Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Passchendaele and a trip to the book store

A few months ago we saw the trailer for the movie "Passchendaele" and we both put it on our must see at the theatre list. Some movies are just meant for the big screen.

Rob mentioned the other day about going, I was definitely down with that.
When we got home from work yesterday, Rob went to the computer to check the movie listings. . . "Its playing at the Galaxy at 6:20". . .i thought that sounded great. "Oh, wait, its also playing at Empire at 6:50". This second bit of news perked me up. . I said, "How about we go to Empire, then i can make a quick trip to Chapters before the movie!!"

Rob indulges me every time I suggest going there. Its not his favourite place, but he knows i love it and I love him for that and a million other reasons. I had to reign myself in once we got there. . we didn't have too long to wait. I stayed just long enough to use my 'loyal member' extra discount coupon, which i got to use on top of my normal 10% member discount.. so sweet.

I bought a couple of books: "The White Rose, Munich 1942-1943" by Inge Scholl. . This one is a true story of two university students, a brother and sister, who were decapitated by court order for their involvement in the White Rose movement. This movement produced anti-Nazi propaganda and provided material assistance to victims of national socialism. It sounds intense. I suppose i will cry with this one, or feel a 60 years on rage, which i won't know what to do with.

I also bought "Seeing" by Nobel prize winning author Jose Saramago. . I've never heard of him, but the jacket praised him out of the stratosphere, so I thought i'd take a chance. Besides. . it was a hard cover for $7!!! I started into this one first. . and I'm going to have to stick it out -- maybe. He's got a really bizarre style, all run on and on sentences, over description to the point where I'm impatient for him to just cut the crap. get rid of the too numerous adjectives, clunky phrases and thoughts stretched into thoughtlessness and just get to the bloody point! He's strangely sparing with his punctuation. Everything runs together in a 'stream of consciousness' way. I'm not averse to that kind of storytelling, but this is almost dizzying, reading on and on, without anything stopping my eye or my brain. It feels almost appropriate to take a small breather after each megasentence.

The story sounded timely and interesting. . voting day in a democractic 'capital'. . voters aren't coming out because of severe weather - then turn out en mass when it clears. 70% of the ballots cast were blank. The citizens rebel, state of emergency is declared as a revolution erupts. When i read the liner note I'm told, "What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister." So far reading this book has almost maddened me and set my teeth on edge. I don't want to 'see' the effort in a book. I don't want to be aware of flaws and be unable to get past them when i read a story. I want it to feel natural and seamless. I want to be transported, not derailed. "Another invaluable gift from a matchless writer." ? That's what Kirkus reviews had to say about this book. Geesh. Nobel Prize award? glowing reviews from every American newspaper? I'm wondering now if i kept my receipt. Do you think they refund on marked down items?

Passchendaele could almost be another post. . perhaps soon with remembrance day upon us. The movie was so good, if that's the right word to use for anything about war? We eat up war movies, which seems odd for peace loving Canadians. I think its just our age. We were raised by families whose lives were refined in the crucible of war. . and this affected us too. Every war movie we watch may be our attempt to identify with and try to understand our loved ones. I've seen a documentary entirely about the battle of Passchendale and was so wrenched by it and so proud of our Canadian soldiers. What a bloody mess it all was. What torture, what loss and what 'victory' (however temporary). Aggression, killing, fighting. . its just hard to stomach. I find it odd to think that in 'peace' time people are punished for killing, fighting and in 'war' time they are given medals and promotions. I know it doesn't boil down just like that. Courage, patriotism, bravery, unity of purpose all mix in with the horror and chaos. Freedom of the millions weighs on the tired shoulders of men. What a paradox is war.

Why is it that we never value anything unless we're in danger of losing it?

Why does it take danger, suffering and grief to birth gratitude in us?

And why does that gratitude so quickly dissipate into a sickly, anemic sense of entitlement?

1 comment:

Allan S said...

What a wonderfull assesment of Canadians concerning war! Tou hit the nail on the head with that....Allan