Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three Books for Three Days

During the past three days, I had the good sense and the ability to read three incredible books: Terror Dream, Susan Faludi; Blindness, Jose Sarmago; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer. My thoughts rarely ever stray too far from analysing post 9.11 United States, but the first and the last titles allowed me to examine the event from other, fresher microscopes.

Faludi; though at times I get annoyed when her emotions, innocence, and lack of experience (of poverty, of motherhood, of siblings even) interfere with her logic and reason, I always hang on for the ride because I know - whether or not I agree with her observations - that I will praise her for her insight. Part of her thesis is that America returned to its (ir)regularly scheduled program following 9.11; the one in which voices of intelligent women all but disappear from the media, the one in which women are the helpless victims, and men are our saviors.

My opinion: it's a valid and true argument. It wasn't and isn't enough that the U.S. is fighting a war (as a result of the despotic rule of GWB n' Co). I believe the same thing occured during the years of the Vietnam War. The war wasn't just over there>>>, it was propagandized as an attack on home soil as well, with enemies like "hippies" (who, in reality opposed so much more than the war!), "blacks", drug users, criminals (laughable, considering it was Nixon pushing the message), feminists, and Muslims. Why did masses of people still rise up against the system? Was the propaganda late in coming? Was there no real attack on home soil, like Pearl Harbor, to gather together the people to fight and support a war? Did citizens have too much freedom? Or federal authorities too little control? Was it because they didn't have a privatized mercenary army? Obviously, this isn't the medium to properly address these questions; I just want to plant the seeds.

I don't know about you, but from where I stand I've been able to see unbelievable change in this country in the past six years. For the record: I don't participate in viewing television programs and I don't pay much attention to corporate media, which includes movies and popular magazines. I witness enough of it though. I read more than anyone I know, not much fiction. And I observe people...on purpose. I listen to them, watch their actions, their mannerisms.

Right now, the change coming to mind pertaining directly to women is how readily so many are willing to objectify themselves these days. I see it more in the younger women. It seems common, accepted and most definitely encouraged. Is it related to 9.11 and the return to cultural mores long established that place women in the mythological role of victim or object needed by the supposed hero to validate his self worth? I don't know. I just notice it, and after reading Terror Dream the other day, I thought, 'man, I wish I could have a conversation with this woman', because she's observed something similar. Her book provided me with a different venue to explore what I think I believe about that. Anyway, I highly recommend taking the time to read it or sections of it, and be patient. While Faludi may not have 20/20 insight, she's damn close.

Oh! Almost forgot! As for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - not that anyone is looking to be told what to read - you should just read it, obviously. (that's something Oskar would say - obviously) Oskar is the nine year old from whose perspective the reader hears most of the narrative, and whose father had a meeting at Windows on the World the morning of 9.11. It' speaks for itself. Yes, it's that good.


  1. Of the three books you mentioned, I've only read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Just had to chime in to say what an amazing book this is (as is Foer's other, Everything Is Illuminated--the book, not the movie!!). And, to add to the chant of: just read it!

  2. hey ehrrin,
    I read Everything Is Illuminated the other night. I think I'm in love with JSF. ;-) My favorite metaphor: the newlyweds who move into a place next to a waterfall. All they hear is the noise of the water, so much that they have to yell to hear what the other is saying. Then, one day they notice that the waterfall has become but minor din in their aural landscape. It's at this point, I think, they achieve unconditional love for eachother.
    That's what the book is really about, right? In one way or another, it's about learning to love. Though I got the feeling, it was left unresolved for JSF at the book's end; as though he rejected it. It's in Extremely Loud that JSF both accepts and is able to love himself.
    I'd love to know what you think.