Thursday, October 22, 2009

"On the Marionette Theatre" by Henrich von Kleist

I ran across this essay because, apparently, it was a major inspiration for Philip Pullman in writing the His Dark Materials trilogy. I've never read the third book of the trilogy, but I was actually far more impressed by the essay than by the first two books! To be fair, my understanding is that the third book adds a lot of thematic material that corresponds to some of what makes the essay so interesting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Age and Identity

I often wonder about the way that some of my favorite themes and topics in fiction seem diametrically opposed to my actual experience of real life. Like, I experience time in a very linear sense - but I love narratives that tell stories out of order and sometimes even enjoy reading books out of order in order to manufacture such a chronology for myself! One of my favorite themes ever in fiction is identity - I have always loved stories about characters who aren't what they seem to be, have trouble understanding who they are, or even have several different identities. But I've always struggled with my confusion about this being a theme I preferred - I think I'm actually more straightforward than most people in my self-presentation, and I certainly have an extremely strong inner narrative of myself as a coherent personality, fiction though that may be.

Some of the stories I really like about identity have to do with age - I often enjoy stories about characters who aren't really the age they seem to be (although I feel obliged to mention in passing my utter, enduring hatred for the damn Child-Goddess Aphrael in those David Eddings books). This predilection of mine is particularly pronounced in the case of my fondness for Rin in Please Save My Earth - it's particularly good in PSME because Rin sort of is a seven-year-old kid, he's just also sort of not - and it also probably explains some of my fondness for Kira in Angel Sanctuary, since, even if he doesn't look like a child, he's still much, much older than he looks. And then there's creepy fanfic about when he was a child. It might also be one of the reasons why I'm so perverse in thinking of Thessaly as my favorite character in The Sandman.

So, over the past few months, I've quite frequently had people assume that I'm younger than I am - a college student, even a high school student. This is fairly typical, but it's getting more interesting the older I get. It's true that I didn't graduate from college that long ago, and that I haven't really had many of the typical life experiences that one normally thinks of as distinguishing a college student from an adult. Nonetheless, college is a decent number of years back for me now, and I definitely think my mindset has changed (and, yes, matured) quite a bit in those years.

I still have a very strong sense of myself as a coherent personality, and thinking about how other people mistake me for a younger person doesn't really change that, but perhaps I do actually have some connection to these identity issues now. If I wanted to, I could really be the creepy, preternaturally mature high school student that I love to read about. I am, in that way, misinterpreted by others in the same way that so many characters that I love are. I don't really have any desire to mislead people in real life, but it still seems to put me more in connection with this favored theme of mine to think that I could, if I wanted to!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meta-Random Thought

Why is it that, when I have a random thought, it so often tends to be about Jesus?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should Jenna Happen to Read This, it Doesn't Have to be a Rhetorical Question!

It is a testament to the match between Jenna Moran's talents and my own taste that I am quite enjoying Wisher, Theurgist, Fatalist despite my profound inexperience with formal RPGs with rules (LARPs without rules, OTOH. . .). The digression that begins at the end of page 67 is a thing of sheer beauty. It is not new Hitherby, of course, but then, what is?