Monday, May 19, 2008

Meme from Noddy

Noddy over at Welcome to Toy Town tagged me for a thought provoking meme. It's about books.

"Books are scarce in the world. They are illegal in some provinces. They are not easily replaced, if not impossible to replace if lost in many if not most circumstances. If you can replace a book or buy one, it is usually through the black market at astronomical costs that you cannot afford. Yet you have been able to maintain one of the best collections in the world. If your entire library was about to burn up and you could only have one* book to take with you other than the Bible, what would that be and why?"

Simple Rules:
Answer the question.

Offer one quote that resonates with you (I broke that rule).

Tag five people whose response is of genuine interest to you and inform him or her that they have been tagged.

*and it cannot be an entire series of something, that’s cheating.

The first book (other than the Bible) that popped into my head was F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

I have loved this book since I was in high school. Back then, I loved the imagery provided by it. I could imagine the sites, smells, and sounds. I wanted to be a flapper! But then I studied literature and I ended up teaching the book for a few years. That's when the book provided meaning beyond the brain bubble-gum.

The character of Jay Gatsby makes me sad. He refuses to be real with himself about his past. He's convinced that if he gets enough money and name recognition, he'll win back the girl of his dreams from his early adult years, Daisy. She's moved on and married, has a child. Jay moves across a bay from her, and that bay might as well be an ocean.

He woos her, they have an affair, but he never gets her back. Why? You can't relive or recreate the past. In his trying to do so, he was reliving one side of the relationship, his own--with his own memories, possibly with some delusions of just how "great" that love was.
Ever the dreamer, Gatsby dies convinced Daisy will call and that she'll be his.

There are other parts to be analyzed: the existence or non-existence of the American Dream, the values of pre-WWI shown through the narrator Nick and his Mid-Western upbringing versus the newly changing values seen in NY via Gatsby, Daisy, and her husband, Tom. For a relatively small book, there is so much to think about and to read.

Here are some quotations that have always jumped out to me when I read
The Great Gatsby as an adult:

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

This is from the end of the book. We keep trying to relive old glory or to reclaim the past, but it is like being in a boat going against the current...impossibly tough and tiring. I could try to relive my spandex wearing, spiked hair days--running around drunk all of the time, having a good time. However, I'd be very empty (besides looking quite scary).

"I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool... You see, I think everything's terrible anyhow... And I know. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything."

This is the definition of jaded and lost. This quotation is stated by Daisy. She is speaking about her little girl, Pammy. In choosing her life of "old money" with the character of Tom, Daisy has had to play the fool. She sees a use in it, but knows its emptiness, too. It is probably said with some regret, too. She dumped Gatsby and married Tom for stability and money.

"There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams--not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion."

Simply put, Gatsby is chasing after a dream, that even if it came true, it wouldn't live up to what he has recreated in his mind. It has become fiction.

"He wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was."

How can you not relate to this guy? Sometimes, when I read this, my heart just breaks. He essentially changes his entire life, even to the point of utter corruption, just to win back Daisy. He dies and she goes on being the beautiful little fool.

"Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"

You can pick up where you left off with people and just move forward, even with a slightly different perspective; however, you cannot recreate the past.

That's blind hope in another person, thinking that they are able to do the impossible.

You thought I forgot to tag people, eh? Not a chance! I tag Wyatt, Deathlok, Captain America, USA Admiral, and Rogue.


USA_Admiral said...

This is a tough one. I will get to working on it.

RT said...

It took me a few days (more like a week). Take your time.

zippychik said...

Yes, I love that book,too. I've also been quite taken with the opening of the film "The Great Gatsby" where Sam Waterston reads the opening lines of the novel over scenes of the Long Island shoreline. Too bad the film goes down hill after that.

RT said...

The opening is cool.

My favorite part of the movie? "Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. . .SLAP!" Myrtle annoyed me and I was glad she got smacked.

Mia Farrow has got to be the worst actress, too.

Ugh. Redford looks hot, though.