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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.

Comments

benpeek
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.
redlantern2051
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.
benpeek
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.
redlantern2051
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.
benpeek
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.
redlantern2051
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.
benpeek
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.
redlantern2051
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.
benpeek
Feb. 13th, 2005 12:21 pm (UTC)
if i don't come back thinking it's awesome, i can pluck your eyes out, right?

:)
redlantern2051
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!!! :-)