I Like Description

In the English language there is one very specific word that says exactly what you mean.

The question is whether you know it.

-Maxim of Wyatt Fairlead

 

I am the sort of person who has a very active imagination.  Not in the sense that many use the term, where you think up strange things, or you start to imagine that you are seeing things that you aren’t or whatever; but in the sense that when I hear a description or I am reading about a particular scene in a book, my mind automatically pictures the events unfolding.  (Very similar to what it is like when you are remembering specific scenes from a movie, only my mind is creating it.)  I don’t think that is a particularly unusual thing to have happen to people; it is just particularly vivid in my mind.  That being the case, I always enjoy well done description in books.  Description that is well done makes it easy for you to see what the author wants you to see but leaves a little “wiggle room”, so to speak, for your imagination as well.

Perhaps another reason why I like description so much is that it allows the author to create an object, person, or environment with out the actual struggle of doing it.  That sounds somewhat nonsensical at first, but allow me to explain.  For the vast majority of my life I have been trying and failing to create the exact representation of what I am picturing in my head.  My imagination would come up with intricate medieval weapons, or monstrous citadels.  Probably the most common was an 18th century frigate under full sail crashing through the top of a wave with sea spray creating rainbows in the sunset sky.  (Believe me; that one never came close to happening.)  The problem is, I can’t do it.  I don’t have the skill to create in the physical world what is in my head, be it in drawing, building, or any other medium I try.  What description allows me and anyone else to do is create exactly what is in the imagination in someone else’s head.  Description isn’t the same as the physical reality, but it is the next best thing, and it enables us to create something that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.  There is something about good description that sparks the imagination and I love it when that happens.

Wyatt Fairlead

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I Splurged

So I went to the Green Valley Book Fair on Saturday.  We usually only go once a year, but this year we are going to have the opportunity to go twice in a relatively short period of time.  (Which was great for my strategic buying.)  I had decided ahead of time that I was going to buy some books that I wouldn’t ordinarily get, because I might not necessarily read them, but I wanted them because they are just good books to have.  At any rate, I had a great time, and for any of you out there that are into good deals, I will make you jealous. The Green Valley Book Fair buys books in bulk from overstocked publishers and stores that go out of business etc.  All the books are new, and they range over every subject you could possibly think of.  You never know what is going to be there because the books that they get entirely depend on the suppliers, but you are always sure to find something interesting.  I bought twenty-eight books on his trip.  Yes I splurged, but for fun I did a price check of all the books that I bought at the book fair on Amazon.  Here are the figures that I came up with.  I spent $112.60 on all my books.  If I were to buy the exact same books on Amazon, excluding one that I couldn’t find, (the selected works of Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats) it would have cost me exactly $314.37.  I am happy, and looking into building myself a wrap around bookshelf in my room as my upright bookshelf is past full.

Wyatt Fairlead

 

 

I Give Up

Maybe no one is like me.  It is entirely possible, but I think it is probable that I am not the only one who has ever felt guilty about buying books for their library.  For quite some time I would always feel bad about buying books.  Not because I thought that they were a waste, but because I thought that I would never actually read them.  There was a time when my logic ran like this.  “A book is made for reading, I have more things made for reading than I can handle at the moment, and therefore, another book is more than I can handle at the moment.”  Of course if you had asked me I would not have phrased it exactly like that, but that is the boiled down, bare bones train of thought.

During a certain period in my life, I bought very few books.  In reality, it had more to do with a few years obsession with Lego’s (which are horribly taxing on a young person’s finances) than a loss of interest in reading.  During that period, I actually got close to reading everything in my personal library.  Then I started going with my family and a friend once a year to the Green Valley Book Fair.  I have since given up any hope of reading all the books in my library.  I have made a fundamental change in my library philosophy.  It is now more like this.  “A book is made for reading.  I believe that everyone should have available to them things for reading, therefore, a book is something that I believe everyone should have available to them.”

Taking each book individually is what is important.  I am not saying that everything ever written is worth reading.  Quite the contrary.  As a matter of fact, my new philosophy is a good guide, in my opinion, to what books are worth reading.  That is because I can take a book and ask, “Do I think that this book should be available, within age appropriate limits of course, to anyone interested?”  If the answer is no, then that book is not worth having in my library.

To date my personal library consists of 192 books.  (I define this, as books designed to be read all the way through, i.e. dictionaries don’t count.  I also exclude any duplicates, of which I have several.)  I have only read 112 all the way through, making only 58% completed, which is a statistic that is increasingly shrinking. While I wish that I could read them all, I have resigned myself to the fact that it isn’t going to happen.  Books are worth having even if you will never read them personally, because you never know when you may run into the desire to look something up, or someone else expresses an interest in one of your books that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. Good books are something that should be available to those who want them.  That is what I believe and is how I justify myself whenever I pay hard earned capital for another potential dust collector.  I have officially raised my white flag of surrender.

Wyatt Fairlead

Favorite Authors

 

“Your favorite author does not necessarily have to have written your favorite work.”

Maxim of Wyatt Fairlead

            Not to long ago, my mom and I finished listening to the 800 Leagues on the Amazon, by Jules Verne.  When we finished it, I started to remember all the other books of his I have either read or listened to and began to realize that compared to other authors, he has a large chunk of my readership.  Granted I have read or listened to a relatively large number of books and I have read only seven books by him (give or take one that I might be forgetting); but I thought about it for a while and discovered that seven is a lot of books for only one author.  I can count the number of authors of whose works I have read that many on one hand.  The conclusion I came to is that, while I may not list any of his books in my top five favorite works, He would be in my top five favorite authors.  I have greatly enjoyed all the books by him that I have read and am always optimistic when starting one of his novels.  I suppose I have just been thinking since then about my favorite authors and what it is I like about them.  I can tend to get into ruts where I only read one genre, or only read from a certain author and it is always nice when I catch myself falling into one of these grooves to be able to go to one of my old trusty storytellers and say, “Pull me out!”

 

It is always neat to here what other people like as it can, and often does, broaden your horizons.  (And mine need broadening on a regular basis.) So, if you don’t mind me asking, who are some of your favorite authors and what is it you like about them?

Wyatt Fairlead

Fahrenheit 451

In memory of Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012

It is interesting to read old books that are about what the future will be like.  There are several examples of these books and Fahrenheit 451 falls right into that category.  It always amazes me how close we are to some of the things portrayed in these old time once “science fiction” novels.  An example of this would be television screens that made up the entire surface of the wall, being written in the 1950’s.  But the power of books like these doesn’t lie in the predictions that we have already achieved, but more in what we have not yet done and where they predict we are heading.

Fahrenheit 451 is based on the premise that books are illegal; there is only one view on any given subject (if there is any view at all), and therefore no controversy and because of this, “happiness”.  This viewpoint is probably best summed up by the fire chief.  He is the man responsible for the crew of firemen who respond to alerts.  Not alerts of fires, but alerts of where fires need to be started, namely where books have been discovered.  Here is his explanation.

            Beatty peered at the smoke pattern he had put out on the air.  “Picture it.  Nineteenth century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion.  Then in the twentieth century, speed up your camera.  Books cut shorter.  Condensations.  Digests.  Tabloids.  Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending.”

“Classics cut to fifteen minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two minute book column, winding up at last as a ten or twelve line dictionary resume.  I exaggerate of course the dictionaries were used for reference.  But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet…was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors.  Do you see?  Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the last five centuries or more.”

“…  School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored.  Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work.  Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”

“…Now lets take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more the minorities.  Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants…[the list continues].  The people in this book, this play, this T.V. serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere.  The bigger your market, Montag [the main character], the less you handle controversy, remember that!  All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean.  Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.  Magazines become a nice blend of vanilla tapioca.  Books, so snobbish critics said, were dishwater.  No wonder books stopped selling, critics said.  But the public, knowing what they wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive.”

“… There you have it Montag.  It didn’t come from the government down.  There was no dictum no declaration, no censorship to start with, no!  Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.  Today thanks to them you can stay happy all the time.  You can read your comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals.”

“Yes, but what about the Firemen, then?” asked Montag.

“Ah,” Beatty leaned forward in the faint mist of smoke from his pipe.  “What more easily explained and natural?  With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers, instead if critics, knowers and imaginative creators, the word, ‘Intellectual’, of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.  You always dread the unfamiliar.  Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright’, did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him.  And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours?  Of course it was.  We must all be alike.  Not everyone born free and equal, like the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.  Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.  So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door? Burn it.  Take the shot from the weapon.  Breach man’s mind.  Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?  Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute.  And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely all over the world, (you were correct in your assumption the other night) there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes.  They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the understandable and rightful dread of our being inferior: official sensors, judges, and executors.  That’s you, Montag, and that’s me.”

“… Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo.  Burn it.  White People don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Burn it.  Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs?  The cigarette people are in tears? Burn the book.  Serenity Montag.  Peace Montag.  Take your fight outside, or better yet to the incinerator.  Funerals are unhappy and pagan?  Eliminate them, too.  Five minutes after a person is dead he is on the way to the Big Flue, the Incinerators serviced by helicopters all over the country.  Ten minutes after death a man’s a speck of black dust.  Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriums.  Forget them.  Burn all, burn everything.  Fire is bright and fire is clean.”

            You get the idea.  I was struck with these passages.  I leave it to you to decide if we are heading the same direction as this describes, (It is society that I am referring to.)  But, these are not new arguments.  These are the same sort of arguments that have been handed out by rulers and movements as a way to control society for centuries.  With the advent of the Internet, it is much more difficult to censor what is actually accessible to the public, (even though someone can without difficulty spy on what you look at.)  But never in history have people been so open to manipulation (through media of all kinds) as we are today.

All that having been said, it was interesting to read this book, and it gives me the excuse to spend more money on these wonderful works of combustible material than I already do.  There is nothing like a good old hardback.  🙂

Wyatt Fairlead

Books Are Catechisms

Novels are like catechisms with flesh on.

-Nate Wilson

I have been thinking about this more recently as my family and I are reading through Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  I’ll talk about it at some point when we are done, but a thought has kind of been in the back of my head for a while, and then I noticed this quote in my quote collection.  I think that it is very true.

First of all, I guess catechism should be defined, as it is rather an old-fashioned term.  A catechism is simply a series of questions and answers compiled for teaching school children the main ideas of a subject.  The most famous catechisms teach the main tenants of Christianity, but by definition a catechism is simply a collection of ideas; in essence, a summary of a worldview.

That being the case, it is very simple to see how a novel, or I would argue books in general, would be, “catechisms with flesh on.”  Every person sees the world through certain lenses.  It is impossible not to. They are basic assumptions that we could not operate without.  Now, when an authors writes, they write based on their understanding of the world and how it functions.  Therefore, what they write, by necessity, must have those ideas imbedded in it.  For example, I am writing this post on the underlying assumption that people do in fact, have a worldview.  This is not a very hard assumption to substantiate, but it is, nevertheless, an underlying assumption.  If you disagree with this assumption than my whole post would be meaningless to you.  It is these underlying assumptions that contribute to making books dangerous.  (But worthwhile.)

Although, I believe books to be worthwhile, it is also worth considering what those underlying assumptions that you are reading, are. When I read a book, I don’t assume that the author was necessarily trying to make a point by what they wrote, even though they quite often are, but I try to keep my eyes open for little ideas that will inevitably slip in.  Often I have read along, and picked up those little ideas unconsciously, not even noticing that they were there only to be questioned about them later and realize what happened.  I find this exercise to be interesting and in fact, it sometimes increase my ability to understand the book.  It is much easier to understand what is going on when you have a general knowledge of the ideas from which actions are being developed.

I understand that these are just my thoughts on the subject and would be very interested to hear what others have to say. (Both in agreement and opposition.)  So I will stop typing and perhaps go and read some “fleshy” catechism that I have been working on recently.  (After dinner.)  🙂

Wyatt Fairlead

The Versatile Blogger Award

Well I must say that I am surprised and somewhat confounded that I would get a notification on my blog this morning to the affect of being nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award.  Upon further investigation, I realized that it was not in fact an official award of any kind, but a simple tribute from one blogger to another informing them that they appreciate what is being said.  In this particular instance, Lea At Sea telling me among several other more worthy bloggers that she appreciated our endeavors.  Therefore, with out further adieu, I say thank you to Lea At Sea and wish to inform her that I value simple appreciation from people such as she more than any award in the traditional sense of the word. (Certificates, ribbons, etc.)  While I have not and, I pray, never will blog out of hope for praise and admiration of others, it is always encouraging to find that someone beside yourself finds your interests, thoughts, and mumblings to be worthwhile.

 

Now on to the business end of this nomination.  The rules of The Versatile Blogger Award are as follows.

If you have been nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award.

 

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. (If you want to.  Added by me.)
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 bloggers that you have recently discovered or follow regularly.

Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

 

This is where I run into difficulties.  First of all, I don’t follow 15 blogs and I don’t feel exactly right about recommending blogs I have never read before today.  Call it what you will, I like to be somewhat careful what I put my stamp of approval on.  That being said, I will now nominate several of the blogs I do follow and would recommend.

 

The Heffington Post: A blog devoted to pointing out peculiarities, foibles, problems, and Humorous qualities of our culture today.

 

A Simple Glimpse of the Whole Picture: A photography blog of a good friend of mine, who also has a website. A simple Glimpse Photography

 

Thoughts From the Corner: Various and sundry musings of another good friend.

 

Of Strength, Love, and Silver Linings: Another blog devoted to the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

 

The Inkpen Authoress: A fun blog that is built around literary works and pursuits.

 

And now for the time of introspection.  Here are seven random things about Wyatt Fairlead.

 

1: I love old things.  Antique furniture, old books, Victorian era houses, and most other old fashioned things get me excited.

2: I love the outdoors.  There are few things better in my mind than taking a walk through a hard wood forest on a crisp fall morning.

3: No one in my family was born in the same state and I have lived in three states and moved six times in my seventeen years of existence.

4: I am a shy person around people I don’t know, but would rather stand out in a crowd than blend in and do something I feel uncomfortable doing.

5: I have an interest in woodworking and doing things with my hands.

6: I also have an interest in learning how to do 3D animation.  (Inexplicably) 🙂

7: Spiders give me the creeps, but I have yet to find anything else that bothers me like that.

Wyatt Fairlead