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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 ... :)
(no subject) - benpeek - Feb. 12th, 2005 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
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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!
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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.
(no subject) - bodhichitta0 - Feb. 13th, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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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