"Here. I found it. I knew it was going to be the last place I looked for it, so I looked there first."
-- Delirium, Sandman #43 by Neil Gaiman
I never even knew I'd lost it to begin with, not until a couple of days ago. I was watching TV (yes, I own one now) with my roommate, when a rerun of Friends came on. My first thought was that these had to be some of the most dysfunctional people on the face of the earth. How much back talk and how much infighting can one group take?!? And then, two of them (Chandler and Monica) went to get their pre-wedding pictures taken, and they discovered that Chandler could not smile when it came to being in front of a camera.
Then I thought back on the pictures I've seen of me, and realized that the last picture of me where I was smiling was my high school Senior picture. And from there, every picture I look at of me shows a somber, grave expression or a sneer that looks almost contemptuous. And I'm almost positive I was trying to smile in each and every one of those pictures. And that makes me sad in a very profound way.
And then I think back even more, and I can remember zillions of times when I was enjoying myself, and everyone around me was asking, "Brian, are you OK? You look pissed at something." And that makes me even more sad.
How does a person forget how to smile? What kind of trauma does it take? And how do I find it again? I wish I knew.
I know that mess spelled backward is ssem, and I felt much better armed with that information. Over the last few hours I've allowed myself to feel defeated, and just like she said, if you allow yourself to feel the way you really feel, maybe you won't be afraid of that feeling anymore.
-- Tori Amos, in her introduction to Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living
When I was younger, I never thought I'd enjoy reading comic books. I buried myself in the worlds constructed by George Orwell, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many others, but I never really went in for comic books the way many people did.
What I really did was catch myself up in literary snobbery, and I cost myself some truly exceptional story telling. Just like there are some things you can do in books you can't do in movies, and vice versa, there's some things you can do in comics that you can't do anywhere else. For that matter, I have a problem calling them comic books anymore. Many of them are not funny.
Anyway, even when I left home and went to Santa Barbara, I didn't give them a read, even when some of my friends recommended some to me. I should have listened to them; one of the books that was offered to me to read my freshman year was Gaiman's Sandman. I finally got around to reading the entire series last year. And, from there, I've discovered Cerebus, Transmetropolitan, The Watchmen, and many other books. Some of them are the stories of super-heroes (like The Watchmen), but it's hard to tell who the good guys are sometimes. Others are long epics about the primary character and his developments during their exploits (This would be The Sandman and Cerebus).
I think I understand what people mean when they say that comics can be serious literature. If you don't believe me, then pick up one of Gaiman's shorter works (Like Death: The High Cost of Living) and give it a serious shot. I don't think you'll begrudge me the effort.
In other news, I just thought I'd tell the world that I agree with Crystal; laryngitis sucks. Even a mild case like mine, where my voice didn't go all the way away.
And, for all those Harry Potter fans who gloated about my liking the first one, you can gloat again. The second one did the same thing to me, and I'm picking up the third one this weekend. *sigh* Just what I need, another vice.