One of my favorite things about blogging is that whenever my thinking feels stalled or when I become too caught up in the frustrations of everyday life, I know that I can rely on one of my fellow bloggers to provide the spark that re-energizes my thinking. One of the blogs I visit regularly to get my focus back is weezBlog, and her most recent entry on blogs as first-person narratives articulates something that had been eluding me. She writes:
The sad thing about a real time narrative is that one cannot skip the boring bits, or jump to the denouement…at least the unfortunate protagonist can’t.
Someone else may pick up the thread after the fact and sagely nod their head and say, “Yup. Saw that coming in post number 58. C’mon, you couldn’t figure it out by 107?”
We’re kind of myopic here, us real-time characters. Doing the sling and arrows thing. Sponges of outrageous fortune. (I do wish the omniscient one could give a clue sometimes, tell me that the outcome will be just fine…just wait a few turns, and all the disparate threads will resolve themselves).
I like the idea of connecting myopia to the everyday–that we can’t see far enough ahead to know where our stories will go. Last week, when I was in the middle of my grading marathon, I could barely see beyond the stack of papers in front of me; grading (especially when you have 75 students who all deserve for their papers to receive careful attention) requires a tremendous amount of energy and leaves me with little time for reflection. I couldn’t fast-forward to the “more interesting” stuff, whatever that will be, even if I wanted to.
Now I’m in the process of putting together applications for tenure-track jobs (revising my job letter and dissertation abstract, that sort of thing), and that feels like a different kind of vision. I still can’t see too far ahead (who knows where my current road will take me?), but I’m having a difficult time concentrating on anything nearby, too. To extend the vision metaphor, maybe it’s a bit like hyperopia (seeing things far away, but not up close) in that I’m barely able to absorb what is taking place around me, leaving me to feel my way through a day’s events. Or maybe things are moving so fast right now that my vision is blurred a little.
Or maybe I’m concentrating on all the wrong narratives….S and I watched Lost in Translation (IMDB) last night, and we both really liked it. The film focuses on Bob (Bill Murray), a washed up actor filming commercials in Japan, and Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson), a recent philosophy graduate traveling in Japan with her photographer husband. Because they are both facing some uncertainties about their direction in lfe, the two of them develop an interesting friendship. In ways, it really captures this sense of boredom and frustration, the feeling of not knowing where your story is going to go. I’m still sorting through the film, and I may be too scattered to write a full blown entry about it, but it’s definitely well worth seeing.