Lessons From…Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird On the Internet (Almost)

So, if you are reading this, there is 99.99% chance you know who Felicia Day is. If not, here. Now that that is taken care of, I recently finished her stellar book You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). There isn’t any specific section that can be removed and examined more closely since it is all necessary to understanding the narrative and intended message of the text.

Accordingly, I will recommend that you read the entire book and gleam what you can and must. I will however leave this small excerpt in hopes of enticing you further:

feliciadaybookexcerpt

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

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Lessons From…Paper Towns

I have just finished another John Green novel last week. Specifically, I read Paper Towns which I loved and highly recommend. Yeah, I read Young Adult fiction. Wanna make something out of it? Anyhow, while I was reading this book two things in particular stuck out to me, and, obviously, I felt the need, or urge if you will, to analyze them more in depth. Thus another post. As always SPOILERS ahead.

There will come a day when I do not use this picture as a spoilers warning; today is not that day.

There will come a day when I do not use this picture as a spoilers warning; today is not that day.

The narrative of Paper Towns revolves around the mystery of Margo Roth Spiegelman’s disappearance and the clues she has seemingly left behind for Quentin Jacobsen, a sort of childhood friend, concerning her sudden absence. The story then progresses through various adventures and inclusion of several characters, friends, and future potential allies in solving the great mystery of what happened to the elusive Margo Roth Spiegelman. It really is a great story that delves into some of the “big” questions of life and humanity through the lens of high school seniors and their particular world views. Usually that last bit is what alienates several potential readers away from the Young Adult genre, but in my opinion I honestly believe this exploration of life through the emotional uncertainty that traditionally accompanies teenage life actually makes for more interesting discussions and examinations. There is something pure in the naivety of teenagers that lacks the protective nature of ego adults have.

Moving on, the core of the mystery and narrative of the book concerns the way people view each other and, in many ways, themselves. I wish I could figure out a way to say it better, but the author does an impeccable job himself.

This is Lesson 1.

This is Lesson 1.

Every character in the novel has two selves, or two personas; one is the way they are seen and the other is how they see themselves. Neither version is completely accurate, but both personas influence each other and the actual person they are supposed to exemplify. For example, in the book Margo is seen as a fully different person by almost everyone she knows. To her parents, she is an irresponsible teenager whose actions are an affront to the family and their image. To her friends, and most other students, she is the popular, cool girl who rules the school. To Quentin, she is the perfect girl next door who is the love of his life. As the story progresses, all these images and versions fall apart and something remains from the rubble and ash. Now, these remains are not necessarily the ‘real’ Margo, but it is the closest anyone will see of what the ‘real’ Margo as it is a persona she chose outside the expectations and complications of others eyes and ideas and concerns.

It might seem a bit selfish for someone to just leave without warning or concern for others, but so what if it is? In her case, Margo does it under the best conditions. She is not married. She doesn’t have any kids. She doesn’t really have any responsibilities. To her friends, it seems like one of the worst betrayals she could have committed, but to her it was the only method of finally being her. After all, her friends were not losing Margo, but were losing their image of Margo which was more informed by them than by Margo. Sometimes the only way to really be who you are and meant to be is to simply leave and figure out who that really is.

This is not to say that the adventure Quentin and his friends went on didn’t matter or came to nothing which brings us to the next core principle found in the book. Again the author does a much better job than I.

This is Lesson 2.

This is Lesson 2.

The idea of paper towns in the book is from an old cartographer trick. Basically, map makers would make up cities and landmarks in their maps, so that if they found them in other maps, they would know that someone had stolen their work. Essentially, the paper towns were fake, imaginary things in the mind of the individuals who made them. The primary characters, particularly Margo, in the novel are paper towns themselves. They are amalgamations and creations of the people they interact with. Ultimately, as Quentin discovers, these versions of people we create are found to be fake and wanting and not at all the real person underneath. However, this is not the true importance of those relationships and encounters. The idea of the person might be ‘paper’ but the experiences and memories and moments we had with these individuals will far surpass the person and be far more influential in our development and lives than the people themselves.

After all, our memories are how we filter and learn from the experiences of life. If those memories are slightly different from reality, does it really matter since we still have those images of it in our heads? Thus Green’s words ring true that the memories remain and are what was important.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

Sharing Books

Last month, I decided to really participate in All Hallow’s Read by offering books to followers who commented on a post. Now, I do not have a large following by any means; even if you combined all my followers from all platforms, the number would not be that significant. I am no Eliza Doolittle by any means. (Watch Selfie!)

Am I using the example above as pretense to post a picture of Karen Gillan? Probably, but does it matter.

Am I using the example above as pretense to post a picture of Karen Gillan? Probably, but does it matter.

So, I shot for gifting eight books to people, and I managed half that goal. Considering this is the first time I ever attempted anything like this, I am going to count it as a win. Honestly, it was kind of fun to ship random people books based solely on the premise of what I thought a stranger might enjoy reading. Hopefully, they like the books I sent and if not, at the very least find some pleasure in the surprise and exchange. Probably will try this again next year, or maybe even sooner. Christmas is just around the corner.

Oh, also I was gifted a book and will begin reading it soon. Thanks CrazyinParis. The Other Boleyn Girl feels like a good read.

All Hallow’s Read

In case the odd profile picture was not enough of a giveaway, I am trying to promote All Hallow’s Read. What is it? Well, I’ll let this explain it http://www.allhallowsread.com/. Pretty cool, right?

Anyhow, I really want to participate this year, so this is what I am going to do: the first 4 people to respond to this post with a comment will get a book. I’ll try to give you one that you will actually enjoy based on a mixture of my knowledge of you, your comment/hints, profile. and pure dumb luck and guesses.

I only request that you actually read the book, take a picture to ensure the book arrived, and tell me how good or bad my selection was. Also, if you want to give someone else a book this month, or any time, that would be cool too.

As well, if you are a total stranger…I’ll figure something out to ensure you get a book. Of course, this could all be for naught and no one will respond to this, but the worst that can happen is I get to gift a couple of books to people. If you do happen to be an utter stranger (preferably not a bot), maybe leave a hint of interests or hobbies in your comment. (Not a book title).
Happy Halloween and an All Hallow’s Read. Read more books!

A Time Before…

There was a time before the words

Took up house inside of me

Before when food and drink

Satisfied my hunger and thirst

 

Ever since the words crept in

Only more and more words

Can quench my desire

 

I devour entire worlds

Through the black blood

Of their gods and creators

 

Each one gives something,

Enlightens my mind,

Strengthens my spirit

 

Makes me better

 

I will never claim them all

 

At best I can make my own tome

And hope that some soul

Will drink and eat of it

Lessons From…Alys

I know, I am writing a “Lessons” post about a book again after I swore to try to focus on other media. In my defense, it’s a pretty good book and has such an obvious nugget worthy of note and discussion that I just couldn’t help myself. Moving on, today’s lesson comes from Alys by Kiri Callaghan. The book is a retelling/re-imagining of the classic Lewis Carroll story, Alice in Wonderland. Everything from this point on could be considered a spoiler, so you know warnings and such.

alys

The entire book could provide various lessons on life like the effects of a suicide on those left behind, the importance of memory, dealing with turmoil and loss, among many others. Did I forget to mention Alys might be considered a darker version of the Carroll story? However, I am more interested in two particular passages from the book.

First, from Chapter 9 “Lost in Thought” on page 107:

“Alys pointed to some of the rotting volumes. “What are those?”

“Oh. Sad, isn’t it?” The bookworm tsked and shook her head. “Those are the lost causes; tales that will never be finished, continuously overworked until they rot and are useless to everyone–even the author.”

“Does it happen a lot?”

“Only when vanity, pride, or obsession overpower the wit of being written.”

“So…?”

“Constantly.”

Now, this section is explicitly discussing literature, but is easily applicable to just about any avenue of life. How many hobbies and interests have fallen by the wayside simply because you were not as good as you think you should be or what others might think about you? How many times has something or someone you loved turned to scorn or dismissed because of your constant vigil over it? It is difficult, but if we want to create something, whatever that may be, we need to find a way to overcome our pride, vanity, and obsession. One way is to actually put your work out into the world and put your pride and vanity on the line. No better way to lose those two than to subject yourself to the criticism of the Internet.

terra mirum

As well, from Chapter 9 “Lost in Thought” page 108:

“Every book ever written and a few that never will be,” the bookworm answered with a smile. “Some are only thoughts or concepts. Some are epic tales, others just short stories. All vastly valuable.”

The questionable legitimacy of an author stating the importance of stories is not lost on me. Still does not make it any less valid. Stories matter, even the bad ones. Obviously, science and math should be pursued and will help answer some of the greatest mysteries of the universe, but the human skill and desire to create should not be a casualty of the push for scientific discovery.

The standard argument for the arts is that science and math allow us to live and thrive while the arts gives us a reason to live. Frankly, this statement has always annoyed me and seemed a bit pedantic. The truth is that stories do more than just entertain; they educate and inspire. When speaking to the next generation of space explorers, we do not tell them about the math of the physics involved in take off or the engineering in the ships and systems. We tell them about the majesty of the stars and of the lives of great explorers that came before them without fear of the unknown and uncertain.

Stories matter because it is stories and words that have moved men and women to great and terrible things. Even those who have wielded the knowledge and power of science have been inspired by the tales and words of others. I am not saying one field or pursuit is better than the other, but instead that they are both necessary parts in the future endeavors of humanity’s path.

So to recap,  in order to create, you must overcome the defeating triumvirate of pride, vanity, and obsession, and all stories, even the bad ones, have a purpose and matter. Thus endeth today’s lesson.

One final note. I highly recommend Alys. It is well worth the investment of time and money, plus you support a promising independent author. You should also check out Kiri Callghan’s other works, like her YouTube channel and Wit&Whimsy Tumblr, if you’re interested in various creative things or just curious in general. Seriously, both entertaining and educational at the same time every once in awhile. Here’s a slight preview of her skills:

Thus ends post blog post random recommendation.

Lessons From… A Book

So, I know that technically I said I was going to write posts concerning lessons from media, but I never said that those lessons or examples wouldn’t be derived from books as well. As well, sometimes events transpire to lead you to a decision and you should listen which is partially what this post is about.

I have a personal birthday tradition. Every year I go to a bookstore for my birthday and spend several hours reading, drinking a cup of coffee, and eventually leave with a small stack of new reading selections to tide me over for awhile. This year was no different with the slight exception that I was joined by some family.

Per my usual routine, I purchased my hot drink and immediately found a book to immerse myself in. After I finished it, I went on search of the next tome that would tickle my fancy. I wandered around a bit without really finding anything that caught my attention until I found a particular book.

Image

The title is a bit fuzzy, but it is called I Wrote This For You. I won’t spoil the book for you mainly because I can’t. It isn’t a standard narrative driven book nor is it a collection of poems or stories in the traditional sense. This book is a unique experience. It is constructed in such a manner that it will have different meanings/significance to different people at different times. Were I to read this book again today; my interaction with it would be distinctly different than the one I had last Saturday.

However, this is the intent of the book, It is not trying to tell a good story; instead, it is trying to bring something out of its reader. In my case, it worked extremely well and I found myself perplexed, comforted, and wanting all at once through its mixture of poetry and imagery. It is an experience I would recommend attempting if you have the option.

So what lesson did this book give me?

A piece of media sometimes comes at just the right moment. It could be a song that comes on when you’re having a bad day. A favorite movie when you need a good laugh. Or even finding the right book when you didn’t even know you were looking for it. Still the book said it best:

Image

Also, I swear next week’s post will be back to discussing non-book media, probably.