I’ve recently decided to allow myself to be enthusiastic about the things I’m enthusiastic about. I’ve gone back to my favourite things: reading and listening to music. I’ve read so many good books recently. Everything I’ve read has been brilliant, and it’s made me happy.
If you’re enthusiastic about something, BE enthusiastic about it, dammit. Don’t try to be ‘cool’ about it. If you’ve got a raging hard on for a particular book, then don’t try to hide it. Find people you can share it with. That’s what the internet is for.
Holy shit, I did not think that metaphor through properly. DO NOT GET YOUR DICK OUT ON THE INTERNET, GUYS.
I suppose this is really a long-winded way of saying that I’ve been re-reading children’s books but you’re not allowed to judge me because I said so. His Dark Materials, if you’re interested.
Re-reading the books was really interesting to me. It’s probably the first time I’ve read them since I was maybe 13, and it’s fascinating to revisit them. Not because what I get from them has changed drastically, because it hasn’t, but because I can see how much they shaped who I actually am. They also say things about my childhood that I don’t think I really knew at the time. I mean, I was reading a series in which one of the main goals is to wage war on and kill God. I didn’t even think this was weird. I literally didn’t think about it one way or the other. It wasn’t even an issue.
I absolutely love how I was brought up in regard to religion. It was never an issue. I knew we weren’t practising Christians, but I knew literally nothing else. I knew a little about scripture, I knew about the values and beliefs held by Christians. Hell, I approved of them – still do, when they’re actually held. I’m all for good feeling and good will between ALL people. My questions about death were answered from a “Christian’s believe that…” point of view. I was never pressured into believing one thing or another – it literally wasn’t mentioned at all.
I never thought about my own atheism until I was taught, in RE, many years later, the terms Theist, Atheist, and Agnostic. That was literally the first I’d ever had to choose. Now, I self-identify as an Atheist, but I’m more likely to say ‘Agnostic’ when asked. Simply because I don’t want to be associated with some of the absolute dirt-bags who identify as such. I don’t want to hate someone because of their belief. Atheists who hate on Theists are just as abhorrent to me as Theists who villainise Atheists.
I didn’t know until I was maybe 18 that my Dad hates religion – due to a cult-like group who had nearly convinced my Grandma to give up her home and her family many years before I was born. The fact that he has such strong feelings about it but was still able to absolutely allow me to come to my own conclusions is beautiful to me. I hope that, should I ever raise a child, I can do half as good a job as he and my mother managed with me.
I may have gone off topic here. I feel I was talking about enthusiasm. I read a lot of books. I read contemporary literature, I read classics. I also read unapologetic genre novels. Sci-Fi, Fantasty, Crime. Some of the best books I have ever read have been genre work. NEVER let someone shame you into thinking a book is less serious or less good because it has, I don’t know, Constable Space Dragon the fourth investigating the murder of an elf on board a space shuttle.
Sure, genre work can attract some of the strangest, most appalling writers available, but it can also be used to frame very, very deep thoughts. I’ve written about Tana French before. Some of my very, very favourite novels and yet, because they’re crime fiction, they’ll never get the same kind of recognition as ‘serious’ literature. Who decides a novel is ‘serious’, anyway? I love some serious novels, but they always seem to be about death, or depression, or other such cheerless, big subjects. Why can’t we have some wonder, too? I like wonder. Okay, so I’ve chosen the worst possible example in Tana French – her novels make me want to go out and hug a kitten, but whatever. We all know what I mean.
Basically, you know what you like. Allow yourself to like it FULLY. If you like something that has, dare I say it, a ‘fandom’? Fuck it. Have a look at it some time. Enthusiasm is contagious, and having your views validated by hundreds of strangers is just nice. It just is.
Go and look at http://markreads.net/reviews/ if you don’t believe me. The guy basically reads books/watches tv that basically EVERYONE else in the entire world but him has experienced. He then gets unapologetically excited about them forever. So it’s kind of a way of experiencing something for the first time again via proxy, along with an unbridled and infectious enthusiasm, all melded together with a view and a life story that is as interesting as it can be depressing. Basically, if something links to his life or his ideas, he will explain it, and talk about it. Very well, and very candidly, with some very good ideas.