Solidarity: More Summer Reading, and a Digression

wboriginal.gifIn solidarity with Dave, and in hopes of choosing an enjoyable and easy read, I have picked up Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys. Something to pick me up out of the emotional hole that Blood Meridian dug for me. Fifty pages in and I have to agree with Brian Beglin: the book is better than the movie. And all of the sappiness and romanticization of writing programs aside, the movie was damn good.

I guess its better for one reason: everything is written through Grady Tripp’s perspective. Tripp gets to drift in and out at will and he gets as many opportunities to fill in his history as he likes. And Michael Douglas’ outstanding performance of him was what makes me watch the movie again from time to time.

So, Chabon is good in my book so far.

As for the other books… My Life is still going good, though I’ve only be reading a poem every other day or so. Genesis has become exhausting, what with its hundreds of short entries. It has some great moments, though. Along with Howard Zinn, Eduardo Galeano remains a favorite historian / political writer.

There was a sentence in My Life that really hit me the other day. I’ve been meaning to blog about it, and now that Theresa has blogged about her desire to rediscover some of the more meaningful things of adolescence that have been pushed aside over the years, it’s come back to mind. I have to set it up with some of the surrounding sentences, to give you a sense of what the context created by the style of these poems is like:

The pair of stunted, ancient apricot trees yielded ancient, stunted apricots. What was the meaning hung from that depend. The sweet aftertaste of artichokes. The lobes of autobiography. Even a minor misadventure, a bumped fender or a newsstand without newspapers, can “ruin the entire day,” but a child cries and laughs without rift. The sky droops straight down. I lapse, hypnotized by the flux and reflux of the waves.(from “Like plump birds along the shore,” pp. 27-8)

There is a solidity, an inertia to mood that gets heavier and harder to shake off as an adult. In December last year, I was walking around campus. I had just become so used to my surroundings that I could ignore them almost completely and still get around fine. It occurred to me, though, that this “freedom,” I suppose you could call it, was not necessarily a good thing. It did allow me to withdraw into my thoughts, to not be distracted by concerns of location as I moved from one place I knew to another place I knew. My eyes and feet knew what to do without my mind needing to intervene. But then, just being absorbed in one’s thoughts is another form of distraction…

I’ve drifted off topic. Maybe. What I was getting at is that one can still look at those buildings and streets and trees and such that one has seen a hundred times or more and NOT be automatically inclined to be indifferent toward them. The first time you see something and the third time are different mostly because of expectations that have been learned, but we all know that expectations do not hold up all the time. Functional, yes, but hardly the foundation of any experiential understanding of reality.

So I look at the things around me every once in a while. They exist, as much as that can be said about anything. They have a continuity, whether it is a seemingly frozen continuity, like a building, or a continuity of action or habit, like a car, or a person, that you expect to keep doing certain things at specific places or types of place. When I have to wait for a bus, or I just have nothing to do, I like to watch this continuity, this inertia. I’m more aware of my presence in relation to the presences around me.

I always did like to watch things. Maybe that’s something I want to get back to from my adolescence. I hope any of this makes sense to anyone other than me. Maybe it doesn’t.

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One thought on “Solidarity: More Summer Reading, and a Digression

  1. My only issue with Wonder Boys is that I saw the movie first, so I couldn’t help but hear the book narrated by Michael Douglas. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m curious how it would have read had I not seen the movie.

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