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Saturday, December 19th, 2009
Long ago a friend of mine was discussing Charles Bronson. I have forgotten anything said, but he seemed to really like him as an actor. One of his movies came on and I remember thinking, "I don't get it." I didn't dislike him. I just didn't get him.
Later I found that Bronson was listed in the Myers Briggs literature as being of my "Enigma" type. Which basically means, the type you don't understand. Not your opposite. This is very different from a clash. I sometimes run into this reaction. I'll be in a crowd of people, and realize that some of them just don't compute for me. And I get the sense that I don't compute for them, either. And we're okay with it. (Well, my enigma is, like me an Introverted Perceiver. I just don't understand that with Sensing as primary.)
The other enigmas listed that I'm familiar with are: Tom Cruise. James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Keith Richards, Charlie Yeager, Frank Zappa. Pretty accurate. The first movie I ever saw Tom Cruise in, Taps, had him playing someone I really did NOT understand. James Dean is the closest to an exception here. He doesn't leave me puzzled.
I'm glad John Wayne is not on that list.
Funny thing is, at some point, most of the actors started to make sense. I didn't get Bronson until I rented a DVD with the first episodes of Gunsmoke. There he was, young, and he was arresting. Whether or not I understood the character, I could see why people wanted to watch the actor play him.
8:14 am Pacific Standard Time
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
9:21 am Pacific Standard Time
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
I'm into the third of the Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian. This has been interesting getting a sense of what makes his books work. Very soon after reading the first one, I saw that the friendship between Lucky Jack Aubrey and his surgeon Stephen Maturin was a big draw. That had featured prominently in the movie. They are like a bit like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, only in this case, Basil Rathbone would more likely play the doctor part than the other. Also as with Sherlock Holmes stories, general atmosphere and personality are a much greater factor in the enjoyment than plot. I am not a huge mystery fan, but I have enjoyed some, for example Caleb Carr's The Alienist, for their plots. I was relieved to read that O'Brian himself admitted to not being very interested in plot. Now I cannot imagine writing in this fashion myself. But I am very glad that O'Brian did, anyway. I just have to figure out how to adjust my expectations accordingly.
There is also some "novel of manners" element to the book. I am alternately hot or cold to this. In some cases this reveals interesting differences between the culture of that time and ours, differences that do appeal to me to read about. In others, it just looks like characters calculating in a way that I have little interest in reading about. It is funny to find a writer, though, whose interests are alternately so close to and then so far from my own. I can be very bored by the book for a spell, get to having low expectations, and then suddenly be swept into the greatest enjoyment. Only unlime many books where this has happened, it is not generally a picking up of action or a revelation that does it, but a conversation.
I checked out a couple of books related to the series. One was on the making of the movie Master and Commander. Wonderful. I am very jealous of those who went to the school to find out how to man an early 19th century ship. I have no idea how I would do at such a task, but it would be interesting to find out.
Other sea novels I have enjoyed include the first 300 pages of Moby Dick and The Mutiny on the Bounty. I bogged down after 300 pages of Moby Dick in high school and switched books for a paper. I tried the book again a few years ago and found it got boring at about the same point as I remembered, and didn't pick up much. There were a few good sections, but not many. Mutiny on the Bounty I read in junior high, after hearing my brother talk about the book at the dinner table. Grandma Ritchie had read it serialized in the Saturday Evening Post years before, and still seemed to feel strongly about how terrible it was that the men had to leave their wives behind. Any book that worked that strongly over half a century had to be worth looking into. I was not disappointed. Then there is The Odyssey, probably my favorite thing I have ever read. Oh, great stuff.
11:36 am Pacific Standard Time