June 19, 2005
Perhaps because weddings and funerals have been the primary venue for my public speaking, there is an emotional sense memory attached to the act of standing in front of an audience. The unhappy anticipation generally leads to dryness of mouth a blankness of mind, and a rabbit-like heart rate. Weird things happen to my voice. It's awful.
But last night when I finally started talking I calmed down. While I went off the rails a bit and babbled, I wasn't nervous, which I suppose is progress. Still, I envy those people who can speak clearly and eloquently in front of a crowd like some of my fellow presenters. Travis Ruse in particular, gave a compelling talk about the thinking behind his subway photography. By documenting his daily commute week in and week out, his images form a dignified portrait of the people of this great city presenting a cross-section of it's diversity, complexity and grace. He spoke of being compelled to his project by a sense that the rest of the world misunderstands Americans, thinking of us all as right wing lemmings and wanted to in his small way to fight that image by small portraits of our daily truth.
As I was sitting there listening to Travis, I thought about the ease with which virtually anyone with access to the internet can publish to a worldwide audience and present a portrait of his world and just perhaps change a few minds. We are lucky indeed.