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Hearing Voices Seeing Visions December 2013 at Orr Street Studios

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Disclaimers are a good way to start out, especially if the topic is political. Author Marlene Lee started out with a disclaimer for her story, “The Dome.” The governor of Missouri was in it and he walked in carrying a pizza box. From her time working as a court reporter, Lee was able to observe an extremely nervous attorney who became the basis for the Rebecca character in the story. She said her characters come from parts of herself and the people she knows. When writing a story, it’s a relief to reach the end because “endings are hard.”
Lee managed to make us laugh, even though she claimed she did not try to be funny. She did share a story that made pizza that much more appealing: “break through a string of cheese that tied him to his pizza.” Rebecca’s nervousness really came through when talking to the governor and she felt the need to practice her breathing exercises as recommended to her from her doctor. We learned that “everyone could use the governor’s help” and a politician could “succeed in politics, but fail at love.”
Danielle Langdon showed us video clips. Yes, that’s right. Graphic design is not just creative images. Langdon studied communications and dance and her studies became a part of her graphic design work. She incorporated her studies into her experiments and filmed them to demonstrate how society works and how people move. The various video clips presented showed how much people are depending more and more on technology to minimize awkwardness and feel connected to each other. For example, people depend on iPhones so much you can find college students texting while walking and crossing the street. Their faces seem to be always down, looking at their phones and when she placed several subjects in a group setting, all with phones in their hands, three girls walk by while looking down at their iPhones, completely unaware they are walking right through an experiment. To Langdon, it seems as if she used to walk around campus greeted with head nods and smiles and now that’s all replaced with face down movements to iPhones. Another example was two people eating a meal together and instead of communicating with each other, they are on their phones the whole time.
Despite the obvious over-involvement into technology, Langdon did not want the message to be we need to avoid iPhones. Rather, she wants us to examine our habits and realize we are not completely alone without our devices. Yes, relationships are hard and technology is easy (once you have it figured out), but as long as we remind ourselves that nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction, we’ll be OK.
Author Khem Aryal is from Nepal originally. He read the first part of a story called “Revenge.” It touched on class differences and how one subtle difference in class can cause heated discussions between people. He said he started out writing his stories in Nepali before writing in English. It’s funny how someone less educated than a shopkeeper can go away to school and come back to the same shop and treat and speak to the shopkeeper with contempt simply because of the hierarchy that separates them. After all, that guy’s a “bastard” and the shopkeeper just wants to sell his tea at whatever price he wants (even if it means a different price depending on the person buying).
All in all, another fun night of laughs and book signings and snacks. Come back next month to Orr Street Studios!


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