Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I finished Pullman's The Amber Spyglass the other night; it was good, but not as good as the first one.

[I'm a lit person. I don't give spoiler warnings because being a lit person is all about talking about books and stuff.]

However, I have to say, the harrowing hell bit was amusing in all sorts of echoing other lit ways. And I liked that the "authority" faded away, killed accidentally rather than purposefully, and already pretty much totally out of things. I'm not quite sure what the "big temptation" was; anyone want to clue me in? (Was it for Lyra to choose to stay with Will rather than to separate into their own worlds? Or to leave a hole open?)

I'm semi-unsatisfied with the supposed atheism. How atheist is it if you feel the need to kill whatever diety you're supposed to worship? I mean, if you're really an atheist, there's no authority. And, of course, in our world, it's not like there's some magical power that's going to smack me down for saying there's no magical power. But in most fantasy series, there's a magical power that has real effect in the world, and so can't just be left aside while you go on to other things. And so in Pullman, there are all sorts of magical goodies, and they get fetishized and it becomes important to get them, sort of like some relic that actually has power or something.

There's a level that's satisfying about magical stuff in books, of course. But there's also a point where it doesn't work for me. I suppose that's why I don't read as much fantasy as a lot of people do.

I'm now reading Kyoko Mori's Polite Lies, and it's fascinating. Mori grew up in Japan, but moved to the US (midwest) as a young adult. In Polite Lies, she talks about similarities between Japan and the US midwest, and the ways both cultures use politeness, and how offputting she finds that in both cultures. And she talks about visiting Japan as an adult, visiting family, and dealing with family relationships. I'm really enjoying it.

Sometimes, midwestern politeness drives me nuts. I get impatient if someone asks me multiple times if I want X. It feels manipulative to me, or maybe as if the person asking isn't listening when I say "no, thanks." It's probably going to be easier when I'm away if only because I won't understand much.

I went to see Charlie Wilson's War this afternoon with a friend, after going to another's New Year's party, which was pretty fun. It was a good movie in that way that a good movie makes you think about how complex things are. Laws of unintended consequences and all that.

So much for my New Year's Day. I also dug out my deck a bit (worried about snow weight) and learned a bit more about using my camera (seriously scary!).

1 comment:

  1. I also recently (in the past couple weeks) finished reading the same book.

    I thought the "big temptation" was sex, in a very original-sin-repeating-itself kind of way. Only this time around it's experience, and not innocence, that's valued.

    The death of a senile Authority thing didn't do much for me. Seemed too fleeting.

    The going to hell and back part cracked me up. One can't be a hero unless one makes that roundtrip. I kept asking myself, "What next--are they going to die on a hill?"