Cast to the Wizard Sea
Have you ever felt like no matter what goes on you are still drowning in a sea of stuff (pick your poison)? I mean if it isn’t the rash of emergency room visits that have plagued us lately it is the cold that the Squish (youngest grand daughter) has decided to inflict on all of us. I mean I have had some of the ugliest days of the cold over the past few days and I honestly don’t think it ever wants to let go. But none of this really has anything to do with the matter at hand…
Except maybe the sea of classic books that always seems to grow around us. You know what I’m talking about, that ever growing list of books that everyone who is anyone tells us we should read or we haven’t really experienced the world of literature. And for you snobs in the literary hierarchy this is true for any type of literature. I mean to say that there are some that have transcended the gutters they have been pushed into because of what the books contain and then some that should be pushed into the gutters because well, damn…
Or maybe I am simply babbling again and fighting more of the internal battles that we all go through when we picture the conspiracies of the literary world (that isn’t just me is it?).
Anyway… There is a point in here somewhere.
Up until recently the only experience I had had with any of Ursula K. Le Guin’s work had been through the mini series of Wizard of Earthsea (was that the name of that one?). I’ve never read some of her bigger works or even approached anything she had done except for a small dalliance in a couple winged kitty books she had written for children (those were a bit odd).
For anyone who reads Science Fiction it is one of those things that she is a writer that “everyone” says you have to read. The funny thing is, I have never really been one to read writers just because they are classic or anything like that. Granted there are a few that I dig into because they write stuff I like but it rarely has anything to do with them being “must reads.” Of course, I might be getting a bit off topic again.
So yeah, I ran across the book Wizard of Earthsea recently while I was walking the stacks at work. I figured what the heck and started reading. It’s one of those things, you know like, it’s not a surprise, the book exists. It’s been sitting on the shelf forever, you may as well read it. You know where I’m coming from right? At least I hope you do. We all have book experiences like that. Just me? Bueller… Bueller…
Anyway, so I burned through the book. Or in other words, I ended up setting everything else I am reading right now aside in order to read the book. And you might think that is a mark of a can’t put it down book, but really in this case it was because I have a deadline with it and several other things I am reading so I wanted to give it some full attention to digest the story and get on to the other stuff I have waiting as well.
I am not saying that I didn’t like the story. I actually enjoyed it and have a number of thoughts on it. I just find myself in a time crunch right now and wanted to make sure I got through it and could move on. But at the same time, the book itself isn’t a heavy read. This isn’t one that you would feel like you are gorging on just a few paragraphs. Instead it is a lighter meal that leaves you feeling satisfied.
But I digress…
As I was reading through the story, I found a number of times where I could see how other stories might have stemmed from the work itself. It’s one of those things that isn’t plagiarism but the growth of shared experiences.
As I sit here, I am thinking of ways that I can put this into our minds that will make sense. The trouble is, I have a number of different moments that come to mind and they all hit the idea in different ways and through different mediums but none of them quite fit the idea perfectly. The funny part of that, it all comes down to different moments in art in all of its forms.
With music we have what feels like the birth of different movements. Take grunge for instance. When it came out there were a number of copy cat groups that added to the sound, sure but it never really stopped there. The feel of the music and the sound had a further effect on our musical landscape. It changed how everything we experienced after it has been interpreted. And even now we don’t even remember a time when those sounds didn’t exist.
When we look at visual art we have moments in time where the different artists all played off each other and movements and periods were delineated. But those techniques never really went away. They became part of our landscape.
This was a bit of the take-away I had reading the book. It doesn’t matter if the stuff that went into it was new or old, it is part of the fantasy landscape and part of the story being told in different ways while remaining subtly familiar within the worlds of fantasy. I saw elements she had used within the story that I could also see in books written by those who have come after her. And it was good.
I think sometimes we get so caught up searching and driving for the new and unique experience that we forget the importance of what makes the experiences we already have special. Sometimes we need to take a few moments to step back and process what has come into our lives and know that these are the things that make those new experiences so special in the first place. And even in the quest for new experiences we are still playing off our past and how it has shaped our lives.
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