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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of putting it together.

Koenig is then asked about decisions she made with Serial’s decidedly unpatented voice. Co-producer Julie Snyder levels with her after an unsatisfying cut:

Edit after edit after edit… “It’s not working… It’s not good. I need to know what you—Sarah Koenig—make of all this. Otherwise I don’t care. I don’t know why you’re telling me all this… You need to make me care.” I was quite uncomfortable with that initially, but then I realized… That’s the thing that’s going to make you listen to the stuff I think is important.

If that sounds a lot like “Keep your eye on the ball,” you’re not wrong. But rest assured that our culture-making class hadn’t even thought of the ball much less kept an eye on it. (See: testaments to their confidence approximately everywhere you look.) Koenig’s discomforted by the idea that making someone else care is indistinguishable from selling it to them. To name just a few of the principled stands against Caring What Anyone Else Thinks: morning pages and the art-therapy discipline; The Compulsive’s Way—simply not being able to stop; “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching,” or art as vocation (“I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free, where I feel active and present.” —Elena Ferrante, not on Twitter). This has to do with one’s basic orientation as an author: Is art a means to cultivate or to reach? And if you must insist on writing, I have to ask—just how acutely do you feel the need to be borne witness to? Because a singular question harries stories at every turn, echoing the unminced words at the Serial editing bay: What is any of this for? Inevitably, the answer occurs somewhat too late: Making someone else care is the highest commandment of structure.

M.C. Mah


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