John Dickerson

A new place for notions
  • March 2, 2013 7:54 am

    Amanda Palmer Talk: it’s the writing

    I am suspicious about how much I like this Amanda Palmer talk that everyone has decided to like at this moment in the Internet. Maybe I’m just a sucker for it. 

    She’s witnessing which is always compelling. I love anyone who talks about risk and trust and adaptation creativity from the middle of the experiment. I’ve been consumed with these idea since my series on risk (You haven’t read it? I’m crushed, but now you know how you’ll spend your weekend).

    I’m also in awe because I don’t stage dive. I barely watch videos of stage dives in carefully packaged elite community gatherings.

    Halfway through watching, I wanted to show it to my 9 year old daughter. I bet Palmer’s report card from 3rd grade looks a lot like hers.  Full of warnings about being funny at the wrong time and being excessively independent-minded. Amanda colors outside the lines and on the walls and on the teacher. We imagine one day she’ll let people color on her.

    Figuring out how to be yourself and independent in a way that is productive is the whole game. It makes for an electric life but it also gives you armor, whether you’re getting yelled at by people in passing cars or can’t find your spot on the playground. (My son has a better handle on this mix; for him I’ll play her music).

    These are the obvious reactions I would have to this. What I didn’t expect was the restraint and the planning in the story-telling. It’s a great little piece of writing and performance. You might imagine that someone of Palmer’s talents and style would not be so exacting. You might guess she would be all messy emotion and shock and hey look at me being crazy on stage. Invite me to dinner and I’ll shove a biscuit in your mouth. But this is a story carefully told. There are little switchbacks and payoffs —it’s bookended by the flower, but there are little bouquets along the way.

    I’d love to read what she had on that device she had in her hand that she looks at throughout the talk, because I bet the bones of her performance would be fun to talk about. I bet it has the entry-points boiled down, or it’s written in her shorthand which I bet is an amusing language.

    Also: the performance energy. It too is restrained but powerful. After watching Palmer’s command on stage, I’m pretty sure she could throw a cinder block farther than this terrifying robot horse.

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