Walter Kirn went to the Democratic Convention, thought Michelle Obama’s speech was a load of hooey, then saw the media spin on it and wondered what planet he was on. More:
What I thought I was seeing clearly, through my own eyes—a wandering, vaporous, contrived display of middle-brow sentimentality and word-goo—I entirely misinterpreted, apparently. Or everyone else misinterpreted it, perhaps, which comes to the same thing.
To disagree with the conventional wisdom even as it’s being born around you—and even as you’re trying with all your might to anticipate and even shape it—is a profoundly disorienting experience. It makes you wonder if you were there at all, or if there even exists a there to be at. Ideally, a convention would be a ground zero of factuality, an objective reality in a shifting universe of spin and opinion and second-order commentary. But the further you get inside one, I’m discovering, the more deliriously lost you feel, particularly to the self that you came in with. How does one both enter the group mind and stay inside one’s own mind? It’s a challenge.
It’s not just a journalistic challenge, either. It’s the challenge we all face as modern political animals, caught in the feedback loops and logic mazes that come of trying to know the truth, our own truth—the truth worth casting our one and only vote for—when we don’t even know where to look, or through whose eyes.
I find this happens to me a lot these days. Partly it’s my own cynicism, but it’s also, I think, the effect of living in a landscape in which everything is constantly mediated, and re-mediated, to the point where there is no truth, only “truth.”