Wednesday, October 15, 2003

It's been a while since I updated, and I reckon it's time. I have been cast as the Pirate King in the Savoyards' production of Pirates of Penzance, which is ever so much fun. Pirates is the highlight of my week, even if Archimedes and Phoebe aren't in it this time around. I love singing with this cast - I love that it isn't just this cast, it's my cast. I am part of a company again, a company with good points and weak points and foibles and people to get to know. I love doing stage work again, singing songs where I'm encouraged to act - and oh, what a fun part this is! How wonderful it is to be able to roar at the top of my lungs one moment, and crack a joke in the middle of the song the next! And of course I love singing this music, because the numbers are expressive and the lyrics are clever and witty. And also it's no mean feat to take these inverted words and fun melodies and shape them in a way that they mean something to the audience. Succeed or fail, it's a great challenge, and lots of fun.

I just got back from my short story class, which is thankfully getting less shallow. One thing I will say for that class, though: reading Chekhov and Joyce has actually given me a greater appreciation for modern fiction, and short stories in general. It is nice to see that there are authors who had the guts to feel something other than despair and hopelessness at the state of the world - authors who could see where the world was going and write, as it were, "Hell no, we won't go!"

Of course this has also given me a greater appreciation for the fiction that I actually read. I admire the aforementioned authors for protesting, but they didn't actually offer any sort of suggestion as to where we should go - in fact, if my professor is to be believed (and on this point I think he is) they didn't think it was the writer's business to answer that question. As for me, I'm aware that the world is full of terrible things and that people are declining and paralyzed and oppressed and all that other hellish nonsense. I don't need James Joyce to tell me that.

This is why I prefer other kinds of fiction. It is not escapism, not in the dictionary sense of "The tendency to seek, or the practice of seeking, distraction from what normally has to be endured" (thank you, OED). What I am looking for is encouragement, the "trumpet's martial sound," as the policemen in Pirates put it. I read Honor Harrington and Tortall because they offer visions of character: not just of men and women who know that there is something better, but who have some idea of what that something is, and are determined to live it, come what may. It is not distraction that I seek, but inspiration: something to rouse my fighting spirit. Despair can wait. There's a war on.

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