Admitting defeat

Well… I must embarrassingly resign myself as uncultured, and impatient. Swan’s Way by Marcel Proust is just too boring for me to continue.

I think I am missing something, because I don’t understand the draw. It’s not that I can’t handle writing without a narrative, since I loved The Peregrine… but, the lack of narrative in Swan’s Way is not made up with exceedingly beautiful writing… or, not beautiful enough for me anyway. There is just nothing to bring me back to it, or hold my attention once I grudgingly start again.

I think, it is likely something that needs to have attention given to it. But I don’t want to have to give attention. I want my attention taken, and held hostage!

Maybe I’ll try it again when I’m older…

I miss Thinking

In my late teens I used to go sit in all night cafe’s by myself and think for hours on end. I imagined ways in which the world could work, other universes, strange consciousness, other creatures, alien landscapes–all without a smartphone or even a book. Just free refills of coffee and my imagination.

I miss that kind of driven mind-wandering. It wasn’t idle thoughts while waiting for time to pass–I went there specifically to sit and do some hard thinking. That was often my plan for the evening…

I only wish I’d written some of those thoughts down. At the time they seemed unimportant, or things that anyone could be thinking.

But I don’t believe many people think very hard about anything anymore.

I hope thinking isn’t a lost art. Perhaps I just need to meet more thinkers…

Proust: Rambling thoughts, or more?

I’ve started listening to my first Proust, and it’s not very engaging. It is interesting though. Mainly I’m thinking “this guy is just going on about inane memories that can have no importance to anyone other than himself, and yet this is a classic.”

I think that goes to show that you really can write about anything, even thousands and thousands of words about the feeling of drinking a cup of tea, and it will be good if you fill it with passion.

I am early in the book, so maybe it pulls together and connects in some overarching way, or to tell some story. But so far it seems very self-indulgent and meandering. I’m still listening, though….

The world goes on

People you haven’t seen for a dozen years are doing interesting, exciting, boring, frustrating, amazing, awful things. They are making friends, having epiphanies, worrying over tough decisions, and maybe you pop into their head now and then, maybe more or less than they pop into your head.

The strange and huge world of other people’s lives is an endless thing that we can never know or comprehend except the edges, like how you can just barely grasp how huge the universe is if you tilt your mind at just the right angle.

We live in tiny bubbles of experience floating in a sea of other such bubbles, all connected and overlapping, but also isolated. Your world of people is different than mine or anyone’s. Your ecosystem of memories functions differently. You could step two feet and enter another persons world that is completely different from yours–different thoughts, different opinions, different jokes, different interpretations of events, different memories…

All it takes to cross bubbles, is a hello and a conversation…

Infinities

The idea of dying, and being gone forever, never existing again, is scary. But the idea of always existing, forever, with no end no matter what you do, is pretty horrible too.

Maybe humans fear/are repelled by ideas of the infinite because everything we know is finite. Would experiencing something infinite relieve that fear? Maybe, but how to do that…

Doers and preservers

I just listened to the section in Crime and Punishment featuring the talk about Raskolnikov’s article. (very minor spoilers) The article talks about what Raskolnikov calls ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ people, and their differences. The ordinary people, he says, are happy to be ruled and told what to do, and have not many exciting or interesting ideas, and live normal, daily lives of work, family, and happiness. ‘Extraordinary people’ are geniuses, leaders, inventors, and those who ‘create new words’. These people are not as bound by authority, and rules. This being the major point. Ordinary people are bound by the law, extraordinary people are not. Extraordinary people’s conscience allows them to break the law for their ideals/inventions/causes, without guilt, or with some remorse but knowing it’s worth it in the long run. Raskolnikov says these people have ‘the right to break the law’. Not that they have the right to go unpunished, but that their conscience gives them the right to break the law without guilt.

This started me thinking about similar thoughts I’ve had. Not about crime, or punishment, but about people’s reactions toward new ideas in general.

There seems to be (generally) two kinds of people, but instead of ordinary and extraordinary, I thought of them as ‘preservers’ and ‘doers’

Preservers are resistant to change and want to keep things the way they are, or if they want change they want it to be the way something was in the past. When presented with a new idea, new cause, new invention, new way of looking at things, new discovery–they will find the problems with it, the reasons not to embrace it, the reasons it is dangerous and should be avoided, the reasons it is wrong or immoral. This seems to me to be the majority of people, though I do not think that makes them ordinary.

The ‘doers’ are the people who present the new ideas, strive for change in our way of life, make discoveries and propose inventions, etc. They fight passionately for these ideas regardless of the negative consequences, possibly without even looking for or imagining there could be negative consequences. These people seem to be a minority–at least the ones we hear about.

I think we need both kinds of people. We can’t embrace every idea that anyone has, we need the preservers to knock down and find the negative side of every crap idea to prevent them from getting anywhere. The ideas that are strong enough to survive the attacks of the preservers, will eventually convince them.

Of course, someone could be both preserver and doer, and probably most people have a lot of both in them. But it seems that those who make big discoveries and movements and inventions are less negative people who are willing to embrace an idea regardless, or in spite of consequences.

So next time you’re reading the comments on an article about some neat new thing, and run into the inevitable crowd of people finding something wrong with it or dangerous or saying ‘oh no humanity will end because abc,’ try not to be annoyed, and instead be glad–they’re doing a job you don’t have the pain of having to do! (or if you do, I thank you that I don’t have to be the one doing it!)

I FINISHED IT

I got to the end of the Glass Bead Game, finally! And boy… did it disappoint.

The final 20% of the book is several poems and three short stories written by the character whose life we just got a long, tired account of. Two of the three stories were actually really good and I thought the book was going to redeem itself with these, since a lot of what made them good was what you learned about the character who supposedly wrote them. But then.

The third and final story, and finale of the book ends with

Spoiler

IT WAS ALL A DREAM

Yes. Seriously. The climax of the story is that a huge portion of the characters life was all a dream/vision and he had some kind of epiphany from this that life itself is pointless and nothing but struggle and pain, so he recedes from life to be a hermit and focus on inner peace.

 

But come on! Any storyteller should know that this as a climax is awful. If it had not been the FINAL story, and literal end to this book, it wouldn’t have been a terrible story. But as a climax, this is very disappointing and I’d expect an experienced writer to know better.

Yes it was written in the 40’s, and maybe this kind of end wasn’t such an overused trope at the time, but that doesn’t excuse it, as it is just as annoying the first time you experience it.

Anyway. Now it’s finally over and I can stop complaining about it. On to the next thing!