Friday, June 22, 2007

Tell Me A Bedtime Story

Being sick has its occasional, if accidental, upsides. One of which is a redefinition of time, involuntary though not entirely unwelcome. I’ve found myself to be a rather habitual person these days, despite (or perhaps because of) a murky greyness as to exactly where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing in a year, or two. And I think on some level some sort of standardization of time – even if it’s the kind of schedule organization that sees one in bed constantly when the sun begins to get out of bed – gives a certain kind of comfort in consistency to those who have a subconscious need of it.

My current problem of course happened because the sun didn't come out but it should have, and I was out when I shouldn't have been, meaning in this case being caught in the rain and landing up in bed over the past week in a manner that, whatever else, was fairly consistently... horizontal. But I always feel there’s stuff to be done when one is left little else to do, and taking away practice and online library work, and the appropriate amount of dawdling attached, has really made me realize the amount of time there is to work with. I’ve finally gotten back to reading, first into one of the old Calvin and Hobbes collections, then a reread of the 6th Harry Potter book (which should fit in nicely between the upcoming 5th movie and 7th book), and now, A Prison Diary by the then-incarcerated Jeffrey Archer. That’s in chronological order, of course, and probably in order of so-called respectable reading by most, but I really don’t see why. They’re all enjoyable, and in more than one way (for example, say, vocabulary) Bill Watterson is more than on par, though I have enjoyed J.K.’s use of words like “treacle”, “travesty” and “tea-cosy” and, in a somewhat scarily educational way, Archer’s new-found jail-house literary expansion.

A couple of months ago an editor prevented a rather testy argument from getting – shall we venture then, for want of a more accurate word, bitchier – by saying that further discussion should be made in person instead of online because, “as we all know, there’s no way to judge tone in email.” Wise words, which I fully agreed with then, in that context. But I’ve been thinking – doesn't the same principle seem to operate in books, which, as far as intelligent conversation and, dare I say, proud personal prejudice go, still far outweigh the movies in depth and staying impact?

So my conjecture is thus: that either authors (and their editors) are particularly skilled at ensuring that tone is clear… or the fact that tone isn’t clear is somehow alluring to the reader. The latter would say, give the reader a reasonably greater amount of control over the crafting of imagination and thus his or her ability to seriously suspend disbelief, contrasted to say, the control in suspending the disbelief that he or she paid an overreasonable amount to watch a seriously stupidly crafted movie. OK, read that again, yes it was an overrun sentence but heck, it was worth it.

I do admit that the one area where the cinema has the upper hand is the CGI graphics, which is why I’m looking forward to The Order of the Phoenix movie – that I suspect, beyond technical skill, in this one arena, you’ve got a bunch of people with seriously superior imaginations, experience, and skill... when it comes to things going kaboom.

But it is somewhat disappointing that the essense that makes the rare movie into a film – heck, that have always made films anything, really: the acting. The lasting upper hand is not the bigger and badder fireworks, but the real ability to speak without words, in a way that only inked words could do otherwise.

Of course, the truly attentive at this may point at whether that original proud personal prejudice was one of pride in getting back to reading – or the fact that you can’t trod off to the cinema with cooties when you’re sick and stuck in bed.

I get a feeling that which way it is up to the reader. I, for one, ain’t telling.


Jkn said...

You said 'aint' :p

(Today's word verification is: UCUXSL)

Amanda said...

Interesting what you say about tone in writing. It takes a lot of work to make tone clear; especially on e-mails, msn, etc. yet people get to know others via writting just like a reader gets to know the characters in a book...even in music we dont necessarily have to hear the music to understand it. Sometimes there is greater understanding when one is only reading actually.

youve given me much to ponder about my dear...that or im becoming a bit daft after so much Haydn sonata analysis and fuge writing =op

Hope you feeling better!