Thursday, November 25, 2004

Now, how long ago was it that I said it would be ridiculous to sleep before 6am? And here, to-day, I woke up at 5:30am. I went to bed at frelling 10:30pm. There's just no pinning my sleeping schedule.

First thing on waking I watched Charlie Chaplin's Sunnyside. I think it's one of my favourite Chaplin short films so far. Charlie's really graceful at getting milk for his tea by putting the cup directly under the cow.

So to-day's Thanksgiving. Yesterday I was thinking about the last stanza from William S. Burroughs "Thanksgiving Prayer". I think I always think of that piece on Thanksgiving, but I think a lot of people lately are feeling "the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams."

I'm supposed to go and see Finding Neverland to-day with family. I actually already saw it with Trisa on Sunday, and fairly enjoyed it. I'm not sure I wasn't biased because the main point of the movie was an issue I hold kind of dear--that is, the relevance of fantasy in our horribly real world. The commonest arguments are "yes, fantasy's escapism but, really, we all need to escape now and then in order to function" and "Through examples illustrated by metaphor we can actually gain a useful perspective on our lives."

Those are both fine ideas, and I think both are good, to a certain degree. There's another point I like to make in face of the current popularity of non-fiction. And that is that, in a work of fiction, the greatest strength is that it has nothing to do with us except what we bring to it. There seems to be an urge in the populace to find books that tell people directly who they are and what they ought to be doing. The good fiction writer has no such intentions. Fiction is an example, the point of which is to be interesting. My feeling is that the escapism involved in fantasy is not an escape from real life but an escape from our delusions of real life. What appeals to most people, I think, about the self-help books is that they present basically logic arguments that can be adapted to fit whatever delusion is raging out of control in a person's psyche. The favourites of such delusions--particularly of the sort of people who might feel they need a self-help book--is self hatred.

It all has to do with the utmost importance of the utterly unimportant. As Oscar Wilde put it, "It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information."

I really shouldn't have tried addressing this issue when I'm still groggy . . .

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