Even Bloggers Get the Blues
I know you are all impressed by my stunningly creative post title. Thank you, thank you. I just started the book--a 1977 copy from my mother's bookshelf and the first book in a while that she cautioned me against losing or wrecking. And I see why!
For starters, I want to say that if I were a writer, I would want to write just like Tom Robbins. Many a professor has either marveled or cringed (or both) at my ability to craft meandering sentences that, while remaining grammatically correct and while avoiding the status of run-on, could be much aided by a period, semicolon, dash (my personal favorite) or colon here or there. And while I was thoroughly not Faulknerian by any stretch of the imagination, Tom Robbins is slightly so, with a deliciously mild hippie--hear that, NOT hipster, hippie--edge.
Most impressive to me, thus far, though, is Robbins' acute and eerily applicable portrayal of economic, political and social realities of America. (No way, TPBN, you say, you? Enjoying the political and social implications of a book? Get right out of town. . .).
Here are some passages which I expect will become most cherished and dear to me:
So Sissy lived in Richmond, Virginia, in the Eisenhower Years, so called as if the passing seasons, with their eggs hatching and rivers rising, their cakes baking and stars turning, their legs dancing and hearts melting, their lamas levitating and poets doing likewise, their cheerleaders getting laid at drive-in picture shows and old men dying in rooms over furniture stores, as if they, the passing seasons, could be branded by a mere President; as if time itself could toddle out of Kansas and West Point, popularize a military jacket and seek election to Eternity on the Republican ticket.
Faulknerian, indeed. And beautifully so. This idea of not defining time and nature and the minute details that encompass human life simply by, in his words, mere external circumstances such as Presidency is of great interest to me. We get so wrapped up in the states of our political reality that selves get lost and people are forgotten--even by the candidates chosen to represent them, at times.
But plans are one thing and fate another. When they coincide, success results. Yet success mustn't be considered the absolute. It is questionable, for that matter, whether success is an adequate response to life. Success can eliminate as many options as failure.
I like this because we tend to think of those who take traditional paths to "successful lives" as those who have done the right thing, but really what they've done is behave conventionally. And I'm not proposing that there is anything wrong with a little conventionality, but by the same token there isn't so much wrong with unconventionality. I love the last sentence. It's undeniable. If you consider yourself "successful," imagine all of the ways in which you life could be different if you hadn't chosen the path you did. Maybe in some ways it could be way worse, but maybe there are sources of happiness that could have been pursued had you not made it to where you are today. Or maybe not. But the mere act of thinking about it makes true that last sentence. I know I'll remember those words the next time (yes, I admit it has happened before and will happen again) I begin to judge someone's choices or lifestyle.
And then, there's this really long passage from which I will take only a small, wonderful example of Robbins' mastery of his art:
With me, something different and deep, in bright focus and pointing the way, arrived in the practice of hitchhiking. I am the spirit and the heart of hitchhiking, I am its cortex and its medulla, I am its foundation and its culmination, I am the jewel in its lotus. And when I am really moving, stopping car after car after car, moving so freely, so clearly, so delicately that even the sex maniacs and the cops can only blink and let me pass, then I embody the rhythms of the universe, I feel what it is like to be the universe, I am in a state of grace.
Amazing, right? Maybe I'm missing the point. Maybe Robbins is being funny here, and satirical and whatnot, describing hitchhiking in such an overzealous way. Well, even if he is, my highest hope is to one day feel about my own life's calling and passion something like the way Sissy feels about hitchhiking. I know I'll get there. And if we've learned anything here at O.T.L., we've learned that authorial intention means nothing, right friends?