Obsessing

When it comes to liking something, I have a tendency to go a bit off the deep end. I’ve been known to re-read books for as many as 10 times (Lord of the Rings!), and whenever a piece of music leaves an imprint on my soul, I just need listen to it over and over and over again, to the great annoyance of my environment, no doubt. To me, it’s like whenever I find a thing I love, I latch onto it and then I kind of take it with me wherever I go, whatever I’m doing.

I grew up an only child, and I probably spent more time than the average kid in my own headspace, which was not a lonely place anymore after I learned how to read. I’ve been escaping from reality that way for as long as I can remember, and if that makes me an addict, hello world, my name’s Johanna and I’m addicted to ­– well, I guess, emotion is what it really comes down to.

I have neither time nor inclination to enumerate everything I’ve been obsessed with over the decades. But a few things come to mind for which (addict or no addict), I cannot help but feel particularly grateful, for they helped me or made me happy in challenging times.

In terms of music, oh my, there’s a lot. Bach’s organ toccata and fugue in d minor. Turning up the volume when nobody was home and letting it hit me is a distinct memory.

After having seen Amadeus in the early Eighties, starring wonderful Tom Hulce, Mozart’s unfinished Requiem was a perfect soundtrack for coping with grieving for my Dad who passed away a year or two before.

It was a bit later that I discovered one of my favorite albums of all times, The Velvet Underground’s banana album. It was already almost 20 years old then, and to say I was cursing the cruelty of late birth would be a vast understatement. Poor Nico was already dead by then.

I loved many of the bands of the Eighties and early Nineties, and was faithfully following some of them when in high school (as I feel necessary to point out in this digital day and age, following in a very literal sense, as in driving a car down to other towns to see several shows of a particular band’s over the course of one tour). Oddly enough, my obsessing never went as far as my becoming a groupie. When any of the musicians would notice I kept showing up at the concerts and tried to put the moves on me, I was appalled. What the hell?! From today’s perspective it doesn’t seem that unreasonable for a guy to think that if a girl is coming to see all of your shows wearing your band t-shirt, she’d probably be interested, but at the time I didn’t really see their point and told them to fuck off ;-).

Anyway, to me, it was never about meeting these people, or having sex with them to prove what ever it is that makes fans do that kind of thing. Listening to the albums and seeing the shows was more than enough for me, and again, everything happened mostly in my own head. Also, those guys in their twenties were, um, old people to me, so not even registered on my radar. Later on, my first two boyfriends were in bands, though, whatever that has to do with anything.

In terms of movie actor crushes, I’m probably more a fandom person than anything else, meaning that it’s the character they play I care about, mostly. (Good thing for everyone, too, for I won’t go and stalk anybody, like, ever. I imagine that aspect of being such a public figure, the endless autographing and being asked the same questions over and over again every stop of the promo rally must get so old!) But is obsessing over the characters really any better than stalking people’s social media and real life? I’ve read my fair share of fan fiction and Live Journal entries. There’s some seriously good writing going on there (and, as everywhere, a whole lot of bad). I have to say I find it comforting to find fellow obsessers to whom discussing at great length a character’s behavior on a show is a completely reasonable thing to do. One of the most talented (IMHO) writers of the Queer as Folk fandom was doing this brilliant episode by episode analysis for the first two seasons. For whatever reason she stopped there, to my chagrin, for I could have gone on reading forever. She had a few cool stories to tell, and she had so much insight on writing for a TV show; she was discussing character development, story arcs, meta and screenwriting on such a profound level that I learned a lot about the whole creative process that goes into making a TV character who they are. Very interesting stuff (to me, anyway).

TV shows are a great place for obsessive fans, I think. Everybody is saying how we live in the great age of TV shows that try to tell epic tales, show in-depth character portrayal and are really pushing this formerly sneered at format to an art form. When Breaking Bad wrapped 5 years ago, as you may remember, Sir Anthony Hopkins actually sat his highly esteemed butt down to write Bryan Cranston/Walter White the sweetest fan letter any actor could ever wish to receive.

So, if you’re like me, and see an identification platform in a TV show character, you’re probably going to feel stranded when the show tanks, or ends, unless you find a kind (and in my case, talented, for I can’t really accept bad syntax and lame storytelling) soul in the fandom willing to tell you how things went with your beloved characters afterwards. To me, that has been the methadone I need until I stumble across my next obsession 😉 a few times.

At the moment, I’m living in the enchanted realm of Call Me By Your Name, which is a sublimely written stream of consciousness told from the perspective of a 17-year old boy, who is testing out the boundaries of his sexuality and opening his heart to another person for the first time, with a limitless generosity not all of us ever get to experience in our lives. The novel is vexing to read at times in its intensity, but it sure makes a brilliant case for obsessing (thereby validating my own perspective, so I guess, thank you, André Aciman!). The movie is a bit easier to stomach than the book, and obviously equally touching and beautiful. By now the two have sort of melded in my head, and never will the protagonists wear anybody else’s features than the two extraordinary leading actors’, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, who have given the world a great gift by lending themselves to this love story. Also, the movie pays greater attention to the compassionate and wise monologue young Elio’s father gives at the end of the movie – it was Michael Stuhlbarg who made the lines I had read but not really understood in the book before really resonate with me. I feel every parent in the world should be made to watch before they’re even allowed to bring up children of their own.

So that was on my mind this fine Friday. What about you? Who and what are you obsessed with? Can you relate to that kind of thing at all, or do you think I’m a bit cuckoo? Don’t worry, I won’t be offended. I know I’m not alone ;-).

I’m rushing back out today with a little something my fellow crafts aficionado N. made for me last week:

It’s a sleeve for my e-reader, which was until now mostly carried in one of my daughter’s old knit hats. What a sweet gift, thank you so much N.!

I have little time for crafts right now, but plan to finish the Dotty Blanket once I’ve submitted my current book manuscript next week, insh’Allah.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy your own private obsessions, whatever they may be :-).

 

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