Friday, November 2, 2012


Don’t you just hate it when people ask you to pick your favorite thing-that-you-love-so much? It’s like when you were a little kid and some annoying middle-aged person would ask you who do you love more, your mom or your dad. Well wasn’t that like the big middle finger of existential dilemmas pointed at you, was it? And just when you thought you cleverly fixed it by saying “I love them both the same,” the bastards go about changing the rules! Oh, I can’t love them both the same? Well I’ll have a suitable answer for you after I learn how babies are made, just you wait!
Anyway, as you might have guessed from the title, this is about books. Not my favorite books, just books in general, because when asked the dreaded question, I just put in the fanciest title I can think of to impress people. Like my Dad, what’s your favorite band? Queen. What’s your favorite movie? Citizen Kane. What’s your favorite cartoon? Tom&Jerry. What’s your favorite comic book character? Rahan. Ok since the blond pre-historic Tarzan is not exactly The Dark Kinght, I guess you can have this one BUT back to the problem at hand. I’ve always loved fairy tales, and after the fateful “Red Riding Hood” event I thought I could never look at an edition of Immortal Tales ever again, but the truth is, after I’ve gone through the whole you-murdered-my-childhood drama, knowing the history and the full symbolic scope of them made me appreciate them even more. Bonus points for murder, rape, cannibalism and matricide - I mean Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and all the rest.
For a lover of the fantastic the shift to the science-fiction and fantasy genera was natural, and you can’t talk about that without the maker and shaker of the space-time continuum, Dune. Yeah, remember that one? Those two books in which everyone talks in inner monologues and that needlessly became more than I’d care to count? And I don’t care, Dune had already started circling the drain by the time Children of Dune came out.
I’m still reading The Lord of the Rings. I’ve gone as far as the first part of The Hobbit and I’ll probably finish the whole thing by the time the reboot hits theaters. I have no idea why it’s such a slow read. And you know what else was a slow read? The Name of the Rose. I’ve gone as far as page 6, and that was 8 years ago. Some might blame the stuffy writing style but I’ve not only read Cormac McCarthy, I actually like Cormac McCarthy and The Road, which is downright biblical in its writing style is one of my favorite books ever! I’m sorry, random literary critic, but Umberto Eco is NOT Agatha Christie.
There was a phase in my life when I only read classics. And believe me, they make an impact, especially when you read close to 1500 pages worth of them in less than three days. Yeah, these classics usually came with a deadline. It almost made me hate the entirety of Romanian literature and that’s something for someone who memorized a three-page poem just by reading the hell out of it. Yes, it’s Miorita. It was only after I finished high school that I started to really appreciate them for what they were, pieces of literary genius and not just exam subjects. I’m still amazed how our internationally revered education system can drag your love of writing and your creativity behind a wooden shed and beat it to death with a shovel. I only got it back when I did my diploma paper and realized that instead of slaving deep in the night and reading hundreds of books you can just make shit up and since  it’s literary shit no one can tell you you’re wrong.
But let’s be philosophical for a moment, and ask ourselves what is the purpose of books in general. Some people - I’m not pointing any fingers her but they generally have long beards and wear long black robes say that they are nothing but lies. Evil lies, too. I mean there was this whole mob protesting that Harry Potter promoted witchcraft and Satanism to kids (Satanism is not devil-worship, for God’s sake do your research!) but hey, if I’ve learned anything from the Politics Channel, it’s that people liked being lied to. We like to believe that somebody will just wave a magic wand and fix the economy. Maybe when our latest relationship crashed and burned we’d like to believe that love is forever and that there is a happily-ever-after. Or maybe you’re an asshole and you like to read about people’s lives being shittier than yours.
Because you see, as lately people keep pestering me with inspirational quotes (attached to pictures of overly-photoshopped women), I realized that I don’t have a favorite quote, I have a favorite made-up term. No, notwarp speed, but close enough – it’s reality dampeners. In the Discworld novel Small Gods, Terry Pratchett deems it people’s ability to not be awed by all the amazing things around us, like the sun rising, flowers blooming, etc. But I like to think of them as the ability to not be horrified by all the horrible things going around us. There are people dying of hunger in the 21st century. Just think about it for a second. Think of the enormity of it.
If we are to get political about it, you can find the funny version in the aforementioned Discworld novels. I’d like to live on a flat world sitting on the backs of for giant elephants sitting on the back of a giant turtle flying through space. I’d like to live in Ankh-Morpork where you pay thieves not to rob you and you can walk on water (but that’s because the only thing that qualifies the Ankh as a river is the fact that it moves slightly faster than the land around it.) I’d like to see a battle bread museum. Eat some cabbage sausages in Sto Lat, see the feminist Cinderella of Genua, have a staring contest with the sacred (or just certifiable) cats in Djelibeybi, maybe rob a temple in Klatch and have some of Nanny Ogg’s famous mostly-apple-brandy in Bad Ass. I’d even like to see one of the daily schisms of the Omnian Church and ride a kangaroo on the Last Continent. Theoretically you could ride a ‘roo in Australia too, but my mom won’t let me go there so I guess it’s Discworld or bust.