"Tell me what you like and I'll tell you what you are."
- John Ruskin
My name is Hannah Hightman, and this is the digital equivalent of my notebook of inspirations.
It’s common knowledge that it’s much easier to poke holes in things than it is to give them substantial support. Oftentimes, we completely abandon the second endeavor, because it’s seen as cheap, pandering, and stupid. We equate negativity with quality for the simple reason that it’s easier to write well about things we hate.
I get it. There is a lot of writing out there that, while positive, does come across as pandering, and cheap, and appears as though it’s there more to please its subject than its audience. I don’t believe in lying. I don’t believe in idolization. I don’t even really support celebrity culture.
But also, why should spreading negativity be rewarded? Although I completely recognize the need for criticism especially in this day and age (I believe everyone should look at the world with a critical eye), I also believe that it is important to sing the praises of what we love, to describe and substantiate what we like as well as what we dislike. And to share that love with the world, to find others like you! We are defined as much (if not more) by what we love as we are what we hate, and I want to get better at writing about that.
So I decided to create this blog exactly for that purpose. It’s titled Hype, more to describe what this magazine is not, as opposed to what it is. It’s about cutting through the hype to what makes someone worthy of notice, what makes someone’s work quality. After spending years interviewing my favorite creatives on my personal blog, I decided it was time for a spin-off project. I want to explore the depths of my appreciation for something, not superficially support it. I want to know who they love and why they love what they do, too. I want to trace my inspirations to their source. I share my inspirations in hopes that other people will share theirs too, and this sort of tree (if you will) of influences can flower into communities and other creative endeavors catalyzed by that original exploration. Writing cynically about art/artists/creatives breeds further division. I started this in hopes that writing positively about art forges connections.
As David Dark wrote in Life's Too Short to Pretend You're Not Religious, "What do I like and why? Really thinking that one through is as intensely telling as it would be to genuinely try to answer that profound question, 'What are you into?' I’d have to begin with my attention collection, my book of common things, my working palette of lifelong recognitions. Looking at it honestly is a way of taking stock of the way my imagination’s been formed and my behavior shaped, a chronicling of all that’s somehow inspired confidence or a feeling of orienting knowingness within me. I’m also immediately reminded how unceasingly communal this process is. Literacy occurs between people, and it spreads one reading recommendation, one 'You should check this out,' one 'I thought of you' and one playlist at a time."
This blog is essentially a collection of interviews with people from various disciplines whom I admire, whether they have one follower or one million, regardless of clout, regardless of the hype, or lack thereof, surrounding them. Dark is right. Sharing our inspirations is a communal process, and through this blog I hope to create a community of people who value my influences, and see it as an invitation to explore their own likes.