Cognitive Dissonance

March 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm 1 comment

A couple of important things came to my attention yesterday, and I’ve been struggling to fit them together. The first is this amazing TED talk by Amanda Palmer, which pretty much exploded all over the Internet:

I was blown away by the radical trust she displays for her fans and the way she manages to connect in such a meaningful way, even as her popularity and celebrity continue to grow. From the point of view of creation and the making of art, and finding a way to make that art financially viable, it was inspiring and beautiful. And I believe it is real and true. That this actually works. That people really are this honest, and generous and caring.

But I also found the level of trust she talks about terrifying, and that crystalized when I read this post from Sarah Houghton. Because as much as I want to live full-time in Amanda Palmer’s world of radical trust and meaningful connection, I can’t quite reconcile that against the unbelievably creepy shit that happens to an intelligent, forward-thinking and dedicated woman who dares to educate and promote important discussion in her profession. The sad truth is, it’s a magnification of the stuff most women have to deal with at some point or other in their lives, but being more visible has made Sarah more of a target. It’s despicable on every level. And this is also real and true. People really are this petty, and mean, and creepy and unstable.

There’s more to this. At about 2:00 this morning I had tied multiple threads together in my head – discussions currently taking place in library land, events that happened months ago that relate even more now, reflections on Seth MacFarlane’s performance at the Oscars…it all made a lot of sense in the wee hours, but feels more muddled now. It’s going to take me some time to untangle all of it.

But for now I’m going to watch Amanda Palmer again, and hold on to that truth and beauty for as long as I can.


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1 Comment

  • 1. DF  |  July 5, 2013 at 5:16 am

    I liked this post quite a bit. I don’t know at all who Amanda Palmer is beyond this TED talk nor do I know Sarah Houghton, but my suspicion is that everything negative that happens to Sarah probably also happens to Amanda in some form or other, but Amanda, for whatever reason, chooses not to focus on it. I think in the TED talk mentioning creeps would detract from her thesis, and I think she may be of the personality to shed that type of interaction more easily than Sarah, because Amanda is more performative, more “out there” than Sarah.

    Which means that you’re right, we should not take Amanda’s word for it that if you ask you’ll always (or even often) get what you’re asking for. There’s always a tension in human life between generosity and selfishness, and you’re wisely pointing that out. Amanda Palmer perhaps has a vocation as an artist to emphasize the generosity side, and she probably has that rare form of charisma that makes people want to be generous to her, while the rest of us mostly look like marks. Good for her.

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." - Pearce



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