I’ve been going back and forth between two equally cheesy Doogie Howser opening lines for today’s post. One reads like this: “Giving something up is difficult, especially if it is something that you have come to rely on. But as time passes, the benefits of giving up such dependencies compound at a fairly rapid rate.” Can’t you just picture the Doog typing something like that? The second went thus, “Sometimes when you have been waiting for something for a long time it only makes that thing better when it arrives. Sometimes, though, waiting so long for something brings expectations that can’t possibly be met.”
I’m sorry that my writing style has somehow boiled down to something so bland. But I do think I will go ahead and finish those two thoughts because, in spite of their initial presentation, I think they are some blog-worthy ideas. So here, just imagine me sitting at a circa-1990 IBM, wearing that white medical coat and maybe a fluffy blond crew cut and maybe somehow that will make this more easily digestible:
Giving something up is difficult, especially if it is something that you have come to rely on. But as time passes, the benefits of giving up such dependencies compound at a fairly rapid rate. (Haha, okay.) For Lent I gave up drinking soda and listening to music, at least in environments that I had control of (my car, my home, my computer). At first my body screamed for caffein and sugar, and my ears felt neglected as morning passed with alternating silence and the crackling murmur of talk radio. I have only been “fasting” in these respects for 13 days now, but I have already lost my appetite for soda and find myself relishing my self-imposed silence. I don’t say this to boast, because surely it is an act of grace that I can leave these idols (perhaps temporarily) behind me, and surely, as my parenthetical hinted at, I risk returning to them with equal or increased devotion after the fast has ended. But maybe I won’t, because I feel healthier, in small ways. When I stop drinking soda I drink more water and milk and juice and tea. These things are good for my body, or at least they are better for it than Cherry Coke. When I stop listening to music I spend more time thinking, which I admit can be an idol in itself and can be just as inward and unproductive as habitual consumption of prerecorded sounds and images. But thinking, for me, is one step closer to prayer, which is the ultimate goal. That is to say, not all thoughts are prayers, but by allowing myself to be incessantly distracted I run the risk that few thoughts turn into prayers. I realize I am sounding very self-righteous by typing these things, but be assured I am referring always back to my own practices and my own habits, not anyone else’s who may be perfectly healthy and productive in the way that they consume.
Next thought, and slightly more concrete: Sometimes when you have been waiting for something for a long time it only makes that thing better when it arrives. Sometimes, though, waiting so long for something brings expectations that can’t possibly be met. Such was the case with my recent viewing of Persepolis, which, while fantastic, wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for. Visually it exceeded my most demanding expectations, and if only for the animation you (anyone who has ever loved a line or the way it moved) need to see this film. I guess that leaves the story, then, as the element which disappointed me, and I’m afraid it’s probably as simple as the Harry Potter fansters who object to every detail that was left out for sake of the flow and duration of the movie. And certainly there was much less omitted from the Persepolis canon than the Harry Potter canon, so probably it’s just that some of my favorite parts were gone, or else a scene was there in picture but Satrapi’s narration was not. For example, the scene where Marjane first leaves Iran and her parents are seeing her off at the airport: Marjane writes, “I couldn’t just go. I turned around to see them one last time.” We are then hit with an image of her mother who has fainted and lies limp in her father’s arms, and Marjane is looking on this horror-stricken and she writes, “It would have been better to just go.” The scene’s equivalent in the movie was gripping, but without that line it lost some of its impact, it lost that fist in the gut crumpling effect. I want to see the film again and force myself to view it separately from the books, because I know it was beautiful (everyone is saying that it is a beautiful film) but I couldn’t quite get past the marks I felt it was missing.
I always get nervous when I play the critic here, especially when I am criticizing someone I admire, and try not to do too much of it (although I think I mentioned earlier how completely disappointed I was with Satrapi’s “Embroideries“). After all, you never know who might read, and what if I’ve just destroyed my chances at being Marjane Satrapi’s best friend? But more than that I think about my own creative pursuits and how quickly I can be cut down to size and left with spirits trampled. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Maybe that’s presumptuous on my part, to think I even have the power to. But words are strong, man! I guess you have to give up your right to the kid-gloves when you step into the public light. I’ll continue to enjoy my gentler, more private world as an amateur. Still, I’m sorry if you’re famous and you have, for some reason, read something here that hurt your feelings.
And finally, since today is Superficial Monday I will say something about the appearance of this blog, which you may have noticed has changed a few times in the past couple weeks. I am trying to settle on something that works both structurally and aesthetically, and haven’t found it yet. I appreciate the individual feedback you have given me, to those who have given me individual feedback, and hopefully it won’t be long before Easel Ain’t Easy is looking pretty and also functional. Thank you for reading this long-winded and rather disjointed post.