it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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i'm broken like a record

I just collected about a dozen unripe windfall pears, victims of the thunderstorm two nights ago. I quartered them--they were like little rocks--seeded them and removed any buggy bits, and combined them with water, cloves, palm sugar, and nutmeg to make a pint and a half of pear butter. The water bath is coming up to temperature so that I can process the jars, and then they'll go in the basement with the others.

We had a jar of the first batch of pickles at the party yesterday, and they were good. A little high on the vinegar-to-water ratio, and they needed a bit more sugar, but good. I'll probably be putting up a few more quarts of pickles tomorrow, as I expect the farm share will have a hell of a lot of summer squash in it. Maybe I'll even try pressure canning some, although summer squash pickles are really good. Also, I want to sweet-pickle some pearl onions. Maybe I'll throw a hot pepper in that jar, too.

And this is one of the things I love about life: that I can take something that would just be thrown on the compost heap and make food out of it,

This reminds me, obliquely, of how Rick Springfield saved my life.

I know I've talked about it before, but the great thing about "Jessie's Girl" is that it is a fabulous example of an unreliable narrator who doesn't know he's unreliable. Like David Bowie's narrator in "Cracked Actor," this guy is a real piece of work, and totally unaware that the reason behind all his problems is, well, him.

When I was younger, I didn't get that there was such a thing as an unreliable narrator, or that one of the great techniques of art is to put the reader in the head of somebody with whom he (and the author!)fundamentally disagrees, and that this can evoke a far, far more nuanced response than merely presenting a didactic argument against something.

Any teacher knows that students learn and think best when allowed to draw their own conclusions.

Interestingly, the last time I brought this up, one commenter (I don't remember who)mentioned per feelings that Rick Springfield should have made "Jessie's Girl" didactic--that is, impossible to misinterpret.

I have been thinking about that, and think that's wrong.

Didactic literature has its place, certainly--there is room in the world for Black Beauty and Little Brother--but I can't help but think that the flash of insight--the epiphany--that I got when I figured out how the narrative in "Jessie's Girl" worked was more than worth the distaste I felt for the song prior to getting a clue. Because it taught me tings--things about interacting with the world, things about how people I disagreed with might see themselves and me--that I wouldn't have figured out from just being told, "Hey, guys who act like this are schmucks."

I think I like Zelazny the better for having made me like Corwin before I figured out that Corwin was a lying liar who lies, and also kind of an asshole. I love Steve Brust's Agyar precisely because you can't trust the narrator. And I love "Jessie's Girl."

Because that's art that reflects a verity--people do not see themselves truly, and nor do we see anyone else as they are, but through a lens of projection. Are some people going to get confused by this? Well, yes.

But in this, as in everything in art, it is not actually our job to aim for the lowest common denominator. Nor (as greygirlbeast said at ReaderCon in different terms) is it our job to make readers cozy and comfortable no matter what. First of all, we can't--it is physically impossible to write something everyone will find comfortable. Second, it's our job to tell the truth, as much of it as we can compass, and the truth is often pretty hard to hear.

And after all, I tell lies to strangers for money.

Oh, porphyrin and mrissa -- here are those two Bowie videos I was trying to find for you and failing. (NB: the second song may be kind of triggery for some, as it's narrated from the point of view of an adult survivor of child sexual abuse in intense emotional turmoil, and it doesn't pull any punches.)

Tags: bork! bork! bork!, dance like a spaz, suburban peasantry, writing craft wank
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