Everything is About Everything

A few months ago I went to hear the artist Kara Walker speak about her work. Her art is primarily about race and racism and identity in American history, and in the interview she was asked about inspiration and influence. She’s a bit of a rambler generally, and this question really got her going. She mentioned postcards she’d found of black pin-up models, advertisements playing on stereotypes about black people and watermelons, illustrations of lynchings. She was reading Huckleberry Finn at the time, and that was floating around in her brain too. Finally, frustrated by all of the things she wanted to include in her list of influences, she threw up her hands and said, “Everything is about everything!” That’s pretty much how I feel about, well, everything.

I’m having an Everything is About Everything kind of week. For me, you know you’re having an EiAE week when you encounter at least three major pieces of media from different platforms simultaneously discussing the same themes and questions. For example, I tried to draw out this week’s Everything is About Everything Map:

photo (91)

Acronyms much? OKC = OkCupid, PUA = Pick-up Artists

The three anchors are:

  • Battlestar Galactica – TV show about a post-apocalyptic world in which a small band of humans are battling humanoid robots called Cylons.
  • Shine, Shine, Shine – A novel by Lydia Netzer about an autistic astronaut, his pregnant wife, and the future of the human race.
  • Geekfest: How to Hack a Conversation – A presentation in my office on how to apply engineering logic and programming rules to human conversation to talk up strangers and meet new people.

None of them are asking exactly the same questions, but it all feels inextricably tangled. What makes a human a human? If a Cylon looks like a human, talks like a human, dies like a human… how is it any different? What can robots do that humans can’t? What can humans do that robots can’t?* Can we code a robot to sound exactly like a human? Can a conversation really be broken into if/then statements? Can humans use that code to have better conversations? Is that manipulative? Is it just brilliant? Does it matter if you’re filling in a “deficiency” to reduce your own anxiety vs. trying to get someone to bend to your will?

Oh, and look at that, I’m reading Mr. Penumbra now, which also adds some layers to this. Humans and robots working together. Will robots ever replace humans? WHAT. TOO MANY THINGS.  I guess I need to expand my map.

Welp,  this is about the nerdiest post I’ve written in a while. Happy Tuesday!

*According to Maxon, the astronaut in Shine, Shine, Shine, the three things robots can’t do are a) Show preference without reason (LOVE), b) Doubt rational decisions (REGRET), and c) Trust data from a previously unreliable source (FORGIVE).

Related Post: Another week where Everything was about Everything: Tigers and Grandparents

Related Post: My friend builds robots



Filed under Art, Books, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

6 responses to “Everything is About Everything

  1. I find this really interesting and kind of how my mind works too. Everything is connected in a way if you really look at them with open eyes. Great post – get your inner nerd on and embrace it!

  2. I think it’s about what we read into something. Some people will come up with different feelings about something.

  3. Thank you for the best nerdy post I read this week! Never stop thinking and analyzing and following your brain down all divergent paths.
    EiAE 🙂

  4. I just found out about mind mapping today and, there’s one right here! Not sure what I’m going to do with the approach, but I’ll probably do what I usually do, let my mind work on it while I do something else and see what comes up! (I’m not sure if I need to try to use this kind of organizational approach yet, my mind seems to have a lot of maps going already – so I’m curious about the idea, but not sure if I need them…) :–)

  5. Pingback: Everything is About Everything: New Media + Old Media | rosiesaysblog

  6. Pingback: What I Read in 2013 | rosiesaysblog

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