Many subjects (very long)

Courtney M Eckhardt cme at MIT.EDU
Mon Jul 24 00:29:48 EDT 2000


Hallo all,

I have finally caught up to the present on list mail!  I'm so proud of
myself. ;)  Consequently, however, this is a very long email indeed.

Escapism: 
I have never taken mind-altering drugs that weren't prescribed (though I
have taken some that were wrongly prescribed- grrr), and I won't drink
alcohol "socially", but I do drink alcohol for the flavor.  The closest
I've ever gotten to being tipsy is one time when I was possibly 15 or 16
and at my grandparents' house (they have a fine disrespect for
federally-set drinking ages, being French-Canadian by descent and
attitude) and my grandfather had given me a margarita.  It was in a large
tumbler, and though I think it was pretty dilute I came to a realization
around the time I had nearly finished it; if I opened my mouth anything at
all might come out, which would tip my mother off to what my grandfather
had *really* given me, and *then* the fur would fly! I sat in the corner
of the room and concentrated on my book and said nothing at all for about
an hour until I thought I was safe again. :)

I don't smoke, I really hate the smell of all burning tobacco products,
and the smell of burning marijuana makes me nauseous in very short order.

The thought of being drunk or high or in any other mind-altered state
where I don't have full control over what I say and do has always bothered
me... I always felt that there were things in my mind that were very
private that I didn't want to get out, and of course "everyone knows" that
when you're drunk or high your judgement is at least different than when
you're not, and I was terrified of spilling things that I never wanted to
get out.  It felt like giving up control of *my* life to some other random
person who I didn't know.

I do self-medicate with caffeine, but oddly enough not for its properties
as a stimulant- it is closely related to a prescription anithistimine
called Theophylline, and when I an having allergy or asthma troubles I
drink lots of coffee and chai to help them.  I am not affected in any way
by the stimulating or addictive properties of caffeine, in fact- except in
such massive doses that it is nearly life threatening.  (I did massively
overdonse once- that was *most* unpleasant and very frightening.  I had no
money at the time to buy asthma medications, and pots and pots of hot
coffee were the only thing I could get that would help me breathe better.)

I have loved reading from a very young age, and had frustrations similar
to Jennifer's- reading over any meal was Rude and Inconsiderate and the
proper thing to do what Spend Time with the Family- oddly enough this rule
was enforced even for solitary meals.  And even now I read while walking
places (if you've never barked your shins on a fire hydrant and then
apologized to it for running into it you're missing out on valuable
reading time!), and yanking myself out of a book is as disruptive and
disorienting as waking up to an obnoxious alarm clock.  In fact, I've
actually referred to the process of switching from the book to physical
world as "waking up".  I always felt as though the passage in A Little
Princess where Sara's temper upon being interrupted when reading is
described described me very well.

Square pegs:
I was very much a square peg as a child.  And I know that I read a lot to
get away from that feeling.  Part of my problem was that I was never very
shy about expressing my opinions!  I am still a bit of a square peg,
partly because I'm so opinionated, but I feeel better about what I've done
with my life than I did when I was in my teens and single digits, so the
feeling doesn't bother me very much anymore.  As Sally was saying,
self-rewards may be the only ones you get.  And I must admit to agreeing
with Jennifer that readers make more interesting adults, and that smug
certainty help insulate my ego. ;)

I do think a lot of DWJ heros fit that- as, in fact, DWJ does herself, if
you read the autobiographic material on suberic.net.  Tonino and Angelica
had it in Magicians of Caprona, Cat had it, Sophie did (though it was
arguably mostly self-imposed in her case), the children in Time of the
Ghost (and Sally felt somewhat apart from her sisters even), and Witch
Week...!

Irina, responding to HSchinske at aol.com:
>> and if so,
>> why didn't they keep it in the US edition?
>
>Because US editors seem to think that American readers are stupid.
>Yes, they really think that.

I think I remember people on this list bemoaning this phenomenon with
respect to some of DJW's books... Black Maria?  It certainly reminds me of
DWJ's comments about writing for adults versus writing for children, and
her description of the writing of A Sudden Wild Magic.

Time City:
And to be an opinionated minority, I now want to loudly declare that I
*loved* A Tale of Time City and I thought the world there was just
wonderful.  ;)

But really, I did like the way she designed her theory of time, and I
don't understand the opinion that her world-building was not up to snuff
in this book.  Perhaps someone could try to explain?

Someone (I'm sorry I can't remember who, and I can't find the email,
despite grubbing through the archives for a few hours) said that they
disliked the fact that the Time City inhabitants seemed to take History as
fixed from their vantage point.  I didn't like this either, but I don't
think you're supposed to.  It's like that horrible "trial" at the end
where Vivian was to be exiled for something outside her control because it
would be inconvenient to have her in Time City or in History (which they
thought they needed to maintain control of).  I think their perception of
history was supposed to be another wrong thing about them that Vivian's
presence was supposed to help fix, because she didn't come from Time City
and could see things differently.  It's like those British
school-stories-for-boys authors people were (justifiably, I think)
complaining about:  I think DWJ is *trying* to show the Time City people
as bigoted in such a longstanding and universally acceptable manner that
they don't realize they're bigoted.  Just MHO. :)

Courtney
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