Monday, February 24, 2014

True Pixels, False Hopes

It's all in your head, Fred, especially the delusions.

Another thing I learned — things are never as good as they look in the photos.

So when did I learn this? About 1952? A few weeks later? Surely not within the last six months, unless I am profoundly stupid. Which is a possibility, I guess.

Hard to say.

If I'm that stupid, then how can I tell? Ask someone? Ask lots? Ask enough people to get a statistically significant sample, then hammer on the responses with advanced math?


On the one hand, if I can do that, then I'm probably doing work sophisticated enough to qualify me as Not All That Stoopid. But on the other hand, if I do that, then maybe I'm so stupid that I'm auto-selecting myself for extermination. Because who would go through that kind of trouble to prove that they're not dumb — someone dumb would, right?


Which still leaves me wondering if I'm smart enough not to qualify as stupid, or stupid enough that I can't tell. I'll leave it to you. Come by some day and take a gander. Then deliver me the verdict, if you please.

And then stand back. I might not be as equable as you are imagining. Or as wimpy. You have been warned.

Among the other things that are never as good as they look in the photos: all rooms and apartments. That you see in photos. And which are unrecognizable in person. This is what I've learned, stupid or not. They always look better in photos. In the sense that they always look at least decent in photos, and usually much better than that.

One way they look different in person is how they smell. And another is how they sound. Photos always lie about these qualities in particular, even photos that try hard to be honest, and they do it all the time.

For instance, the place I'm in now.

It smells like an old man. Specifically, an accountant. With that turn-of-the-century staleness. Turn-of-the-century as in 20th century, folks. If you've ever spent time in an office building put up between 1890 and 1925, then you know it. It's unmistakable. My place is like that. No photo will tell you about it.

People too, of course. They're all different in person. They pop from two dimensions at best up to a minimum of three, and throw in motion and sound, and sentience and all those other dimensions, and you have what not even the truest color photograph can honestly bring to life.

And it's mostly marketing.

When you see a photo of a lawyer or a facilitator or a language teacher, or a place to live, you're supposed to feel sympathy, trust, longing and hopefulness, in different degrees depending on the subject.

But you're supposed to like it or her or him.

You see a plate of food, and it looks delicious, and you go there to have that meal and then you wonder WTF? Always happens.

Apartments? There are always surprises, like the electric tingle I get from the shower, or the slow drain that chokes on tiny nibbles of house dust, requiring daily unplugging. The leaky propane cylinder under the kitchen counter. Dim lights. Gallon-per-minute water flow in the sink. Stale closets. Uneven flooring.

You know?

Nothing is ever what you have been led to believe.

Which is why I, dearly, hope we never meet. So far I like you just the way you are.


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