OT: 2 off-topic requests for book ideas

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise jenne at fiedlerfamily.net
Tue Sep 21 16:36:55 EDT 2004

> and the Knowledge Pika came back (evidently having the book to hand; you
> must forgive me if I quote wrong, I haven't got it any more and haven't had
> for some years now)

Nah, I just slogged through Amazon's Search Inside the Book feature.
> I think that's a bit before the end, isn't it?  Some time before the last
> blowup she has in the book, before she gets the college possibility?  

Nope, it's right at the end-- 2 or three pages before the actual end.. 
Amazon says pages 247 and 248. It's definitely after she's gotten the 
college thing.

>That didn't seem to me
> like someone giving up, it seemed like someone who was going somewhere she
> had decided for herself, and showing all the courage in the world.  I'd say
> the message there was of indomitable hope, rather than despair.

Well, yes and no. Basically, she's given up on ever having a romantic 
relationship, and she knows she's going to be alone all her life, but 
she's going to do it anyway.

>  No matter
> that she has to face a world that has in her memory contained Hitler (and
> she's Jewish) and the bomb, and "sanity papers" and people's faces going
> blank when they discover her history of mental imbalance, she is now going
> out there on her own terms, without her pantheon of gods to shield her from
> reality.

I think, to drag us back to Diana Wynne Jones, she's going out there not 
on her own terms exactly, but very much like Jamie in Home Ward 
Bounders. She's going to be alone all her life, and her future is pretty 
bleak, but she's choosing it anyway.

> schizophrenic, or be prone to that particular imbalance, all her life.  I
> don't see her deeply negative feeling whilst she is still in the depths as
> being final.  Maybe it's because I had a best-friend's-mother who was
> schizophrenic, and was often very deeply disturbed and disturbing, but who
> nevertheless when not in the Pit was deeply loved, deeply lovable, and a
> very good person indeed.  Even in the 1960s there were drugs to help, and
> people who understood, and something to be made of being a human being who
> happened to have that set of chemical imbalances in their system messing up
> their views of the world some of the time.

I suppose you could teach it that way, if you were very, very careful to
stress that we don't see schizophrenia that way anymore. In that time
period, schizophrenia was seen very strongly as having a large
behavioral component (that's why she chooses to get rid of her people,
and why one might be scared that continuing a certain type of behavior
might make them a schizophrenic when they aren't already). Nowadays, 
schizophrenia is seen has being almost exclusively a neurological 

I would be very, very hesitant to offer the book to any adolescent who
might have a family history of mental illness or who has a history of 
mental illness themselves.

> Anyhow, if one were teaching using that book as a text it could easily be
> shown as having that aspect within it.  I ought to mention that when I
> first read it I thought it was autobiography, and that didn't seem to me to
> be impossible, so I have to assume that I supposed her to have become a
> writer, and maybe an artist, and maybe a person who looked the world in the
> face and spat in its eye.  Why not?  She'd been strong all the way through,
> why would she stop at the end?

Sure, she could be a writer and be strong and everything. The whole 
point was that she could make something of her life even though her 
mental illness made her only partially capable of functioning as a human 

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net 
"I have found some of the best reasons I ever had for remaining
at the bottom simply by looking at the men at the top." Frank Colby
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