Sunday, July 10, 2005

How Ideas Die

A few years back, I was in the laundry room of my apartemnt building and cleaning out a lint trap. The lint had three sedimentary layers, each with a totally different lint palette, so obivously hadn't beeen cleaned out in a while. This wasn't uncommon. Neither were broken dryers.

It occurred to me that a dryer repairman, should there be any such specialty, would likely know of this weakness in communal clothes washers, and have been, in his/her career, on so many repair calls obviously caused by the inability of people to clean lint traps with any kind of reliability that it had become habit to clean any lint trap encountered, whether the machine he/she had been called on or not, just to save him/herself, and all others of his/her ilk, some tiny bit of that monotony.

And I imagined lots of jobs might encourag this type of thing. And I always thought that was kind of interesting, and that I might use it some day.


A new toilet was being installed in the house I rent. My landlord, a Seattle actress with capital S and A, sat within three feet of the plumber throughout the process, watching and occasionally attempting to sound interesting or interested.

"So, tell me, what is the one thing people do that you wish they didn't, or the one thing they don't that you wish they did?"

It sounded like she had read it from a card in the "Connect With People and Get More Out of Life" boardgame. Golly, aren't I well-rounded because I care about how a plumber thinks, and maybe I can even use any insight I get out of this to better myself.

And, fuck me if it didn't sound a little familiar.

The plumber answered, after a long pause, with a "Huh?" that made me love him, just a little.

I have abandoned the lint trap idea.

Call me crazy...

...but we live in a very exciting time for textual studies.

OK, call me boring instead if you must, but I believe this is true.

We are at a moment when perhaps the greatest (and surely the best-selling) series ever written forr young readers is in progress, when a grand shared narrative has yet to conclude. It has angered Evangelicals while fueling the Apologeticists, has been spurned by public schools and embraced by universities, and likely has nearly as many adult readers as youth.

Yes, Harry Pottter.

Just think about it. Most series that are or will be canonized reached the height of their popularity after the storyline was completed, when we already knew what happened. Never before has the author of a fantasy series had such open access to the critics' and fans' speculations while in the process of finishing the series (and there is evidence that some of her response to critics has made its way into at least one novel). And, this is just the trappings, the context of the reading of the novels. They are fulll of allusion, classic imagery, mythology, issues of race and power and politics.

What a great fucking thing to be able to read and write about.

It will be different for my daughter. She is two, and the series will be long over when she has a chance to start reading it. It will be different for academics, too, that tackle the work after it is over.

It is like we have all agreed to stop reading a great novel at page 150 and talk about it, and know that the author is sitting in and editing pages 151 and on as we speak.

Lumos 2006, here I come.

Monday, July 04, 2005

This is how it starts... I imagine the vast majority of blogs, journals and diaries start, with the self-referential. Here I am writing in my blog/journal/diary. I never thought I would, but I promise to be really really good about it. This time.

Wonder what else I'll talk about.