(enjoy the meme music after the jump)
On November 22, 2011, at approximately 2:05 PST, at the time of this post’s inception, a version of UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi walking to her car (with the parenthetical “higher quality,” as proposed by the uploader) had been viewed 873,526 times three days after it had been posted. Its like-to-dislike ratio was 4485:91 (or, ~49:1). It captures the 2:39 minutes endured by Katehi and relished by us all for her to walk to her car through a considerate berth of protestors, silenced in their greatest form of protest. This is when I began to take them seriously. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen, in its humanity, restraint, and ultimate respect for another human being. Of course, we understand that Katehi is being publicly shamed, and judged, and the silence is indignantly rhetorical. A less popular version, shot from another angle, its camera operator incessantly “a little behind” and somewhat crouched, had, at the same point in time of this composition, 98,064 views, with a ~55:1 like-to-dislike ratio. Although it is parenthetically and ostensibly “HD, best quality,” it will forever remain a subordinate version of the greater version, the latter’s historicity democratically bestowed by the aesthetic inclinations of the people: they preferred the perpendicular “real time” camera angle, the purplish fragmented light and sporadic halos caused by an array of camera flashes perhaps heightening this eerie inverse Coronation of the Queen. Media accelerates history, and it seems Katehi will go down as the Chancellor of a large liberal California University who was to be held responsible for the violent assault by her police on her civilly disobeying class; and all the PR letters from the Chancellor’s office carefully crafted by administrators with Master’s degrees to both justify and mitigate, could not assuage the gross verity of pepper-spray being casually administered on a group of solemn protesters, whose imminent tears would be heard over cameras, some of them held by the protesters themselves, as they shook and writhed towards vertigo — all emitted through the quicksand of memory known as the internet, in truncated and fragmented versions of the same event, each vying for a piece of history. Sometimes it is difficult to ask a question when the reward of silence has just commenced. What would you have done? I don’t believe there are good people and bad people, and a line in between. That would assume I’m on the right side, and my world ends the moment I believe that. This post is an elegy for seeing things from another angle.