My reading of books selected by other people has finally paid a major dividend – a dividend beyond seeing into the souls of my friends, which is lovely in itself. I finally FINALLY figured out what, in all the “good books”, I could not stand.
It goes beyond the endless (and endlessly boring) literature of adultery, which is what I thought my problem was. I don’t like reading about people without virtue. It’s the idea that one “just finds oneself” doing things. I can’t relate. You can find yourself experiencing an emotion without choice, but you do have a choice about what to do with the emotion. “I found myself in love with him”. Okay. And you then refused to see him at all and took up underwater basketweaving in Peru to get your mind off of things they needed to be off of? No? Don’t whine to me. I am not impressed.
Unless you drug me, I’m not going to “find myself” doing things. You can reduce my choices radically – you can throw me in a jail cell, you can rape me, you can impoverish me… yes, you can cut my number of choices to the bone. But I still retain choice as long as I am awake and alive.
I retain choice of attitude. Choice of thoughts. Choice of speech or silence.
I don’t TAKE action without thinking about it first. I just don’t. And even if I did – I could always change course. I’ve had to do that in life. Not fun, but it’s doable.
So when I’m reading about a protagonist who “just finds him/herself” doing something reprehensible (or something counterproductive), I lose interest.
Sure, you make bad choices in life. I do, you do, everyone does. I don’t require my protagonists make GOOD choices. I can get behind, “I did this because of that and it led me here”. But you still made a choice. And now, enjoying the consequences of that choice, you continue to have choice… what will you do now? More choice.
So, I learned something about myself today. And that’s always a gift.
Thanks, L. Thanks Dr. Jordan of Alias Grace.