Posted by: fullandbye | April 20, 2005

the passing of time

It is interesting reading texts again and reflecting on the changes in perception since the last time you read them.

A mark of age for me has been my recurring forays into Bill Watterson’s gift to the world. Calvin and Hobbes have become richer and more layered as I reread them. I have probably read the entire collection more than ten times now, and each time I can reflect on what my thoughts were when I first ventured into that magical world at the age of six or seven. I appreciate the sentimentality and fundamental optimism of the comic, but my ability to distinguish between genuine hopefulness and nostalgic sentimentality is indicative of just how cynical I have become. I miss my innocence. But I am glad that I have these books to return to, and to remind me of my own change in consciousness. Memory of textual encounter is a really powerful sort of time-capsule. Although the contents buried within can be a little depressing.

They can also be a little embarassing. Rereading a book right now that was really transformative at the beginning of my college career, I have come to realize a shocking truth: This book is actually pretty bad.

I suppose that my change in view is indicative of the university’s ultimate success in teaching me to be a decent amateur literary critic and cultural theorist. But damn, what the fuck was I thinking when I first lauded this text as an inspired work of pure genius?! While this book is useful to be sure, I am more than a little embarassed by my former zeal for this mediocre piece of cultural theory.

College has either turned me into a more aware and critical cultural participant, or it has turned me into a snobby, cynical asshole.

The third (and favorite) option is that the previous dichotomy is false and I am partially enlightened, and partially just a dick.

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Responses

  1. yoi
    Nick, in his genius once told me:
    make sure to evaluate, but don’t be judgemental.
    He was speaking of people (he was talking to me afterall),
    but I think it serves here too. Being all post modern, its useful to keep one’s bias close at hand, but if I were coding you, (like I did for my psych thesis, were I had the emotion wheel, and judged what people were feeling), I would have had to go bonkers on your review,
    Just looking at p4, we have “damn, fuck, inspired”. Especially with the “embarassed and zeal.” I would just say you’ve heavily taken your emotions into consideration when making decisions about things. Now and then. College has probably made you more thinking more complicated but as for dickish, I doubt it.

  2. Re: yoi
    E,
    You know how excited I get over text that I find appealing. This particular book used to be gold standard for me. Becoming more critical is a double-edged sword: I am more evaluative. But higher standards mean that a lot of formerly magical books are now pretty run of the mill.
    Becoming blase and realizing how banal your former favorites really are is a little depressing no? We all need heroes from time to time.


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