Saturday, August 27, 2016

From me to you and back again -8-

-This is where I talk about something. Something that comes to mind and sticks there and I want to describe so that it sticks in other peoples minds and makes them think, because that is what this is about. I want to be thinking. I want to be lit up and even alight. And I want you to leave this post with the memory of the thoughts it made you have-


When you love something (but also don't): and what happens when others feel differently.


I identify with Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time). I first met her in the graphic novel version of that book and the sense of recognition I got was practically instantaneous, overwhelming, and simultaneously one of the most magical things I had ever felt. She is insecure and fiercely protective of those she loves, but... it was more than that. It was her inner thoughts, the way she regarded herself and valued her actions, and how all of it was described, that made my mind yell that is me.
Meg is different every time I meet her, and when I read the novel and the sequel it was a different experience again, and while I was disappointed that I didn't see myself in her as vividly as I had in the graphic novel, it was okay. Because she was still there.

A Wrinkle in Time is one of my beloved books, but it isn't an all time favourite. It's not in my top ten, despite how much it means to me, and for all I love Meg I did still struggle with certain elements of the novel and areas the plot journied. I love it, cherish it, but I also... don't, necessarily, all of the time. Which seems a tricky kind of thing to navigate.

An alternate point to this discussion is what happens, what does it mean for/to me, when someone says "I hate/struggled with/was unimpressed by/didn't understand (ect.) Meg"? A distinct variation of not liking someone/thing but also not understanding them/it in the same way you do, and one that is infinitely closer to home, was the time I saw someone had stuck pins into a corkboard at my extracurricular activity place, spelling out the fact they hated me- I who was 8 or 9 at the time. The time, effort and perserverance of that act astounds me, still, and I wonder: what facet of me did they hate? What was there about a passionate child that made someone think I'll do this where everyone can see it? No one understands you like you understand yourself. Everyone sees everything differently. The point here is: can you not like the one character I see myself in almost absolutely (or a facet of them), and yet still like me? Do we see the people we read about in a unique light to every other person who reads about them (of course), taking them not only by what is there, on the page, but what we need there to be, what we pick up on, what we like and loathe about ourselves and others. I see myself in Meg Murray and it is a comfort, but maybe you see her as just a person, and there are elements to her that rile you- and should I automatically think you don't like me, or wouldn't want to know me, as a result of that? 
Would I look at someone who said a character I didn't like was basically them and give up all hope of knowing them?
I don't think so, to either of those questions, and that seems the obvious, reasonable answer. We aren't completely defined by a single thing, and just because you dislike a facet of something doesn't mean you dislike every person who has that facet (in most circumstances, there are definitely some exemptions here), who values themselves a certain way or thinks along certain terms regarding their dreams.

I think that with books, stories, characters, we have this amazing chance at finding ourselves in a way we might not otherwise be able to, and it is so exciting, thrilling, impossibly wonderful, and that also makes it shattering and personal when you see the thoughts of others on that character and they are not nice and praising and understanding of what this means to you. It's absolutely a personal experience, and one that we have a chance to share when maybe, before, if it was just us, we wouldn't have, and finding a way to cope with everything that comes from sharing and being open and exposed is something we must manage. Because even if it's distanced from you, the way a book is distanced from its reader, it can still be personal and it can still hurt.

So I come up with an answer: just because you don't like the character doesn't mean you don't like me. And yet I still think about this, on and off, semi-regularly, because it's an idea that fascinates me endlessly. Maybe because it's so impossible to compile all the ways you look at yourself, which makes it so tempting, and when you find a character that comes so close to matching you it's something to be indefinitely protective and passionate about. Maybe I think about it because I'm fragile, beneath a bit of a hard shell (like a turtle), and I remember that pinboard and how long I cried for after seeing it, and even when I don't care- even then- a part of me still thinks that it's important whether or not people like me.
And really, if I like myself, I don't know that it really is.

What character do you identify with so strongly it almost hurts? Any further ponderings?

6 comments:

  1. I cannot say much about this post, because I have never really found a character that made me go: YES, ME. THERE I AM. I think, if any one character was as close to me as possible, it might be Jena from Wildwood Dancing. I always felt a pretty strong kinship with her, more so than a lot of other characters that I have read about before or since.

    I think it would be so wonderful to find a character that almost (or did) completely represent you and how you feel about yourself. I think that would be incredibly special.

    But I also think that if someone read about that character and didn't like them, that that is not necessarily them saying that they would not like you if they ever met you. And that is because each and every one of us brings something different to a reading experience. Our past, our emotions, our relationships, our desires, our fears, our likes, and our dislikes. No two different people would ever read the same book, and thus would never see a character in the same way. So I don't think you should be discouraged by this in any way, dear.

    Also, all the boo and side eyes and lip curls to that pin board person. <3

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    1. All I can say is: it's a pretty damn good feeling. I kind of couldn't believe it, and I also felt so entirely thrilled that I had found this person I loved so dearly and who was so like me it was shocking and also wonderful. Simultaneously, most people who know me and read that book? They probably won't say "oh yeah, that's Romi alright" and that also intrigues me so much. Whether you have a character who is a little like you, a lot like you, or who you just get in this completely unique and incredible way, I think it's something so special and wonderful and a feeling I will never stop cherishing. I'm so happy there's a character who does have that link, because it IS so special.

      You know (and probably aren't surprised, tbh), I pretty much agree with that- although I can't help but think on this topic and have that sense of wonder about it on a bunch of different levels. You're so entirely right that we DO bring new things to every story we read (which is fantastic), although the fact people might not see me for who I am because I say I'm so like this character, it doesn't bother me too much. There are always people who will learn who you are to them, not only who you are to yourself, and that's such an important aspect of every relationship.

      *hugs* xx

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  2. I do think that when reading we all experience not only the book and story differently, but also the characters. Whether it's because we relate to the character or not, but maybe also due to our own mind and how we might fill in details ourselves that aren't there. We see characters in a different light because of who we are, the reader. We don't look at things in the same perspective, because we all are different.

    So I definitely think that even if you don't like some characteristics in a character in a book you might still be able to like a person in real life who has those.

    There are also aspects like being a control freak for example that i can related to in characters, but it also can annoy me because the book might bring the negative aspects of that characteristic to the forefront as well.

    I can't remember if I ever had a character I identified with so strongly. Often it's bits and pieces I identify with and other not. I do think it would be a wonderful to find a character like that with whom you can identify so much, but it also makes remarks that people make about that character more personally probably.

    Then again it can be difficult to hear someone say something negative about a book or character you like. But that's also the beauty of reading and of people in general, we are all different and experience things different. We might not like the same thing, but that also means that for each book there will be someone who likes it.

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    1. Oh, I agree 100%, Lola. There's such a uniqueness to reading (it's entirely unique, really, to each and every person, which is so fantastic), and to seeing all the characters and even how you see yourself, compared to how others see you, is unique. There are facets to all of us that might only live within and never (or rarely) appear externally, and those are maybe the most important parts, or the parts we see in other people/characters and cherish for their presence.

      That's a nice way of putting it! It definitely can be a setback-kind-of feeling when you love something so much and someone inevitably doesn't, but that's life. And I hope that if you love something enough - and as long as it doesn't hurt people - then you can keep on loving it, even when people don't agree that it's the best story in the universe. It's definitely a unique and wonderful thing about reading, specifically, that we can all enjoy different things and find a book or a character that sings to us when most others only talk. xx

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  3. There was something so honest about the way Meg reacted to world and wrestled with her insecurities. I may not have been able to get into A Wrinkle in Time but I appreciated her character a lot. It's wonderful when you find a character who you could strongly identify with.

    I really identified with Lirael and Ari (from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.) They're both really introspective people. I've read a few reviews where people are quite frustrated with Lirael's character and I can understand why but I also get that protective feeling too. Though I don't mind as much when ever I imagine that I felt the same in a vice-versa way. To err on the side of empathy works best.

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    1. That's definitely one of the reasons I connected with her so strongly - not because ~I~ am outwardly honest about my feelings, not all of the time (eh, most of the time, really), but because her way of thinking was so incredibly similar to my own, and that was quite shocking and wonderful.

      I'm glad you've found characters you identify with, too, Glaiza, because it's such a special, wonderful feeling! Oh, that's a neat way of thinking of it- I definitely know people who adore certain characters that I truly can't stand, and that doesn't change how I feel about them or whether I think they're a good person or not. It just makes me realise how vastly taste can differ, which is certainly something that can be a nice reminder of the vasteness of things. xx

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Thank you so much for reading my post and, if you care to, commenting! It means a lot to me that you have thoughts on this thing (whatever it may be), too, and want to share them.

Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x