Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

The success of normality

Reading Time: 2 minutes

” Sabrina” by Nick Drnaso, an American cartoonist and illustrator was the first graphic novel to ever be nominated for the Man Booker British award in English literature. What I found intriguing is the boring look of its drawings.

The Guardian describes it as a ” narrative [that] touches with perfect ease on such contemporary matters as fake news, the isolation of the digital age, conspiracy theories and gun control (subjects that many traditional novelists seem determined to avoid).” But that is beyond Drnaso’s intentions. He said, ” Actually, though, I set it in the near future purely for boring, functional reasons, I didn’t consider at all what that near future might look like.”

Interviewed by the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, contrary to the focus most stories give on perpetrators, he says that” in my book, I wanted to make the opposite. I wasn’t interested in the crime, or the perpetrator, but in the other characters, the normal kind, the boring, those who suffer (…). I wanted to focus on the repetitive aspect of ordinary life, show desolated offices, empty parking lots, highways no one travels.”

Then, the million dollar question. How did he make his readers experienced boredom as interesting?

Intuition.

An act to face the anxiety experienced at the time and Drnaso says ” I thought I could use the story to work those things through.” Did it worked? No. ” When I finished it, I flipped into a major depression. I thought: this is a Pandora’s box I never should have opened. I believed I was paying some kind of psychic price for it.” – says Drnaso – but the success eventually came, the prizes and the recognition of Sabrina as a masterpiece of our time. It’s the success of normality because it is the closest image to how we actually live.

In the digital age, of selfies, YouTubers, the normal became the exception. And boredom might be the door opening the human mind to its greatest trait, creativity.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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