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Blog

Horizontal History

Kevin Broome

Our understanding of history tends to be spotty at best. There are important dates that we commit to memory (1492, 1812, 9/11) and there is a rough linear sense of when important discoveries were made, events took place, great people died or were born.

But what most of us don't entirely grasp is the larger context in which these moments played out. Unless you dive deeper into a specific period of time — I am a 50's/60's culture buff, but can only claim to have scratched the surface — the individual dates and facts remain isolated; still significant, sure, but in surveying the bigger story that was playing out at the time, there is even greater understanding as to how a theory was derived or why a revolution took flight.

Tim Urban has posted an article over at Why But Wait on his notion of Horizontal History. Basically, the idea is that by plotting "Really Famous People's Lifespans" horizontally through the decades, we are able to note those who were living at the same time (Queen Victoria, Van Gogh, Sitting Bull) as well as whose influence was waning as someone else began to shine (Babe Ruth, Bruce Lee).  

From this, one gains a sense of both zeitgeist and continuity. And one becomes acutely aware of the juxtaposition of the brief and finite nature of life against the great, ever-flowing rush of existence.

GoPro: Best of 2015

Kevin Broome

Watching this clip of GoPro's Year in Review, it becomes immediately apparent just how impactful they have been in redefining the way we perceive the world and how we tell our stories. Some truly astounding footage here. Enjoy.

(picnic, lightning): The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature & Editing as Punctuation in Film

Kevin Broome

In January 2014 Kathryn Schulz published an article in Vulture called "The Five Best Punctuation Marks in Literature." It is a great piece, worthy of you the reader abandoning all that is to come in this post, clicking through, digesting every detail of its brilliance and then calling it a night. 

But if you didn't do that, if you are still here, then I invite you to also check out Max Tohline's cinematic response to Schulz's post. He states that:

I wanted to assemble a video essay with a rapidfire list of nominees of great moments of editing-as-punctuation in film. But as I started putting it together, the project grew into a twofold piece: an analysis of and response to Schulz's article as well as an attempt to spur new insights about editing by examining it through the metaphor of punctuation.

Tohline's video is 20 minutes, which is epic by internet standards, but it is worth sticking through it. While not always completely successful in its attempts to equate film technique with literary structure, the ideas stay with you and may even inform your next Netflix viewing.

Stanley Kubrick on making your own meaning

Kevin Broome

“The very meaninglessness of life forces a man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality.

"As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s élan.

"Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining.

"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

— Stanley Kubrick