Wednesday, 1 August 2012

24 Days and Counting

I'm a mixture of excited, depressed, stressed, and frustrated.  Fortunately that's not all in even proportions.  Actually it depends on the moment and what's going on.  I'm thrilled Emily found us an apartment.  I'm excited to be going to U-M in September.  I'm sad things aren't working out how I'd hoped.  I'm bummed this summer turned out how it did.  I'll miss the park and Al and John and Christie, cause all three of them are just awesome.  I won't miss the angry visitors or having to pretend I really care what people are saying to me when there are fifty things going on at once.  I'll be hours closer to Matt and close enough to visit my family for special occasions.  The money and logistics are incredibly stressful and frustrating, and coupled with the stress at work and home I've had a nasty tension headache-becoming-a-migraine for the last few days.  I've been tracking my symptoms through the PTSD Coach app, and they've been steadily going down most of the summer... until last week.  They shot back up again, not near where they were in the spring when I was feeling non-existant earthquakes, but none of that helps.  I can't really figure why the rage and the fear are back, unless it's because of the move again.  As long as I don't start getting flashbacks again, I suppose I'm okay, right? Heh.  Minds are complicated.

So, I'm three more books down. 月の影 影の海(上), The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451 putting me at 15/24.   月の影 影の海(上)is only part one of a two-part book, so I'll hold off on reviewing that.  The Giver was good, but one of those I imagine would have had a bigger impact when I was a kid.  It's by Lois Lowry, the same woman who wrote Number the Stars, which I loved as a kid.  It's a children's dystopia story from the point of view of a twelve year old.  It's a lot like 1984 in many ways, and a bit like Brave New World in other ways, and basically a dystopia-lite for children.  It kept me reading though (I finished it in about two hours), and I can see it making children think, which is good.  I didn't really get the ending or what it was supposed to mean, though, not going to lie.  If I think of it as a kids' book, I can accept a childish and happy ending that plays on the "magic" of the Giver /Receiver's abilities... but it seemed a bit of a cop-out.  I can see the ending having annoyed me as a kid.  It certainly got a raised eyebrow from me as an adult.  

Fahrenheit 451 has been on my reading list for years, and I'm glad I finally got to read it.  Ray Bradbury's writing style was a bit confusing sometimes.  The dialogues just skipped around a lot, but I liked the concept.  I still think it's freaky that the 1950s dystopia books were so... not really close in actuality, but spot on in concept.  The ideas like removing words losing their meaning thereby concepts like freedom ceasing to exist, masses of people living and working like drones in a society they don't really bother to understand, following wherever the media and pop-culture guides them... We're certainly far from Equilibrium-style control of the government over daily life and thought, but take the numb funk of complete ambivalence that anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds cause and then figure in the percentage of Americans on one or the other, then look at the inane media we're constantly bombarded with (commercials, TV shows - is there even anything showing these days that's not pointless?, movies that barely have a plot or are just more remakes of old movies with barely any plot).  Stand in the middle of a busy pedestrian intersection or in a mall and just watch the people, listen to their conversations.  It's not the dull babble that Bradbury foresees, at least not 100% of the time, but if it's not meaningless words forming sentences that don't actually contribute to anything, it's word-for-word from a news program, some celebrity's current crusade, or a current events blog with what feels like no original thought inserted whatsoever.  I wouldn't think we'd ever go so far as to burn all books or raise a regime that controls people through medications and fear.... but we heavily censor books for school children, 10% of Americans are on some kind of antidepressant, 25% are on sleep medications, and while you aren't likely to get physically attacked for having a dissenting opinion, don't you dare oppose gun-control laws in the presence of a Jim Carrey fan or ask a Jezebel reader why we're so worried about who calls birth control whore-pills when the economy is in the tank and we still have American boots on foreign soil and our soldiers are dying.  That's not to say supporters of tighter gun-control or women concerned about their reproductive rights (my stance: my body, don't try to legislate it) don't have valid opinions, but you're unlikely to get an intelligent discussion or debate and you're very likely to lose a friend over it, which is just sad.  Dissension and debate are important.  I wonder if they started to die off in the 1950s and that's why the dystopia books started getting written.  I'm sure there are dissertations written on the subject - I'm just wondering to myself.  Maybe I'll look it up at some point, see what people have to say.

So that's that and this is long.  I'm going to have to decide which book to read next!  I'm loving having the time to read though.  Still need to finish that Lyndon Johnson biography too... If all the world's books burned.... I would go stark raving mad with boredom!  And then I'd just have to write my crappy stories more to amuse myself.

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