Saturday, August 26, 2006

Off my head or out of my head? Is it me?

I've become a DorothyLer...avid, fanatical readers, librarians, pharmacists who read, a number of authors, and a lively group and it is refreshing to find a chat group that, for the most part, has a sense of huor and an open mind. Google it, try it out at www.DorothyL.com Nice bunch of folks, really. I may not be long for the list as I tend to get a bit passionate and long-winded when I see such as and I quote: "It's definitely easier to love animals than people. People can't help butdisappoint you since they are driven (like we all our) to look after their own needs over those of someone else, even a loved one."

This reverberated in my head like Grandma Soprano and I quote her here: "People will let you down...and I'm not naming any names, but you die in your own arms." This to her 12 year old grandson who just stares at her. By the way, she makes an attempt on her son, Tony's life. ' Soap'-ranos is like I Claudius brought up to date.

Hey folks, no one is denying it is easy to have a 'full blown relationship' with a dog or cat, or even a stuffed animal as many of our kids do...we humans are suckers for furry and fluffy...even a 'tribble'...but it's always going to be you doing all the work. See Calvin and Hobbs. A bit one-sided, especially those long conversations, and when's the last time you cooked a dinner and lit candles for a cat or a canine? It is more difficult and complex dealing with a lover or a wife or a daughter or a son. Love takes nourishing, far more so than filling a bowl with Kibbles. With pardons to Ol' Yeller, which will rip your heart out, or the Yearling for that matter, we humans ascribe a 'full-blown relationship' to a creature who would let you down if someone else chose to feed him or her. I know you don't want to hear this, but human relations require care and caring going two ways, such things as trust (which animals learn as in learn to trust your scent and that you will be home by 5) but I am referring to the multi-layered nuances of human trust. Hawthorn's best ever story bar none, Young Goodman Brown is about the loss of trust...suspicion and the consequences are as horrible as Elvis's song by the title Suspicon. I have a book on my shelf entitled Your Brain - A User's Manual. Humans have a range of emotions that have created whole cultures, cities, the 8 Wonders of the World, and the array of negative emotions as well. When Atticus Finch kills that mad dog in TKaM he does so because the animal is dangerous to his children. Atticus is so cool...if all people lived their lives as Atticus did his, we'd have a wonderful world. Even though his wife is not even in the novel, we feel the work he put into his relationship with her (still puts his arm around where she once sat on the porch swing), and we see throughout the story how hard he works to have a relationship with Scout and Jem. Love among people, that is work...hey, Love is Murder (www.loveismurder.net), I always say. The hardest work most of us do in life, harder by far than trying to keep a plant alive is the relationship. Harder to write a novel or sail a boat is keeping a relationship alive, especially one in which the other party has a complex brain, has a point of view, has emotions of a complex nature and are not going to give you 'unconditional' love for a pat on the head or a bowl of Whiskers or Friskies. I have a cat and a dog but God help me when I come to the conclusion I'd rather work at my relationship with Ben and Pebbles than my relationship with my wife or kids. Shhhhsssss..... this so reminds me of the Cabbage Patch dolls and how ga-ga people became over those items that required care, had birth certificates, could be sent to hospital (I'd suggested cemeteies for the hopeless C-Patch cases, but it didn't take)...and pet rocks, the baby alligator days of the 50s, goldfish, and such. Is it me or is it the rest of the world? People will let you down, but is that any reason to give up on 'em and like exchange 'em for animals? Once had a girlfriend who kept a spider monkey...our relationship suffered greatly as she routinely, routinely put Oscar's needs ahead of mine. Hey...a guy's a guy.

But folks...hey, we are the readers among our species; we're the ones holding up the standard of knowledge, wisdom, intellect, and literature is about life, death, and choices, and like Hamlet's reaction to murder and incest, and such fascinating obsessive characters as Ahab (and the Whale) throughout literature driven by vengeance, ulterior motive, greed, jealousy (Iago from Shakespeare), anger, fire, conflict. Good books have at their core how we humans live our lives. I'm sorry but Dolphins and Whales do not come near the complexity of the human mind and language; do you really think the White Whale was seeking out Ahab for a last shot at him? Watch a child learn language and just soak it up. As for doggie heroes, children's lit is filled with animals representing human characterisitcs and trust me The Grinch Stole Christimas is a rip off of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Folks...hear me....Even White Fang is about the foibles of the human characters (condition) as 'seen' from the oft abused dog's POV. Who's life is more important in fiction, the hero or his dog? When the kid who loves and cares for the dog goes through the ice, who'd you rather see DIE? The heroine or her Cockatoo (how do you spell Cockatoo -- I know I'm going to hear about the misspell). In a horror novel with a monster reeking havoc, even in Bram Stoker's Dracula, would you prefer that little Timmy become the first victim or his dog Dashell?

Hope this stirs some hairs on the back of your neck as I am want to do in my novels....a good novel in my estimation teaches us some things in the bargain, and whoever laid down the law that a book is purely for entertainment and meant to please the sensibilities rather than shock them into 'understanding' the complex nature of relationships and the human condition? Without such risks as George Clooney took with his film on Edward R. Muro, we're doomed to see the next witch hunt (perhaps already upon us?) and to not recognize it for what it is. We all know one thing, when a cop kicks a dog even if to save the integrity of the crime scene, he's labeled for life, and even in Beuwulf or Sir Garwain and the Green Knight what a character says and does equals who he is. In the case of the crime scene investigator who's upset with the dog, the integrity and chain of evidence is his 'obsession' or her 'passion' and is more important than the dog's feelings, or the feelings of those in the crowd who report the animal abuse to headquarters, thus putting our forensic guru 'on notice'.

In truth...in all my books...even when dealing with the vilest of the vile, I work hard to make you feel it, but I also work hard to not glorify violence for violence sake either toward animal or man. It gets graphic because you hear it, smell it, taste, touch, and see it. Because you have five senses, all of which any knowledgeable author is going to play on, you might FEEL for the victim. When a spear-chucker, baggage carrier, or red-shirted security guard in Star Trek is killed, we feel nothing as we have invested nothing in said character as he might as well be made of cardboard, but when you are made to feel and believe said character is real...the victim's death in fiction can be disturbing and powerful. Once again, if in a Koontz novel you have been asked to invest your emotions in his canine character, then you have a totally terrrific reason to care more about the dog's death than the kid's death or the mom's death, and so on. King, Koontz, myself included, we don't put the meat and potatoes of the crime on a covered tray or in another room. When I do an autopsy in a book, you will know it is an autopsy whether of a crocodile or a person.

By the way am contemplating two works of fiction simply from titles I have bouncing about in my head for some reason and conducting informal survey. Would you read this book? ....a werewolf tale in Louisiana aaah and New Orleans entitled Bayou Wolf
and a kid's book - maybe a pop-up as I like to scare kids too, and they like it...entitled The DaVinci Toad....kinda on the order of the Geico gekko but with plumed hat and a Merlin like wisdom able to solve kid mysteries. Whataya think? Bestseller within reach at last?

Rob the Rant King ps. see literacy links below (literacy war is on)

America's Literacy Directory A service of the National Institute for Literacy and Partners AmeriCorps*VISTA Programs ProLiteracy / Literacy Volunteers of America / Laubach Literacy National Jewish Coalition for Literacy United Way of America United Way of Canada BookPALS: Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools

11 Comments:

Blogger Ron Estrada said...

I like the Davinchi Toad. Bayou Wolf? Not so sure.

Let's see, I think you've summed up, in one blog, every reason we can produce 200,000 new titles a year and still find something to write about. As long as there are people, with all their idiosyncracies (is there a spell chekc on this thing?) and faults, there will always be stories. We love the heroes because we want to be them and we can't help but love the villains because we are ever so much already like them.

When Jesus told us to love one another, I wonder if His heart sank, because He knew that a simple command like that would be the most difficult for us to follow. It's so hard to love the unloveable, because we are the unloveable.

Besides, there's only so many dog stories you can write. Face it, Buck was Jack London in a dog suit.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Robert W. Walker said...

Ron -- I thought Sea Wolf by Jack London was an amazing tale. Great story. Love Jack London and Steinbeck...real storytellers those two.

Rob

3:56 PM  
Blogger Robert W. Walker said...

Ron -- I thought Sea Wolf by Jack London was an amazing tale. Great story. Love Jack London and Steinbeck...real storytellers those two.

Rob

3:56 PM  
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