Pinocchio, your nose is growing

Do you know what truth is? Because I don’t anymore.

When it comes to politics, I don’t think there is a truth. And I’m not talking politics, like presidents and government, because that’s a whole other can of worms. I’m talking politics as in the balance of personal opinions as it weighs on everyone’s beliefs. This is coming from my side job of teaching for those of you at home. 

I’m sorry. Let me explain:

Essentially the truth as we know it does not exist. The common belief that fact equates truth isn’t real, just as opinion doesn’t equate fact. The reality is truth equates opinion. Because the bottom line is this: As soon as you believe in what you’re saying, to you, that is the truth, no matter whether it’s right or wrong.

And this is where I struggle at work. I like to consider myself a blunt person. Maybe it’s because I over analyze my own actions and those of others, but I prefer a blunt nature than one hidden and contrived. I prefer someone to tell me their truth, if so I can see things from their point of view, maybe understand where they’re coming from. Because, everyone has a reason. Even if they don’t consciously know it. But as soon as someone begins to hide their truth, this is where I get frustrated. I like to know what people think, and you hiding your thoughts from me…that’s frustrating.

I want opinions. I want your truth. And maybe this is a personal thing, maybe it’s an author thing. Maybe it’s human. But, I like to think that out of all the things it means to be human, your belief is the most important one of all.

One of my truths:

If you can’t be right, be confident.

People are going to hate me for that. But, I like to think that we’re all going to be wrong at some point in our life, due to probability and such, so why not be confidant? What’s wrong with being wrong? It’s an opportunity for growth and learning, whether you teach somebody or somebody teaches you. We should celebrate learning, and we do – in the odd Western way of graduation after completing your pathway or monetized learning. But seriously, we should celebrate being wrong. Why be shy about it? If it happens to everyone, what’s the big deal?

Why do we have to lie about it?

The problem with plot-driven stories

Haven’t posted here for a while, but I feel like it’s time to compile my thoughts on China Miéville, especially since I’ve read one of his popular books (Perdido Street Stations) and am in the process of reading another one (Kracken). He has a tendency to make me think – not a bad thing.

This will contain some spoilers, some heavy opinion, so back toward the door if you want neither of these.

Perdido was good. I liked it. It had this finely tuned plot, that was extremely dependent on details. Miéville never forgot about his characters, kept everyone turning about the clock, picking up stories and dropping them off, always as soon as they were done. What I did not like was the fact that it felt very plot-driven, not character-driven.

For me, the big push to read is the human element. Their voice. Their thoughts. Their opinion. To me, the most interesting writing is the one where people voice their beliefs, where their voices are loud enough to convince me to read. Even if that voice is wrong, stupid, or brilliant. I read because of the strength of their belief, driving a sense of captivation.

Miéville story was not captivating. Don’t get me wrong. I liked his story. I wanted to read. But it was one of those books that I had to drive myself to read, to push myself forward because I wanted to know what happened, even while my unconscious pushed me in the other direction. This was a book I read slowly. And while there is an audience that prefers this type of book, I am not one of them.

This book was definitely plot-driven.

Personality of a plot-driven book:

  • Excess of setting details – I don’t think it’s a bad thing the world was this well constructed, but I do think this is a significant hint to when a book is plot driven
  • Heavy use of metaphors – I don’t think I’m crazy, but there were a lot of direct comparisons in this book. Between the city and Issac and Yagharek. I’d have to look back to find an example, but I remember thinking this multiple times
  • Heavy use of abstract descriptions – At least in Perdido, there were a lot of heavy abstract descriptions that kept me from accurately visualizing a scene. I had to sit there spending energy on comprehension than on reading. I don’t think this is a hugely bad thing, depending on this ratio of time. For me, for some parts, it wasn’t worth it
  • Discordant scenes – This is where Miéville’s planning shines through. His plot is very detail dependent, and there were scenes necessary to introduce later parts within the story. But this made certain scenes stand out, seem random, and otherwise just not fit in with the rest of the story. For example, the mechanic placing a virus on the floor cleaner.
  • Abandoned/heartless characters – Here is where I’m torn. To me, his characters don’t have enough life, but it could be he doesn’t give them enough life. In Perdido, I saw Lin abandoned when we thought she was dead. And I’m torn. I half-liked it because it created the suspicion that she was dead, but I was annoyed to have the big cliche reveal of she’s alive. In Kraken, his characters don’t seem to have enough life/heart. They aren’t driven, so neither am I. It seems more like the plot is pulling the characters along rather than having the characters driving the plot.

I read for the individual. I read for the psychology. Maybe that’s why I like his other book better. Kraken definitely started out with a lot of psychology. It was all about beliefs, particularly cultist beliefs. And boy did my interest with this book jump forward. I don’t find myself as captivated with this one as with other books. I think it still retains some of the personality of plot-driven books, but he’s definitely picking up some characteristics found within character-driven books.

But while I find a lot of negatives with Miéville, I also find a lot of positives. Miéville is one of the more creative, original, inventive authors, and it’s interesting to read online that he has redone steam punk, making it once more un-cliched. I think I would definitely read Miéville again, if only to learn his method of plotting. His does a good job with his inventions. But, he’s not my style. I wouldn’t mimic his methods, at least for my preference.

Miéville, C. Perdido Street Station. London, Great Britain: Del Rey, 2000. Print.

Miéville, C. Kraken. New York, NY: Del Rey, 2010. Print.

Jargon of the People

“You’re firemountain-glass, Dama.” He says this very softly. “You’re a gift of the earth-but Father Earth hates us, never forget, and his gifts are neither free nor safe. If we pick you up, hone you to sharpness, treat you with the care and respect you deserve, then you become valuable. But if we just leave you lying about, you’ll cut to the bone the first person who blunders across you. Or worse-you’ll shatter, and hurt many.” (Jemisin 38)

I wanted to start with this quote because how evocative it is.

Firemountain-glass – this may be because I’ve had geology classes, but already I can picture volcanoes spewing lava, where the molten rock cools into the shiny black rock that breaks so neatly, each piece resembling a sharp piece of glass – and cuts like one too. It’s so easy to compare Dama to this, aligning her with this image so quickly.

“Father Earth hates us” – with this piece, we crystallize the religion of the people, and although I’ve never been a fan of religion, I’m a huge supporter of beliefs. If someone has an opinion, I’m interested. Even if I care squat about religion, I care that they care. I love strong opinions.

You’re “valuable” and dangerous – I love how this single quote immortalizes the love/hate relationship people have with Dama’s species. It didn’t take but a single sentence to show me, but it shows how Dama can conjure fear and respect. All it took was opposites to illustrate Jemisin’s point.

These are just a few of the reasons I really love this quote. But, I think the most important piece of the quote is how it summarizes the jargon of the people. This shows me their voice, how they speak. It’s casual; it’s stressful. I can feel the weight this guy places on this little girl’s shoulders.

It’s hard to solidify voice, but by reading enough pieces with it, you can develop an idea.

The questions you should be asking, is how do I know he’s male?

Why does he sound like a judge? A teacher?

Why do I feel like he’s judging me?

Jemisin, N.K. Fifth Season. New York, NY: Orbit, 2015. Print.