My name is Jonah Bromwich and I live in New York City and write about music, books, movies, random pop culture, and sometimes, the world. I started this blog about a week before I graduated college in 2011. As of now it's for any thoughts that I feel are worthy of blogdom. I will try not to write about things I know nothing about.
This is, ostensibly, a drawing of Haruki Murakami. It was done by Jaime Hernandez.
I’ve got to say, I really love Haruki Murakami. He’s so unpretentious and so matter of fact, and so are his characters. I’m reading his essay about starting to run and in it, just like in his fictional work, he has a gift of writing about his routines that makes the ritual of repetition seem lovely. The things in the world that are the most dull—going to work everyday, running, sitting in a hole in the ground—are imbued with nobility, with a romantic weight that makes them worthwhile.
Murakami manages this feat partly by way of his short blocky sentences, which are curt and difficult to misunderstand, and partly in his ability to communicate sensory details without overwriting. (The latter skill is also what makes him one of the best erotic writers in literary fiction; he never seems awkward or labored.) I’ve compared him to Paul Auster in the past, for his naturalistic style, which incorporates fantasy without seeming to blink. But Auster, for all his strengths, still has the pretension of an American novelist, and it shows. Murakami does not come across as “writerly” or as a “writerer,” to use Tom Scocca’s term. His fiction is enormously accessible, so much so that it can be easy to forget how strange it is.
Anyway, here’s the essay that sparked this short reflection.
When there’s a startup that sells, for example, or there’s a startup that’s super successful and is growing, people’s view of who drove the success is very highly correlated to who they know at the company. Chris Dixon will say, “Oh, HuffPost is really a tech company and Jonah was a big important part of it.” Because he knows me. But then someone who’s friends with Arianna will say, “Arianna’s a force of nature. She is constantly on TV. She was the name and the voice of the site. Her blog posts were constantly in the news cycle. That’s where the site mattered.” If you talk to someone who knows Kenny, they’re like, “Oh, Kenny was behind the scenes, building this whole thing and planning this out. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again.”
That’s true, not just for HuffPost. It’s true with most companies. The thing you’re closest to, you think has the biggest impact. That, I think, is the cognitive bias that makes it hard for me to answer the question. The system as a whole matters so much. Any one of us who thinks that they’re solely responsible for the success of the company is, by definition, wrong, and the relationship between all the different pieces of the company has to be strong.
In some cases, there’s things that aren’t even measurable. Like maybe just having tech, edit, and business teams communicating effectively, is more important. The lines might be more important than the dots.
Jonah Peretti, in his must-read interview with Felix Salmon at Medium.
Guardian interview with Jonathan Glazer, Director of Under the Skin