Pylons of procrastination
I have refrained from spending anything on books last week: it was because I just bought Skullcandy headphones as well as a bevy of novels the week before that. I was relatively successful in that period of fasting, despite my desire as a bibliophile, to purchase more novels: I had already spent a significant amount of money, so I had promised myself to regenerate my lost savings before I went on another binge. In fact, I firmly believed that I could have done so for about a month as I still had a backlog of novels to annihilate.
However, I have noticed that a recent creative effort of mine was largely affected by the stylistic techniques of the most prominent modernists; I was not surprised, seeing that the previous four novels I had read were the products of Faulkner or Joyce. While I still believe that the appreciation toward the works of these masters is great, I also realized that being stuck with only these people would still lead to a literary stultification. Even though I would (and could) still enjoy Woolf, Kafka, and Camus as well as Faulkner and Joyce, I believe it was high time for me to broaden my horizons. Modernism, after all, isnâ€™t the only movement in literature.
My discovery of W. Somerset Maughamâ€™s Cakes and Ale thus arrived at a most opportune time: there has been a rummage sale for old books at a prominent bookstore chain near where I am currently staying, and that was one of my finds (a friend of mine commented that I was diligent in searching for good novels, because the sale section is totally disorganized). I was initially hesitant: after all, I still had a number of books to pore through. I had realized, however, (with the help of a good friend) that I had been with the same authors for more than a month; in addition, the novel poked fun at the pretensions of litterateurs (which I possess, to some extent). As I wanted to explore another author and also to learn how to avoid an excess of literary pretension (I have my standards in literature that other people may call pretentious), I decided to purchase the novel. This signalled the end of my â€˜fasting.â€™
Despite my purchase, however, I have not been able to enjoy the new novel that I had bought as I was still reading William Faulknerâ€™s Pylon.
Pylon is, on the shallow level, a novel about barnstormers: these were the pilots of fancy planes during the Great Depression who depended solely on air shows for their subsistence. It was a unique piece from Faulkner: the novel was one of the few located outside his Yoknapatawpha County. Pylon was set in New Orleans.
But despite its idiosyncrasies, the novel remains to be characteristically Faulkner: it has tons of run-on, serpentine sentences; it has influences of Joycean wordplay (this is, by far, the work of Faulkner which has the most portmanteaus) and Eliotâ€™s poetry (one chapter was named after a prominent poem of Eliotâ€™s); finally, the heady yet beautiful prose is also there. While I still wanted to savor the novel, I had to make haste because of two things: first, I have to study for my forthcoming exam; second, I was getting much too drunk on Faulkner that I wanted out: too much of a good thing is bad.
I did not want (and do not want, still) to study. One of the myriad acts of escapism I have performed has been to look in the bargain section of the bookstore chain for cheap but very good novels. This was how I found Cakes and Ale at half-price, but even then the novel was still quite expensive. What I sought in these flights-of-fancy were absolute steals (or I created them).
I have been relatively successful: I got a brand-new Timothy Findley book for $0.75; I got a tome on Hume for about $0.45; and my great steal was to purchase Dr. Franklinâ€™s Island for only $0.15. I now have more than 20 books in my backlog, but I couldnâ€™t care less.
These were just minor escapisms, however. What has actually done the brunt of vacuuming me toward laziness was manga.
I donâ€™t eschew watching anime or reading manga during school days, but these media are so efficient in evoking a potent laziness within me. Perhaps this is because they are so easy to enjoy and one does not need to turn on his analytical skills to appreciate the examples of these media. While I would want that during my summer vacation, or perhaps â€˜free timeâ€™ that is truly free, the claws of these media often have a difficulty in letting go: it is in literatureâ€™s difficulty that I can detach myself from it (in general) easily. Anime and manga, at least for me, are more pure and engrossing sources of fun, and this is what makes them so insidious with regard to oneâ€™s studies. Since when did man not want pleasure?
My biggest mistake the previous week was probably to start reading manga: after a tiring day at school I came home and simply decided to start with Me-teru no Kimochi. I was impressed with Hiroya Okuâ€™s art in Gantz and wanted to see how he dealt with a slice-of-life series. Disappointment was impossible for me because I believed that even if the manga had a bad story I would still savor its art.
That was exactly what I did. It was thus, for me, a decent read. Although the ending was not very satiating (and seemed rushed), it was a decent story overall. Personally, though, I would have wanted the ending to be happier (i.e. the guy ending up with the girl), but it was still okay.
This seemingly innocuous manga reading began my five-day dive into the world of escape: after finishing Me-teru no Kimochi I started reading Yuria 100 Shiki when I woke up. (Yes, I recognize my bromidic taste in manga; I wanted [and want] to escape, after all, and I did not want to think much. Reading Faulkner in itself is already a heavy mental task.) I enjoyed it, despite it having a lack of plot progression: even after 28 chapters, barely anything happened. Because of this, I dropped the series (at least, until something happens). Despite my taste in manga Iâ€™m still not fond of anything devoid of plot progression.
I started reading Happy World after reading the most recent scanlated chapter of Yuria 100 Shiki. Among the four that I have read in the previous five days (IO will come later), Happy World has been the most enjoyable. I am very glad that my discovery of the manga has been timely: pew pew had only to release the final four chapters when I started reading the manga, so I simply stopped at the end of the tenth volume (and waited for the series to be completed). While waiting, I decided to read IO.
IO was an exciting manga, despite the fact that it was heavily flawed. In spite of these flaws, however, I have still been able to enjoy the series (no small part because of the women). I admired the gentlemanly nature of the protagonist. He deserved his harem.
All these manga have used up about five days of â€˜free timeâ€™ supposed to be used for studying. (But reading them is just so fun!) I recognize, however, that the tomfoolery needs to stop. This has been the reason why I did not start reading a new novel: I need to use all my remaining free time to concentrate on my exams next week. Time may not be reverted (I have no regrets) but the pylons of procrastination must be torn down, if not totally destroyed. Until my return, long live manga!
P.S. Takeshi’s dad is so GAR. T_T