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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

This month's self-portrait theme baffles me. I've spent hours trying to think of myself in some kind of relationship to popular culture, but I couldn't come up with anything. I realized that I don't even know for sure what popular culture is. Sure, I know the dictionary definition: commercial culture based on popular taste. Sure, I can give a couple of examples, like Campbell's tomato soup and American Idol, and hope that I'm not too far off the mark. But are Barbie dolls popular culture? How about dental floss? Baseball? What exactly qualifies, when in America, in the Western world in general, everything is so profoundly commercial, and what the greatest number of people agree to like and to buy at any given time is what rules?

I told Husband that I was stumped. He thought for a moment then said, in a brisk but resigned tone, "Well, one thing's for sure, Shakespeare isn't pop culture, nor Jane Austen, nor most of the things that you're interested in." I thought, feeling sorry for myself, "Yeah, I guess that's right." But then why not embrace it? Why not go full out and say, "All right, here I am, the antithesis of popular culture. I'm the counterexample. I'm the dork. I'm the one who has to be crossed out with a big thick red line and pointed to and told, you are everything but.

I added my picture in the collage above because this is a self-portrait after all. In truth, I don't deserve to be next to all those other beautiful things: the first page of the Moonlight Sonata, an illuminated manuscript, portraits of Shakespeare and Austen and Proust and Rachmaninof (whose Prelude in C-sharp minor I've been listening to), an Orthodox Christian icon, a Pollock painting, an Escher print. These are the things I like. This is what I'd spend my money on if I had enough money to buy them. This is my own personal pop culture. It used to be other people's too, hundreds of years ago (I'm thinking of Shakespeare). So I'm not in quite such a rarified company after all.


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