Monday, September 8, 2014

Eh, What Do I Know?

Many years ago back in the mists of time when I was a younger and less wise Dave-El, I was taking a creative writing course as one of my electives. Through high school, I fancied myself to be a writer although I never wrote anything of consequence. Mostly it was just cool ideas in my head which, in and of itself, does not make one a writer. As I posted once or twice before, a writer writes. (Which is one of the reasons I do this blog, to force myself to write something, anything, in order to develop those skills. Also, I'm very bored.)  

So I got to college and figured, it's time to take all these wonderful ideas and make them real as stories. Man, did I write some pretentious drivel, all full of angst and yearning. But I was trying to be a SERIOUS writer. Instead given the dogs I was writing, I was more of a "Sirius" writer. (Get it? "Sirius"? The dog star? No? C'mon, that's some Oscar Wilde stuff there, for crying out loud!) 

In this class we would read each other's stories and offer critiques in class. One time this young woman wrote a story about a traveller who encounters and spends some time with a hippie. Now this is in the early 1980's and American culture had, to my thinking, relegated hippies to dust bin of misbegotten movements. So when it came time for my review, I cited the unrealistic nature of the hippie in the story as an anachronism. From the rest of the class I learned two very important things: 

1) The hippie was supposed to be out of his time, a holdover from the peace and love era of the late 1960's/early 1970's. This is what made the character interesting and funny. 

2) I did not know how to pronounce "anachronism". Much to my surprise, I learned it is NOT pronounced "anna ka risum".  

It is important to note that tastes do vary and not everyone is going to have same opinion about everything. Nobody said I had to like this story. But if I'm not going to like something, I should not like for it is and not for what I think it is. It's important to actually pay attention to what a work of art is actually saying; in the end, I may still not like it but hopefully I've given it a fair assessment on its terms. 

We can't completely discount personal perception and bias in our opinions. For example, in the case of the young woman's story, maybe my view of her story would be influenced by my experiences; perhaps I met a hippie who stole money from me so maybe I wouldn't view hippies favorably. No writer can do anything about the potential bias of any given reader. But for good or ill, I needed to see the story that the writer so helpfully put in front of me. 

Maybe it's possible that the element of satire involving a hippie out of his time wasn't clear. Except every single student in the class got it. Except me. Years later, I happened across this story in some old junk from college and I got it. I was incredulous with my younger self for not seeing what was there on the page. 

I thinking about this topic because yesterday I posted a review of this past Saturday's Doctor Who episode, Robot of Sherwood. I liked the episode fine but found myself put off by the sudden appearance at the very end of a character with little or no prior build up. Turns out this character's appearance had been seeded earlier in the episode. Well, maybe the writer or the director or whoever didn't do a good job of connecting the dots if I didn't see that.

Except every singe Whovian I talked all said the same thing: "I saw the connection." 

And I didn't. 

Maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself. I know people who have watched Citizen Kane and didn't realize what Rosebud was.

SPOILER:it was the sled. <<<-----highlight this

More often that not, my observations of pop culture...movies, TV, music, etc...seem to be in line with most others. There is a certain zeitgeist that occurs when everybody comes together independently to decide that something is good or that it sucks. 

But sometimes I find myself on the outside looking in. A great example was from about 28 years ago, more or less, and the release of Howard the Duck. Yes, the universally reviled film from George Lucas based on the Marvel Comics character created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik. That Howard the Duck. I went to see it and no, it wasn't the best movie I had ever seen but for some reason, I liked it. I liked just fine. Why in heaven's name I don't know. Maybe it was because of Lea Thompson? I don't know but I just did. 

But eh, what do I know? 

Be good to one another.

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Postscript: I thought about adding a picture of Howard the Duck but decided, nah, I would rather look at Lea Thompson. Here's pic from her TV series, Caroline In the City, which I enjoyed quite a lot so there.  






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