Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paying To Forget

When I was in my twenties I actually researched having a hypnotherapist put me under so that I would forget "Star Wars". My plan? To be able to go back to the theater to re-experience the film anew. The hypnotherapist merely shook his head and suggested I get a life.

However, the last post about The Great Gatsby has made me think about that idea again; looking at certain experiences, re-examining them removed by time and space. Oh, I could never do that with "Star Wars". I've seen it too many times and could probably write the script shot for shot. Still, there are books and films which I might have missed, or may have seen only once or twice in that time, which deserve revisiting.

Here are my top five revisits, in no special order. I promise to take this trip in the next few months and report back, whether it proves to be a disappointment or otherwise.

1) The Doc Savage series. Maybe not the whole series, but gimme a few. This is pulp in its purest form. Doc Savage and his band of adventurers fighting foreign saboteurs and other threats to democracy and apple pie.
2) Dracula. The actual novel that it seems so many people know about and never read; and along that vein (forgive a pun) perhaps Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Frankenstein. These are the titles I read as a kid, back in the time of covered wagons we didn't have horror in young adult literature, no Goosebumps, Harry Potter, or Stein.
3) Crime and Punishment. The Brothers Karamazov. The Idiot. You know, in early college I read through these texts and because I was young and stupid, probably missed the beauty and complexity of the writing that made these novels great.
4) Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Now, I never actually read this book, but because everyone around me in the seventies did, I always felt a little left out. So, yeah, this is on the list.
5) The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. It's been a long long time. And while I'm at it, maybe a few of the Heinlein novels. You know, maybe a journey to the golden and silver ages of science fiction.

We'll see. What about you? Time is the best hypnotherapist; it robs us of so much. Are you going back to re-experience anything? Or are you strictly future bound?


Donnetta Lee said...

Numbers 2 and 5 are right up my alley. Asimov is "the man" in my eyes! I have loved him forever. Enjoy your journey. I'll keep checking for your report.

spyscribbler said...

Totally. I've been obsessed with the old classics this year. I don't know why. I've really only been in the mood for Jane Eyre, Dickens, and Irving. That's it. I just can't find much else that excites me at the moment.

(And I don't think they are any better than what is being written today. It's just a mood, I guess.)

Charles Gramlich said...

I wish I could experience the Doc Savage series as a young reader. By the time I found them I was in my 20s and I just didn't find them that good.

Lisa said...

Books I'd like to read for the first time again would include Sophie's Choice, A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, Johnny Got His Gun, A Fine and Private Place, Sometimes a Great Notion and Death be Not Proud. I remember reading most of those books in junior high or high school and they felt really powerful at the time. There's a lot of music I'd give anything to hear for the first time again too...

Zoe Winters said...

A few books that always make my revisit list:

"A Hunger like No Other" by Kresley Cole. (One of the hottest paranormal romances I've ever read, and I identify very much with the main character.)

Story of O. by: Pauline Reage. A classic.

"Topping from Below" by Laura Reese. A very well-crafted book that always makes me think.

"Nice" by: Jen Sacks. Funny and I relate to it. (Basic premise is...chick hates to break up with guys because she doesn't want to hurt their feelings, so she kills them instead. This is obviously a satirical romance...she ends up with a hit man in the book... but, it reflects how a lot of women feel about dumping guys. A lot of us will wait until the relationship gets to the "I hate you, look at me again and I'll kill you slowly" stage before breaking it off...when we really wanted to do it sooner, but couldn't bring ourselves to hurt the guy.)

DesLily said...

I recently read Bram Stoker's Dracula.. and although the writing was excellent and I loved the way it was told in the form of letters and journals.. I was shocked to find myself bored reading it!! I never expected to be bored!... maybe I am too old and have seen "the movie version" too many times!??

Stewart Sternberg said...

Asimov was an astonishing science fiction writer. I worry often that science fiction as a genre is losing steam, sinking into militaristic literature, and losing the sense of wonder that characterized it during most of the last half of last century.

Spy, I really believe that when we reapproach the classics as adults or later in life, there is something more to be gleaned. Strong, or powerful writing is multifaceted, it has layers that speaks to different readers at different times.

Charles, therein is the rub. A book experienced as a young reader is sometimes nothing more than fluff that a young reader would love but that a more mature and experienced reader would frown at. I am concerned that in re-reading Doc, that I will discover that one cannot go home again.

lisa...a fine and private place is a book I recommend to people over and over again. I used to read it once a year during my thirties, and I seem to have left off reading it. I must return to Beagle's masterful classic. I hope they never try and turn that into a film.

zoe, I remember reading The Story of O. My brother had a copy and I was a teenager at the time. I loved it, although I didn't understand what the author was truly writing about. I have to confess to being struck by the eroticism of power exchange.

deslily , I'm going to reread Drac this fall.

Vwriter said...

I'm trying to keep most of my reading time available for reading stuff that you and Chuck write, Stewart. That doesn't leave a lot of free time.

SQT said...

I'd like to re-read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I haven't read them in years, but loved them. Oh and Poe-- any Poe.

Zoe Winters said...

Hey, Stewart. I think some people get very hung up on Story of O as a metaphor. Which is fine, it is, BUT it also REALLY is about a sexual power exchange. Some people get uncomfortable by that, and because it's "literary" and not just "cheap porn" they feel like they can't just "dismiss it" so they have to say: "Oh, it's just a metaphor, it's not REALLY about sexual submission." Um yeah, it kinda

But I'm not saying you were saying it wasn't. Just what you said struck me and made me think of that.

Story of O pissed me off the first 3 times I read it. Finally on the fourth read through it didn't. But what pissed me off was that Rene told her he loved her, but still treated her in the way that he did. (For some reason even in a fictional context I could not deal with his words vs. his actions. Though I thought she belonged with Stephen anyway, so yeah.) I should read it again and see how I feel about it the 5th read through lol.

It's one of those books that every single time I read it I have some new insight about it. I have the sequel but haven't read it yet because I'm told it isn't nearly as good and I'm afraid it will wreck the original for me somehow.

Stewart Sternberg said...

First, to Vwriter, why do you keep taunting Chuck and I in cyberspace in ways you know will bring you immense pain in real life?

To zoe, I agree that people try and turn it into a metaphor because doing so makes it more comfortable for them. On the other hand, it also shows that the book has layers that many critics have refused to acknowledge.

Also, I think erotic literature is a dangerous thing if only because most people consider their sexuality to be a private experience. A book on the matter, especially one that presents a different take on the experience, tends to be threatening to folk. If it's a titillating and exploitive affair, people can handle such text, in my opinion. If it taps into intimacy and tries to deal with honest feelings, it forces people to look more honestly.

Virginia Lady said...

I'd have to say I need to actually read many of the classics for the first time. Unfortunately, I had an English teacher in 9th grade that made it so I didn't have to read any of the classics and since i didn't want to at the time, I didn't. I read sci-fi, fantasy, romance, anything but classics.

I've already started on Dracula and have a whole assortment of others to conquer as well. It's funny how you can miss some of the best novels out there if you don't make the time for them.

R2K said...

Foundation is great. I assume you have read The Prime Directive? I really like that one. Why didnt they ever make it into a film?

Stewart Sternberg said...

Virginia Lady, do you plan out what you are going to read well in advance? I tend to do that. I actually have a shelf set aside for books that I'm planning on reading next.

r2k, I am believe there are currently plans, and maybe the project is in pre-production, to turn the Foundation series into a television mini-series. We'll see. Any attempt to make a beloved set of books like this into some sort of event is going to raise eyebrows from hardcore fans. However, I also believe there are so many younger people out there who have never really been exposed to Asimov that it might be a wonderful way to expose them to this great author.

R.J. Keller said...

I have tried to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence more times than I can count. I never make it more than a third of the way through. Maybe someday I'll conquer it.

Virginia Lady said...

Yeah, I do plan out my reading as well. I have separate stacks for classics and for the new books. I switch between them, but I'm always finding something else to add to the piles. I don't think I'll ever actually finish one.

Zoe Winters said...

That's a good point, Stewart, and might explain why "Story of O" was received in the way that it was. Cheap porn, no matter what it entails almost always is "okay" in some sense because it's divorced from emotion. Combine a "perversion" with genuine emotion and people freak out.

This happened with the movie "Secretary" as well. Some people simply could NOT deal with that movie and were pissed off that an aberrant and unhealthy relationship was foisted on the public as an okay alternative lifestyle.

The fact that they didn't understand it, didn't exactly make it suddenly not exist. Nor did it mean the movie didn't connect with people who saw it as emotionally genuine.

While I agree with you that sex is a private affair, it makes it even harder to understand why some people feel absolutely compelled to tell others what the "correct" way to run their personal intimate relationships is. If it's personal, it's not really their business.

Aimless Writer said...

I slept through Star Wars and the Star Trek movies. After a while my BF stopped inviting me to go with him. Go figure.
Now I have the urge to find one of the old classics and curl up on the porch swing.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I just resurrected a Heinlein. It was wholly satisfying.

Vwriter said...

Hey, Stewart. My brother used to have the complete "Doc Savage" series. I'll tag him to see if he still does. He is an artist, and he told me that the covers were marvelously well drawn for the editions he collected.

Sidney said...

You know I've never read Foundation. That's another one I need to get around to.

Loved Doc Savage and went through a re-visit of it a few years back. It may be time again.

Christina said...

I could be wrong, but from what I noticed, even people not vastly into sci-fi have found Star Wars a classic. I remember the first time I watched it. I was fairly young, and it didn't make much sense, but I remember it just the same.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Rick, I would love to read them, but I wouldn't want to take your brothers' collection. I will probably end up downloading a few ebooks and reading them during the summer.

Sidney, you have confirmed my desire to read them again. Thanks.

Christina, it's a classic because Lucas in a moment of genius followed the mythic archetype and produced a deliberate epic. Everything after? Not so much.

Aimless? Wake up.

L.A....resurrected, eh?

Barbara Martin said...

I started out reading Asimov and Heinlein, and now I read more fantasy than science fiction. Although, now that you mention the old classics, perhaps it is time to return to what interested me in the first place: to see if it still holds that charm.

x_X_xThe Black Rabbitx_X_x said...

I think that there is something in all of us that we want to relive. For me, it is my first trip to Cedar Point with my friend Jake; The rides, the bad food, the being so scared you nearly piss yourself again and again.

Plus... I could see someone who is ya know, nine billion feet tall (well... almost 7 foot 4 now) get on the rides by squishing himself and contorting into the seats (sadly, no Top Thrill Dragster though - he doesn't fit in the least).

I dunno... I guess we never get to go back... But we can live for the moment now.