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The Past | The Previous

Entertainment Scars.

I was thinking about the disposable quality of entertainment today. Possibly because it's Saturday afternoon, and the world outside is filled with a lazy, empty quality and my plans for tonight got moved to tomorrow night. But possibly not. It's hard to say. Thoughts come and go and the ones that flow into my head do so without any specific reasoning.

Anyhow, I got thinking. Always a bad idea, really, and I returned to my long running thought about entertainment being disposable--which is not a new or original thought--and about the fact that it's made to be consumed, to be used up and then tossed away without much thought given at all.

This is perhaps why poetry and so called literary novels are no longer embraced in huge ways. They're entertainment, but in the social fabric of today, poetry and literacy come with a cultural weight, an importance to it that resists the five minute drop in, drop out mentality that exists within entertainment. Poetry suffers the most, because it's taught as something important, but rarely does it have to be. Last year when I taught in Creative Writing A, Paul Dawson gave a lecture on why bad poetry is often dismissed as not being poetry at all, rather than just the work of a shit poet. His point (and I think I'm chucking a bit of my own opinion in this, since it was a while back now) was that poetry has been given a position in society where it can't be bad, where it has to have a cultural weight, where it's either good poetry... or just not poetry at all. You can see the same thing in literary novels, which is one of the more ridiculous genre terms for fiction. Anyhow, when a literary novel doesn't meet the reader's expectations or fails, it's often dismissed, either by being put into a genre ("It's just a crime novel," it is said about Chandler) or with the all purpose reply, "It wasn't literature."

The result of this is that people, when confronted with literature and poetry, have the misconception that they will have to appreciate it more and that they will have to give it more attention. It's a bit ridiculous. You take what you take from any form of entertainment, and you can read it on a literal of figurative level, or both, depending on what takes your fancy.

Still, what I was thinking about, was how entertainment scars you, much in the way a tattoo does.

Tattoos, it was once said to me, mark you for the person you once were. They operate as a sign on your skin for who you were when you got it, and what you were going through. Now, I don't have tattoos, myself, but that's always struck me as the reason to have one. To mark a moment. A time. The achievement of something that matters in your life. What I would be marked for and what I wouldn't is my business and I don't intend to get into that, thank fuck, but still, that's how I look at it. Of course, I know people with tattoos who aren't into it for that reason. For them, it's about art, about the body, and about a whole lot of other things that aren't something I can properly argue and which is best left to them. Besides which, that side of it doesn't suit my argument, so you'll have to excuse me as I gloss over it.

In my post about music, I made note of once liking Metallica, which I did. I don't much have a thing for them now, and indeed, haven't bought any of their recent albums, but the simple fact that I liked them works much like a tattoo, in that it has scarred me for a time. When I look back, I can see the different between the fourteen year old me then, and the twenty eight year old me now. It's like looking at a reflection in a mirror at the end of the hall. Lift my hand, wave, and the mirror does it, but the mirror me has long hair, band t-shirts, busted up sneakers, ripped jeans, and maybe a little too much of what would eventually become grunge in him. It's a person that's marked by his consumption of Metallica, Anthrax, Guns N Roses, and so on and so forth of bands like that. It's the person who is marked by his consumption of monster fantasy series like the Eddings' Belgariad, Feist's Magician, Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance books, and Brooks' series, the name of which I've forgotten how to spell.* There was television, most of which is eluding me with the exception of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and movies like Terminator 2, Aliens, Star Wars and, oddly, Disney films. It's a pretty boring list, but it's whatever allowed me to get my mind out of school and life, y'know?

When I look back at those marks, there's the cringe factor for those tastes. I have to admit that. Most of that stuff I came into contact through friends, since there was no internet, and no nurturing world for anything resembling thought in that prison of a High School I want to.** Not, naturally, that I showed any. But I'm not one to cut that place any slack and still, my point remains:

The person I am now is not the person who once liked those things, but I live with the scars left by digesting those pieces of entertainment.*** The knowledge that resides in the back of my head is the first part to beginning the recollection in my memory of the teenager I was, the world that I came from. The scars of this entertainment consumption can't be erased, because I can't ever fully forget them, and so they sit there, a bit faded, the colour of flesh, sure, but like the long strip of ridged, burnt flesh I have on the inside of my right leg, from where I got my leg trapped and burnt it on the muffler of a motorbike when I was eight. Sure, it has become smaller as I've grown, but it's there.

It'll always be there.

Maybe entertainment is not as disposable as I sometimes think.

* In case you're wondering, I thought Lord of the Rings was shit, even then. Fucking Hobbits.

** It really does look like a prison. Maybe I'll go and take photos of it.

*** It occurs to me that scars is perhaps too invasive a word to be using now, but I'm not truly bothered by this. Still, if you're thinking, that's a bit overly dramatic, then yeah, you're probably right.


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Feb. 12th, 2005 07:58 am (UTC)
Bon Jovi. Livin on a Prayer. Grade Seven.
Feb. 12th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
year six.

so much hair.
Feb. 12th, 2005 08:29 am (UTC)
I've heard it said that the reason we celebrate milestones like birthdays, wedding, anniversaries, etc, is to mark moments, too. To take a moment out of the onward rush-rush of life, to pause.

Seems to me you're right: when we immerse ourselves in a band or a book, we may not know it, but we could be building more moments. Not for the sake of anything -- not so we have more/better memories -- not for any sort of reason, just because that's what we do. We are moment-building machines.

Not all books & bands wind up as moments in our lives, though, & you generally don't realise, while you're deep in the midst of it, that you've created a moment. It's only retrospect that makes that clear.


(Yeah, I loved Metallica, too. Don't tell me we agree on music for once, how embarrasing for you ...)
Feb. 12th, 2005 09:50 am (UTC)
it's not the first time we've agreed on music. probably won't be the last. thought, you know, i don't think we'll be agreeing on what violent end darren hayes should be getting...

anyhow, that's interesting about birthdays. i generally don't celebrate mine, but maybe i should for that reason. (likely, i won't.) maybe we should concentrate on making nice little moments for ourselves in the world, which'll add up to nice lives.

or not.
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
I'm big on the celebration of moments, myself. I always pause for birthdays.

maybe we should concentrate on making nice little moments for ourselves in the world, which'll add up to nice lives.

Yeah, I think that's a valid theory. Why not? What else does it mean to have a 'nice life'? A moment, a celebration, time spent with friends. Where else is happiness found?

And you KNOW what you music nazis can do, my friend ... :)
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:11 am (UTC)
don't make me organise a death camp for musicians, dear. hmm. wait. i think that might actually be a valid solution...

bad taste aside, i always avoided birthdays because they previously sucked. then they moved into meaning nothing to me. i don't know if i'll ever be able to manage more than that.

happiness can be found in many places. bottles, pills... ;)
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
happiness can be found in many places. bottles, pills... ;)

Eh, I prefer my method. :) Give it a go sometime. I dare you.
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:45 am (UTC)
you're always daring me for things like that. it's always people with you... i told you, i'm done with people. i'm clean.
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:08 am (UTC)
Chicken! ... bokbokbokBORRRK!
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:15 am (UTC)
what, are we still in primary? i don't bait so easy anymore. not since i saw BACK TO THE FUTURE 3 and realised that it ain't no thing to be called chicken.


no thing.
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:20 am (UTC)
what, are we still in primary?

Hey, I've reliving part of my past. (Chicken!)
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
takes one to know one!
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:41 am (UTC)
Sez you! Nyar nyar ....
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:45 am (UTC)
you girl!
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:35 am (UTC)
A very interesting entry. I liked a lot of the same fantasy novels as you, and I'm almost the same age as you-there is something very nostaglic about those days. I remember reading David Eddings books in like a night of serious reading. They were great fun. It was like I just read what liked and din't care if it was classified as "serious literary", sci-fi, fantasy, whatever. Great times.

I must admit I am huge collector of pop culture artefacts, like CDS, books, DVDs of movies and old TV shows-sometimes I think I relive my past, with different eyes. Does that make sense?
Feb. 12th, 2005 10:49 am (UTC)
i think we all relive our past, in bits. i myself recently bought the original japanese episodes of ROBOTECH. (the difference is huge.) i don't reckon it's a bad thing to go and do, but i don't do it a lot--i like to find new things, to keep going forward, or what i perceive to be forward, since i figure there's no real backwardsness.

i think we were right on the cusp on the fantasy era, man. our teenage selves are probably responsible for the state of it now.
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:25 am (UTC)
I wonder what IS the current state of fantasy today. I don't read hardly any new fantasy, altho my flatmate still does-he recommends Robin Hobbs, I think. I haven't read a page so far. I am reading a lot of old classics, what I guesss you call "literature", a lot of Philip K Dick, and I have just bought a set of raymond Chadler-I've heard good things...as for fantasy, I don't know...of course I also read a lot of comics!
Feb. 12th, 2005 11:31 am (UTC)
the current state is that it sells more than science fiction, and it sells in trilogies. i've heard okay things about hobbs, but i've no real interest in it these days.

i never did much like philip k. dick, either. i haven't read much, but what i did never made me jump. but i wouldn't call it literature just because it's old. you can have new literature, i guess.

chandler is good, though.
Feb. 12th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
OK so it still sells in trilogies-that fits with what I see in the stores. Yeh I find it hard to care too much about what they are doing these days.

Fo me Philip K Dick is like a complete mindfuck. I love him. My favorite book is "Valis", but its not really one to "start out" on. :-)

You can *definitely* have new literature but am I the only one who feels completly out of his depth when I enter a bookstore? no wonder I head for the classics! I guess if I get as close tabs on the "literary world" as I do on the comic book world, i'd be better equipped.

Right now I am reading the "EarthSea Quartet" by Ursula Le Guin-its awesome. I have just started tho.
Feb. 12th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)
i like the browse on amazon.com. it's a nice way to pick up new authors, to have a good look at an author i haven't seen, then do the web crawling. thus i don't feel so overwhelmed when i walk into bookstores. i also rely on word of mouth, and i know a bunch of people with taste i respect, so it's good that way.

i was told, actually, that fantasy trilogies are a favourite of publishers because each follow up volume creates more sales for the book before it, or some such thing. there's a whole business aspect to it. at the same time, people tell me it's more expensive to publish big books than it is to publish medium sized ones, because the freight costs push up the profit margin or some such thing. i'm not a big business person, but occasionally i think those two things can't much help each other. either way, strikes me as bizarre, but i'm no expert on that side.

the dick book i've read is DO ANDRIODS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP, which i thought was well written, but didn't make a lick of sense overall.
Feb. 12th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
Good point about Amazon. have u read a book called "The Lovely Bones"? I can't remember the author, but in the book, a girl about 12 is raped and killed, and she watches the affect of that action from a kind of heaven. Its a remarkable book. I lent it to someone and never got it back. :-( But its a great book-in real life, the author was raped at an early age. But the book is somehow not all really sad and tragic!

"Do Androids Dream..." is pretty cool, but if ain't your bag, it just ain't. :-)

hehe the other book i am reading is William Shatner's "Star Trek Movie Memories"-its cool!!! (I know u like him too!) Its his thoughts on making the Star Trek movies, up to and including "Generations". Gotta love the Shat Man.
Feb. 12th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC)
no, i haven't read the lovely bones. heard about it, however. and isn't it the film peter jackson plans to make next?

i think i'm just good with shatner as a musician. i'm not too keen on reading autobiographies about him, since i've never been into him that much. in fact, no one is more surprised by my joy with the shatner album than i am.
Feb. 13th, 2005 06:58 am (UTC)
Hehe "shatner as a musician"! That’s a laugh in itself. :-) His CD is awesome, tho. I like the old guy. I just went and saw "The Aviator" and it had a preview of "Miss Congeniality 2", perhaps not the best of films in itself, but it had the Shat Man reprising his role from the first one-his catch cry when taken hostage and begging for his life-"I'm not as old as I look!" funny stuff.
Feb. 13th, 2005 11:36 am (UTC)
is THE AVIATOR worth seeing? i thought GANGS OF NEW YORK was a waste of space, personally, and i've been hesitant on this.
Feb. 13th, 2005 12:03 pm (UTC)
Its AWESOME. "Gangs of New York"-I agree, yawnfest. But this, one of the most intruiging characters of the 20th century, Howard Hughes, and a whole stack of starlets, played beauitfully by all the actors involved-I tell you, this is awesome. See it dude! Its great drama.
Feb. 13th, 2005 12:21 pm (UTC)
if i don't come back thinking it's awesome, i can pluck your eyes out, right?

Feb. 13th, 2005 12:57 pm (UTC)
I reckon you'll like it, man. I really enjoyed it! As for my eyes, well, lets just say I'll let you abuse me on the internet! *lol* That's shame enough!!! :-)
Feb. 12th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't recommend 'The Lovely Bones' --it is well-written and there are some moving moments but it completely falls apart at the end where unbelievable (in the context of the story) things start to happen. If you want to try some Alice Sebold (and she is worth it) read "Lucky". It's shorter and better. (in my humble voracious reading opinion.)

Good entry, Ben. I read in one of my buddhist philosophy works once that you should be careful of the images that pass your eyes, including entertainment, because they become a part of you forever.
Feb. 13th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)
to be honest, i wasn't much interested in any of sebold's books. they didn't grab my interest, i guess.
Feb. 13th, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC)
As far as I know she's just got the two books. She was too busy being a druggie before this to write. I really didn't think it would be something you would pick up of your inclination but everyone goes on and on about the lovely bones and her non-fiction Lucky is just hands down better. So it was more of a PSA, I guess.
Feb. 13th, 2005 08:00 am (UTC)
yum yum
i rate entertainment especially movies to food.

some movies are like junk food, tasty, good to look at, easy to get, but in the end is bad for you and have no useful substance for your being.

documentaries are like vegetables, peas, green leaves or something, carrot... not exactly what you want to eat but you know its good for you.

good movies are like a good dinner. delicious, nutricous, in the end you feel satisfied.

great movies are similar but in the end you feel profound, you feel elated, you feel an energy boost that just lifts you up. profound.

other movies are like foreign exotic dish, like sushi or some foreign dish from the himalayas or something.. you know something different, something for the adventurous but it will leave a taste that you will never forget.

hehehehe now im hungry.
Feb. 13th, 2005 11:35 am (UTC)
Re: yum yum
i actually like documentries/non fiction--sometimes i like them more than fictional entertainment. i even find that some of the styles used to narrate are quite similar.

can't stand peas and carrots, though :)
Feb. 13th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
The entertainment scar that is most memorable in the "why-did-I-ever-think-this-was-great" manner are the Covenant books by Donaldson.

They resonated very strongly with me when I was nineteen and a college friend handed them to me, saying, "you're turning into this guy."

I tried picking them up to re-read two winters ago, after I turned forty, and couldn't get through the first half of the first book. Chokeholds of unnecessary verbiage.
Feb. 14th, 2005 11:35 am (UTC)
did they mean you were turning into the character or the author?

btw, did you end up reading the new book? i never got into the donaldson stuff, so i just gave it a pass.
Feb. 19th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC)
Dennis, the fellow who handed me LORD FOUL'S BANE, meant that I was turning into Thomas Covenant.

However, there are times when I can be Donaldson, too. A quote for whom I can never remember the credit about Donaldson fits me too.... "what you'd get if Eeyore swallowed a thesaurus."

I need to read more and write more about kittens and bunnies. Although for me, it will forever be a kitten-eat-bunny world.

I haven't sought out the new Donaldson, but I may give it a look-in for old times' sake.
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