Is Image Really Everything?

Question: Is Image Really Everything?

Lisa Witter: Well it’s interesting as you’ve been following-- if you follow this primary that never seemed to end and now it’s finally over, you saw something very interesting happen when it comes to political stage crafting. Barack Obama has done these amazing things, he can get 70,000 people to show up in a lawn underneath the heat, you know, he packs stadiums full and that really connects to a certain group of people, it connects, often he makes these very lofty speeches and they’re a bit more intellectual, yet heartfelt, I mean totally heartfelt. Whereas Hilary Clinton did retail politics meaning, you know, door to door on the ground, just like Bill Clinton did. I mean these people really defined what that was and so Hillary Clinton would be down on the hay bales, she would have press conferences at gas stations, she would show up at union halls and she really understood that the space is political, just how they say is a personal political space is political in and of itself and so as you saw Hillary begin to gain momentum, especially with working class voters, I think a lot of it had to do with where she was connecting with people. Whereas Obama was connecting with people in these large masses and then you saw that Obama shifted his game a little bit which was super smart, literally he started playing basketball and having meetings in basketball halls and he now he’s understanding that you have to get down on the ground and sometimes roll up your sleeves and play a little hoops and other times, you know, give the big speech.

Question: Is John McCain bad at stagecraft?

Lisat Witter: Well I’m gonna tell you a little anecdote about how off I think John McCain is.  If you go to John McCain’s website right now and the main real estate of the property, so right in the middle of the home page there’s four major tabs and I don’t remember exactly what they are but it’s like strategy, decision, election and then golf gear.  Golf gear and you talk about, you know, we’re at a time right now where the women’s vote, a lot of it’s shifting because there are a lot of women who are upset about Hilary and they’ll say “I’m gonna vote for McCain” and this guy has on the front page of his website, golf gear, you know, personalized McCain golf gear, now that is not gonna attract women voters and it’s definitely not gonna attract the blue collar voters who the only thing they know about golf is that rich people do it.  He’s completely out of touch, so whether it’s stage craft, you know, with horrible green colors or whether it’s, you know, not getting the branding and messaging right, he doesn’t have it, you know, one of the reasons I think Hillary Clinton lost is she ran a 1992 campaign in 2008.  Barack Obama got momentum because he understood the internet and instead of going after $2000 donors or however/whatever the max is, one person at a time, he decided to grow a much larger donor base at $100 at a time and he really understands modern day elections.  It’s as much about the media as it is the internet and those things are completely interconnected, I mean look at the Jeremiah Wright thing, that thing exploded on YouTube, the whole way that the campaigns are now it’s completely changed the rules of the game and I’m not sure that McCain gets that.

 

 

 

Lisa Witter describes the differences in stagecraft between Obama and McCain.

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Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion

By his mid-30s, Edgar Allan Poe was not only weary by the hardships of poverty, but also regularly intoxicated — by more than just macabre visions. Despite this, the Gothic writer lucidly insisted that there was still a method to his madness when it came to devising poems.

In an essay titled "The Philosophy of Composition," published in 1846 in Graham's Magazine, Poe divulged how his creative process worked, particularly in regard to his most famous poem: "No one point in [The Raven's] composition is rerferrible either to accident or intuition… the work proceeded step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem."

That said, contrary to the popular idea that Edgar Allan Poe penned his poems in single bursts of inspiration, The Raven did not pour out from his quivering quill in one fell swoop. Rather it came about through a calculative process — one that included making some pretty notable changes, even to its avian subject.

As an example of how his mind worked, Poe describes in his essay that originally the bird that flew across the dreary scene immortalized in the poem was actually… a parrot.

Poe had pondered ways he could have his one word refrain, "nevermore," continuously repeated throughout the poem. With that aim, he instantly thought of a parrot because it was a creature capable of uttering words. However, as quickly as Poe had found his feathered literary device, he became concerned with the bird's form on top of its important function.

And as it turns out, the parrot, a pretty resplendent bird, did not perch so well in Poe's mind because it didn't fit the mood he was going for—melancholy, "the most legitimate of all the poetical tones." In solving this dilemma in terms of imagery, he made adjustments to its plumage, altogether transforming the parrot — bestowing it with a black raiment.

"Very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven, as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone," Poe explained in his piece in Graham's. "I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven — the bird of ill omen — monotonously repeating the one word, 'Nevermore,' at the conclusion of each stanza, in a poem of melancholy tone…"

It was with these aesthetic calculations that Poe ousted the colorful bird that first flew into his mind, and welcomed the darker one that fluttered in:

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore…

The details of the poem — including the bird's appearance — needed to all blend together, like a recipe, to bring out the somber concept he was trying to convey: the descent into madness of a bereaved lover, a man lamenting the loss of a beautiful woman named Lenore. With that in mind, quoth the parrot — "nevermore" just doesn't have the same grave effect.

* * *

If you'd like to read more about Edgar Allan Poe, click here to review how his contemporaries tried to defame him in an attempt to thwart his success.

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