Anonymous said: "It's a metaphor" I have no doubt that you completely understand and stand by this statement that the act of putting an unlit cigarette in Augustus Waters' mouth is in fact a metaphor. But for some folks, we don't see it asa metaphor, we see it as situational irony, or a simple statement. Please explain how it is a metaphor.
Well, a character in a novel saying that something is a metaphor is not the same thing as the author of the novel saying that it’s a metaphor. Gus’s intellectual grasp often exceeds his reach (he calls a monologue a soliloquy, and misuses quite a few of the bigger words in his vocabulary). But I do think the cigarette is a metaphor, albeit a different one for us than it is for him.
Gus’s idea is that the cigarette is a metaphor for illness, and he keeps it unlit and in his mouth as an expression of his power over illness. “You put the killing thing between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” Gus’s thinking here is that HE has the power. This is why he tends to use the cigarette when he’s feeling nervous or powerless. (He’s also using the most famous commercially available carcinogen to make this statement, so obviously there’s a connection there in his mind: Humans can prevent cancer by not smoking; cancer is something we can have power over; your job is not to give cancer the power to kill you; etc.)
But of course Gus is wrong about all of this, or at least almost all of it. You may have SOME control over whether you die of cancer (you can choose not to smoke), but in most cases humans don’t have control over illness. “You don’t give it the power to do its killing” imagines more agency over illness than we actually have, because in the end much of the fault is in the stars, not in ourselves. So to us, the unlit cigarette is a metaphor for our false perception of control, and our urgent need to feel in control. It’s no coincidence, then, that when Gus’s life is spiraling out of control and he finds himself powerless before fate, he tries (and fails) to buy cigarettes.
Brilliant explanation from author John Green. I love the fact that he is able to quietly make his characters that much more real by having them use language incorrectly, as people often do, despite the fact that he himself knows better.
So, I don’t use my tumblr as much as I should, as there are a lot of people on it I’d like to follow more. I thought I would revive it and make a post. For background, I was head of Guest Relations for three years for a major convention, and still work for and am very good friends with the people who still run that convention. This is my perspective as someone who has been deeply involved in the planning of very large conventions, and attending many smaller ones (and a couple of the bigger ones too). It’s also crossposted from my facebook.
So, after reading a lot of things on this whole DashCon deal, I don’t think that the convention was a scam, or that there was anything intentionally underhanded going on. I think it was a bunch of special snowflakes thinking they would put together a convention, with the expectation that things would go well, everyone would want to be there, and that they would be admired and thanked for putting it together. I think that they had no real knowledge of what it takes to put on a con, and what to expect their first year.
Here is the list of mistakes I saw, in no particular order.
1. Refusal of help - I have on good authority that the convention runners refused help from more experienced convention heads. The help was offered, but they thought they could handle it.
Source: a facebook group I’m in for convention runners.
2. Gross overestimation of attendance - They were anticipating between 3000 and 7000 attendees. Anyone who has ever even attended a convention should know what for a first year, that is a ridiculous expectation.
Source: DashCon 2014 Basic Info Page
3. Lack of advertisement - From what I’ve gathered, they attended a few cons and passed out flyers, but most people, even very regular tumblr users, had no idea about this convention until it started going down in flames. And for a convention that is based around a social media platform, that seems especially disappointing.
Source: DashCon at 221B , and a majority of the people TALKING about DashCon were NOT actually there and hadn’t heard of it until things fell apart (myself included)
4. A huge lack of actual adults on staff - I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a fifteen year old to run panels or make schedules, but for the most part, they are not capable of running an event on the scale of a convention, and it seems there was a lot of staff that was underage.
Source: Former DashCon Committee Head Explains (with many screenshots)
5. I think I can explain the infamous 17K - I don’t believe that it was a scam, per se. When you plan an event such as this with a hotel, generally you guarantee the hotel that they will have a certain number of room nights sold. This is how you get convention rates for the rooms, and often discounts on the convention space as well. They were originally thinking they would have at least 3000 people, and probably told the hotel as much. I do believe there was a verbal agreement with the hotel that, despite the written contract terms, they were willing to receive the money over the course of the convention, based on projected numbers. However when Friday came around and got going, and the hotel saw that they were SEVERELY under the amount of room nights they were told, they were no longer willing to take that risk, and wanted their money right then, since they no longer felt there was a guarantee they would receive their money.
Source: Years of experience involved as staff at conventions
6. There seems to have been no separate bank account purely for the convention - People were using personal accounts attached to PayPal. This obviously created difficulties with getting people paid, since there was no master BANK account with which to pay them. PayPal does not have the same abilities of an actual bank account.
Source: Same as Problem 4
7. No actual departments - Outside of security, from what I can tell, there were no actual departments. So there was no specific person or group of people responsible for the different aspects of the convention such as taking care of the special guests, scheduling and panels, merchandising, advertising, or technical requirements. There was no clear hierarchy or chain of command. Which leads to another problem.
Source: Same as Problem 4
8. SEVERE lack of communication - The convention was organized as a bunch of fandom-based committees, and the admins. Committee heads were assigned based on who asked first, and they were told conflicting things depending on which admin they asked about something. They were given no clear list of expectations, and not much help in achieving the things they -were- told to do (which varied sometimes within the same day) Committees were also formed and dissolved within months because the person who offered to run them would disappear, either from lack of interest or lack of feedback/guidance from the admins.
Source: Same as Problem Four.
9. Dramamongering and lack of PR skills - In the post where they begged for the 17K, the reasoning they mention is that they don’t think the hotel liked the convention or its attendees, and that’s why they changed the terms. This is really unprofessional. There’s video of one of the staff (admins?) claiming he was trying to control a “riot” of “five thousand” in the room when they were collecting the 17K. Looking at that room, I’m saying it was closer to 600 people, and they actually seems reasonably under control considering the chaotic situation. The announcement of Nightvale leaving was not handled well at all. It should have simply been at the time that “Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, Nightvale will not be able to perform. We regret that we were not able to tell you this sooner, and we will be offering <blah> to those that had paid extra for reserved seating.” Or something along those lines. They aired a lot of dirty laundry that they should have kept to themselves in attempts to make themselves look more sympathetic, thus damaging their chances of getting any good guests in the future, should they choose to continue (which it seems they are).
TL;DR - They had poor organization, poor advertising, poor planning, poor communication, poor management of expectations and poor PR skills, all of which led to this spectacular flame out.
EDITED AT 11:27p for minor typos and to provide sources.