yet.
In “real life,” he is a tiny, speechless, motor control-less creature just getting used to life outside the womb. But in his photostream, he’s moving adroitly from sleeping lump to baby gorilla to active participant in the human world. The real-time existence of this record is a new thing in the world.
A friend, the writer Jon Mooallem, once told me that the things that are hard about parenting are easy to talk about, while the great things about kids are nearly impossible to describe. I think that’s one reason that the lingua franca of new parents is trading miseries.
The photos we take and post, though, try to get at the other (good!) layer of the experience. That is to say, there is truth in the neverending baby photostream. The stories we tell ourselves about our children, on or off Instagram, are as real a part of becoming mothers and fathers as the diaper changes and sleep deprivation: they’re how we make meaning of this grueling, beautiful experience. Parental life does work at these dual levels, time moving both too slow and too fast."
Wikileaks had a very frustrating time trying to get anyone except bloggers to pay attention to their early revelations. No one seemed to care.
The reason why is important. There’s too much information out there for most people to pay attention to, let alone figure out whether they believe it or not. Hence, most people rely on other institutions such as media organizations to tell them which information is worth caring about. Not only do people not pay much attention to information until it gets the stamp of approval from some authoritative institution, but this information is transformed, because everybody knows that everybody else is paying attention to it. It stops being mere information, and becomes knowledge — generally accepted facts that people use to build their understanding of what everybody knows about politics."