Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday

Hi everyone! Puddleglum here! Dad really wants to do this Thoughtful Thursday, so I guess I'll let him...

So, this is Puddleglum's Dad! Today is September 11, 2008, and a very tragic thing happened seven years ago. I was at college in Indiana that morning, and got up to go to class and noticed on the way that there were an inordinate amount of people in the lobby crowded around the TV. I stopped in and realized that one plane had hit the tower. It felt surreal, but not quite devastating yet.

I was watching as the second plane hit. First of all, it was supremely disturbing to see how closely it mirrored the “fake” explosions in Hollywood movies. It made the real thing more fake and the fake thing more real, at the same time. That was when it all sunk in for me. By the time I saw footage of people jumping from the burning towers, I was shaking.

When they collapsed, there was total silence in the room for about 30 minutes. Then the rush started to get gas, food supplies, and other necessities. I’ll never forget that feeling of being at war, and having “worst-case scenario” be frighteningly possible.

We should never forget, but we should never exploit this experience either. It's probably pretty obvious where my political/philosophical inclinations lie, so I won't reiterate them now. I will say most fervently that both sides of the political aisle are EQUALLY to blame, in my opinion, for the travesty we find ourselves in now-- both domestically and abroad. It is my fervent hope that we will learn from this situation the depths to which we all can sink, and aim to be better than we are in the future.

Also, as a brief Thoughtful Thursday update, I am taking down the "Join the Boycott" banner at the top of my right-hand column, because there is now a notice clearly posted on the Four Paws website warning customers of the danger inherent in the toy. Chai's owner still thinks he was treated rather shabbily by the company, and I won't try to have an opinion on that apart from noting that there are always two sides to every story. That being said, it is crucial if we are to effect change that we reward it when it happens. So, I am no longer advocating a boycott of Four Paws. Hopefully they have learned their lesson.

Finally, on to the real Thoughtful Thursday! I steal all my ideas, and this one came from Poley and Ruki. Their mom noticed the super-long book meme/list that was going around the blogosphere, and decided to shorten it to the "Five Most Important Books" in her life. I like it, so I'm stealing it.

5. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I have a very snarky, sly, and slightly askew sense of humor. This was the book that started it all for me. I read it first in 8th grade and found it hilarious, but somewhat frivolous. I rediscovered it my sophomore year of college (when I started taking Philosophy courses) and have since re-read it well over 5 or 6 times. Every time, its twisted genius sinks in more and more both into my brain and my expression of my personality. This was also the beginning of my lifelong obsession with all things English, to be consummated by #1 on this list.
(side note): The movie was good, but not up to the standards I expected for such a brilliant book. I would recommend it to people of the above-mentioned disposition who have not read the book already.

4. Paradise Lost
This one I discovered relatively late (after graduating college), but was nonetheless hugely significant and inspiring. I was raised a Christian by my parents, and still am one, although certainly not of the conservative evangelical type I was originally. Thus, the story of Satan's and Adam/Eve's fall is one that has deep roots in my own personal mythology, and to see it put to paper so vividly and uniquely was a treat for my imagination. The reason why this one is so formative to me is that it opened me up to meta-scholarship of literature. Until this point, my literary experiences were individual-- with this book, I began to be aware of the larger world of interpretation and analyzation. Understanding this has given me the chance to see literature through several "lenses": even ones I disagree with. This has sharpened and bettered my experience of reading immensely.

2 & 3. Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings
These two are essential and intertwined. I first read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" when I was very young-- I can't even remember how young. All I know is that this book sparked both my love of reading and of fantasy literature, something which survives even today (albeit in MUCH more discerning form). The Narnia books remain ones I would take with me on a desert island and have read countless times, and C. S. Lewis remains my favorite author. The Lord of the Rings gave me a glimpse of what adult fantasy fare could be like, and allowed me to further refine my taste for fantasy after gorging on more dime-store-quality offerings than I care to remember.
(side note): The LOTR movies were superb in virtually every way. I highly recommend that everyone see them, and try to watch them for more than just thrilling entertainment (although they are that). The Narnia movies I am less thrilled with, but still recommend as high-quality entertaining treats. If only they weren't done by Walden/Disney...

1. Pride and Prejudice
This has to be #1, simply because it is the most enjoyable and most developmentally crucial book I have ever read. Jane Austen is a close second to C. S. Lewis in my author list. The sharp, witty dialogue, the subtle comedy of manners, the English pastoral landscape, the refined and not-so-refined characters, and the unforgettable leads are all excellent reasons to regard this book so highly. Beyond that, ever since I first read it (freshman year of college), this book has brought to full flowering bloom a rabid and all-consuming passion for anything English. I am an unrepentant Anglophile, and this book is to blame.
(side note): If you don't own the A & E film version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, go out to your nearest Best Buy and get it. Now. The recent (2005) adaptation with Kiera Knightly was also very good, but not quite as delicious. The former has amusing detours, slow-simmering romance, and comical performances. The latter is quicker, sharper, and more intense-- which is great, but less in keeping with the tone of the book.

Well, that's this week's Thoughful Thursday. I hope you've enjoyed it, and sorry about the length!


Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

My mom says she'll never furget the day fur many reasons -

Thanks fur the update on the Four Paws issue -

I khan't read books that big - the lakhk of the thumb thingie makes it hard to hold 'em!


Rachel said...

It's really funny you did this - my husband and I got into a discussion about my five favorite books the other day and I told him I simply couldn't narrow it down to five, as I have read hundreds of books in my life. He said he didn't believe that I had read "hundreds" of books (WTF - BA in English???? What do you think I've been doing for the past 4 years??) - anyways, so yesterday I started an excel spreadsheet of all the books I've read and am already over 100.
Incidentally, I really like your cross commentary on the movie versions of these books - I think it's really important to point out those differences, since a lot of people seem to think that if they've seen the movie it's the equivalent of having read the book and it just ISN'T! Especially with the tone issue you pointed out with the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice.
Great post!

Nevis said...

I know, I had a SUPER hard time narrowing it down to just five books and I really had to like...control my urge to put fancy books down to make myself seem smarter! (*laugh*) I mean, Jurassic Park really did change the way I thought about books and popular fiction. I know what the book is, but it was very important to me, you know? *laugh*

A couple of books that ALMOST made the list for me were "The Wall" by Sarte, "Lord Foul's Bane" by Donaldson, "A Wrinkle in Time" by L'Engle, the plays of "Aristophanes" and "Harry Potter" by Rowling.

Lex said...

We got the moo cow costume from petsmart! :)
They have a few different ones but since Gus is a HUGE grass eater.. lol

I love the A&E versions of everything Jane Austen.. I think they did a few more then Pride and Predjudice. I haven't had the chance to read the books but I plan too.
I just finishes reading the Life of Pi and i have to highly recommend it. It was an incredible book.
And I just read Wuthering Heights too.. I am not sure about this one yet.. :p

Angus Mhor said...

Angus' Mom here: I'm a confirmed Anglophile, too. Have you seen the latest BBC treatment of S&S? It's rather good, I think. And it's true..reading the book INCREASES enjoyment of the movie..if it's a good one..but it's also interesting to see someone else's interpretation of events, themes, etc.

Aniemother said...

Well done, Puddelgum, I think it was great to let your dad post this!