Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Never Let Go

This topic came to me after reading Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. And if you read my last post, you'll know half the reason why. Because this book has stayed with me long, long after reading it in some profound and soul shaking way, which definitely tells me that it was orsum.

But I also came away with a real sense of how flawed it was, too. The worldbuilding in the book was not airtight. I could see the cracks, try as I might to avoid them. And yet, inspite of these cracks I loved it anyway.

Which got me thinking: does it really matter? Does it really matter if they wouldn't truly be kept out in the open like that, if the themes of the book ring so deeply through me? If one small thing about a character resonates wholly with me?

I don't think it does, because life is the same. We don't just throw life away, because one small thing is bad. Because of one tiny crack- or maybe even several cracks, all spiralling together and conspiring to bring us down. Would I say that my life is awful, simply because five out of a thousand people took it upon themselves to make me miserable?

I don't think I could, with a clear conscience. And it's the same with art, for me. I've never understood those people who'll give something like Never Let Me Go one star, just because the world didn't quite hold together in it or because the boarding school was a little too twee and British or any number of reasons like that. One star means irredeemable, one star means nothing was right about it.

One star doesn't have characters as rich and detailed as that, between its pages. And similarly, a one star life? Would be starving in the desert. It would be everyone around you dropping dead, the entire world going up in flames. It would be never kissing another person, never loving another person or being loved. A one star life would be the grimmest thing you could ever imagine, and if that doesn't make life five stars well that's okay.

Maybe life is five stars just because it is. You're in it and you're living it and you get to have perfect moments like reading Never Let Me Go for the first time and feeling everything you're supposed to feel, as a human being. And maybe that wondrousness wouldn't be half so wondrous, if you hadn't felt the ground shift beneath your feet. Followed the cracks to some impossible precipice. Wondered if you should give up.

But I never will, because of so many things that are flawed, but orsum. People and places and little unexpected moments. So many, many movies that everyone hates but me, like My Demon Lover and Return To Oz and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yes, it has Barbra Streisand in it. Yes, it's kind of her vanity project. Yes, I still love it anyway.

Hell, I still love Barbra Streisand anyway. She was Yentl, for Christ's sake! Mandy Patinkin got all confused in his nethers about her! He was nearly naked and all hairy in that movie, and she practically deserves an award, just for that.

She deserves an award for mysteriously making me talk about Yentl, in the middle of a post about being flawed, but orsum. When what I really wanted to say was this:

The two will always go together: flawed and orsum. Imperfect and perfect. And both makes the other one better, because the memory of that flaw should always make us hold tighter to the orsum, and the orsumness should always shield us against the flaw. And I think it does. I think they do.

I think it's okay that I love life, too.


  1. I thought Never Let Me Go was one of the best science fiction books I'd ever read. It certainly makes you think about what it means to be human. One star? No way.

    I like your idea that flawed and awesome have to exist together. Much to think about there.

  2. One of the things that I love about being part of the Grip is the way that people surprise me. This post wasn't at all what I expected - but I loved it.

    And I also really enjoyed NEVER LET ME GO. I hate nitpickers who are always trying to steal the joy. (Relevant to Garce's post also.)

  3. Kathleen- Exactly! At the very least it makes you think about human relationships and humanity and the like. Sometimes am just really not sure what people want/expect. And thanks!

    Lisabet- Definitely, re: nitpickers. I mean, I don't mind some nitpicking. Maybe a bit of- oh well, that bit was rubbish. But when you let nitpicking rob you of any joy you might get out of something...that's just sad.


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