Ego

I am nearly finished with a book that I am enjoying (so far.)

I did not like this book very much at the beginning. The author has an odd style, and her structure is very different from the sort I am used to. I thought at first that she was doing that awful thing that authors sometimes get up to, where they alter their rhythm and obfuscate meanings to hypnotize the reader and push her out of herself, to ensure that all things gained from reading have root only with the author.

The rhythm is difficult to follow in places, and insights held by the characters are kept from the reader until much later in the book, but I do not think this is done out of malice, or mistrust.

I realized, reading this book, that I have an ego problem. Well, no, I already knew that I am capable of aggrandizing my abilities in my mind, only to become frustrated when I realize that all my goals are unattainable. And that I’ve purposefully chosen unattainable goals to keep my ego in check. (I exist in a vicious cycle of my own design. I would not have it any other way.) But anyway, my initial dissatisfaction with the author’s style was born out of my own bossy-pants attitude while reading.

I realized that I had encountered an ego that is almost similar in size to my own (the balance up or down is pretty much negligible), and that it was different in almost every way, and that it was not wrong. I call it ego, because to write the way she did, tossing out traditional conventions, must take a terrific amount of confidence. She was writing in a way that perfectly suited to her story, leaving out all the unimportant parts (which is what clued me in to my own problems; she was in no way forceful, just… different!), that I really just had to tune myself into before I could really enjoy it.

I think I found the right station, now. Who knew after all these hard-headed years I could still get my dials to turn?

seeing

“It will not have gone unnoticed, by particularly exacting readers and listeners, that the narrator of this fable has paid scant, not to say non-existent, attention to the place in which the action described, albeit in rather leisurely fashion, is taking place. Apart from the first chapter, in which there were a few careful brush-strokes applied to the area of the polling station, although, even then, these were applied only to doors, windows, and tables, and with the exception of the polygraph, that machine for catching liars, everything else, which is quite a lot, has passed as if the characters in the story inhabited an entirely insubstantial world, were indifferent to the comfort or discomfort of the places in which they found themselves, and did nothing but talk.”
-Jose Saramago, Seeing

Saramago sometimes offers his readers glaring insight into the ways in which he manipulates the reading mind. Strangely, it is not uncomfortable.

I will write at length on the lessons I’ve been learning about painting backdrops, but I wanted this quote in place before I dig into it.