Vast Extras: Jonathan D Clark

Personal Notes for The Video

I feel it’s safe to say we all find ourselves fascinated by tragedy, its unfortunate circumstance holding our attention long after the events have faded into the weathered backdrop of human history. And with our ability to now capture such moments in time on camera, they become immortalized —available to play back the horrific scene and analyze it frame-by-frame.

But why? Has it always been there to some degree? this peculiar desire to be a witness to something, to be able to look back and say, “I remember where I was when it happened.” I’ve seen it take place when people in their sixties and seventies speak of the Kennedy assassination, recalling the memory as if it happened yesterday. Even I have participated in the solemn recollection of remembering where I was (what I was doing, who I was with, how I felt) the morning of 11 September 2001. It was a strange phenomenon, an odd sense of community and togetherness among strangers, which lead me to explore the idea with my short story The Video.

The main challenge came down to its execution. I knew I wanted the narrative to read as clinical as possible, leaving any breath of emotion reliant on the reader as they consumed every word on the page—much like one would as they watched a news broadcast. Because of this, I felt writing The Video in the second person present tense was the most logical (and appropriate) choice—by separating the audience from the event, much like it would to view a tragic news story secondhand through the unaffected tone of a TV reporter.

And just as we consume tragedy in its digitized form, we participate in the same recursive behavior by rereading our favorite literary conquests . . . knowing how the story will unfold as a whole, but uncovering new details with every subsequent passing. Perhaps we find comfort in familiarity, even if what we surround ourselves with is tragic at its core.

~ Jonathan D Clark

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