There are some people about whom it is difficult to say anything which would describe them immediately and fully in their most typical and characteristic aspects; these are the people who are usually called ordinary and accounted as the majority and who actually do make up the great majority of society. In their novels and stories writers most often try to choose and present vividly and artistically social types which are extremely seldom encountered in real life and which are nevertheless more real than real life itself. Podkolyosin, viewed as a type, in perhaps exaggerated, but he is hardly unknown. How many clever people having learned from Gogol about Podkolyosin at once discover that great numbers of their friends bear a terrific resemblance to Podkolyosin. They knew before Gogol that their friends were like Podkolyosin, except they did not know yet that that was their name...Nevertheless the question remains before us: what is the novelist to do with the absolutely ordinary people and how can he present them to readers so that they are at all interesting? To leave them out of a story completely is not possible, because ordinary people are at every moment, by and large, the necessary links in the chain of human affairs; leaving them out, therefore, means to destroy credibility. To fill a novel entirely with types or, simply for the sake of interest, strange and unheard-of people, would be improbable and most likely not even interesting. In our opinion the writer must try to find interesting and informative touches even among commonplace people. When, for example, the very nature of certain ordinary persons consists precisely of their perpetual and unvarying ordinariness, or, better still, when in spite of their most strenuous efforts to life themselves out of the rut of ordinariness and routine, then such persons acquire a certain character of their own-the typical character of mediocrity which refuses to remain what it is and desires at all costs to become original and independent, without having the slightest capacity for independence.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
To escape the throngs, we decided to see the new Neil Degrasse Tyson planetarium show, Dark Universe. It costs more than two movie tickets and is less than thirty minutes long, but still I want to go back and see it again, preferably as soon as possible. It was more visually stunning than any Hollywood special effect I’d ever seen, making our smallness as individuals both staggering and - strangely - rather comforting. Only five percent of the universe consists of ordinary matter, Neil tells us. That includes all matter - you and me and the body of Michael Brown and Mork’s rainbow suspenders and the letters I wrote all summer and the air conditioner I put out on the curb on Christmas Day because I was tired of looking at it and being reminded of the person who had installed it and my sad dying computer that sounds like a swarm of bees when it gets too hot and the fields of Point Reyes and this year’s blossoms which are dust now and the drafts of my book and Israeli tanks and the untaxed cigarettes that Eric Garner sold and my father’s ill-fitting leg brace that did not accomplish what he’d hoped for in terms of restoring mobility and the Denver airport and haunting sperm whales that sleep vertically and the water they sleep in and Mars and Jupiter and all of the stars we see and all of the ones we don’t. That’s all regular matter, just five percent. A quarter is dark matter, which is invisible and detectable only by gravitational pull and a whopping 70 percent of the universe is made up of dark energy, described as a cosmic antigravity, as yet totally unknowable. It’s basically all mystery out there - all of it, with just this one sliver of knowable, livable, finite light and life. And did I mention the effects were really cool? After seeing something like that it’s hard to stay mad at anyone, even yourself.
Summer Brennan