Monday, November 26, 2007
Upfront apologies and then a lot of talking
Alright, I apologize in advance if this blog comes off as over the top deep or perhaps pretentious in its origins.* At least I recognize my annoying habits.
Yes, I am reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and it is quite good. I just came off reading two other Eastern European writers' books (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn and The Castle by Franz Kafka) which I didn't really enjoy so I was pleased to find I wasn't totally put off by books from that geographic region.
One of the things I most enjoy about the book (as I think should happen with most novels) is the relatability (I've got one of those red lines under that last word but I swear it's a word and dictionary.com is on my side). No, unfortunately I have never fallen into a scandalous affair with a beautiful Russian princess** but there are minute human emotions or experiences that after reading a particular paragraph/chapter/etc, I immediately referred to my own life and felt a kinship to the particular character. Anyhow, way to go Leo! You've impressed me.
Now on to my original thought.*** This one isn't so much relatable**** as it simply just instigated a thought process for me. Levin is one of the main characters of the book. Maybe my favorite character. He doesn't conform very well to the Aristocratic Russian society of which he is a part which is part of the reason, I believe, that he runs a farm. Now don't get me wrong, he's still Aristocracy and the fact that he has hundreds of servants doing the manual labor partly proves this. Near the beginning of the book, he proposes to a girl named Kitty and is rejected due to Kitty being confused with another possible suitor even though she really loves Levin. Regardless, the next x hundred number of pages is a lot to do with Levin trying to distract himself or get over this girl when everyone knows he'll never really get over her. So yes, this is a refined chic flick ... in book form.
Gosh, I'm not even to my thought. OK. Levin's half-brother (who's from the city) comes to visit Levin in the country and they go hunting. The half-brother (I forget his name) has all these refined ideas from a lot of talking with other people just like him***** and Levin doesn't necessarily agree with all that the half-brother spews.
Now we've arrived: as they walk into the country they come across a stream (or some other scenic part) and the half-brother says something about the beauty of nature. Levin's mental response is what I love. Leo lets us into Levin's thought process. Levin loves nature and all things associated with it. He finds that words only soil the perfected nature of ... nature.
And this is what got me thinking.
I have found a lot of enjoyment/pleasure in well written books. So instead of turning on and denying my respect of words, I think the opposite has happened. The importance of words is only magnified. When something incredible is experienced, this only calls for a description (and use of words) that is equally incredible. Surely there is a use of words that can accurately describe and equal in beauty whatever is being described.
Yes, I partly agree with my boy Levin when I say that I don't like it when beautiful things are tainted by words but I think the reason I would say that is because these beautiful things are often given a mediocre description in which little mental effort is put into. Instead of abandoning the effort to try to put life experiences into words, I would strive to improve my skill of describing to match that of what I have felt or thought.
And how do I do that? Reading others' well written material (i.e. Anna Karenina, anything by Elie Wiesel, etc.) and putting forth the effort in speech or writing. I encourage you to do the same.
I'm also fairly sure Leo Tolstoy would agree. I don't think he would be writing books if he thought words ruined the feeling of human emotions.
(Oh, and I realize I talk/write a lot of crap ... I'm working on it ... which I think we're all doing.)
*Classic Russian literature.
**One day maybe.
***I like that I have 3 introductory paragraphs for 1 thought.
**** Ditto on my last discourse on "relatable" (and its various forms) being real words.
*****Pretty much like most discussions at Taylor.