The development of the literary palate


At the grand old age of 20, Jamie Pierson finds that all the tumblers on the combination lock of literature are falling into place:

As I get older, Iím finding that the books, and music as well, that left a foreign and confused taste in my mouth, that gave me the idea that most ďliteratureĒ was not all it was cracked up to be, are finally making sense. Itís like a code has been cracked, vision clearing, as muddied words and sounds that I know must hold meaning, gradually and unexpectedly do. Itís a most ďdeliciousĒ (as my Bamma would say) feeling of finally being admitted to a club. Is it just because Iím older now? Or did I pass through a magic portal somewhere? Did something I do or endure make the scales drop from my eyes?

Partly it's age -- just as it takes time for your taste buds to develop an appreciation for strong and spicy and subtle flavors, it takes time before your intellectual taste buds are ready for stronger stuff. (With an eight-year-old and a four-year-old around the house, we have frequent reminders that what we grown-ups find delicious is too spicy or "smells bad.")

Partly it's experience. You read something at 12 and think, "How could he be so stupid?" You read the same thing again at 42 and think, "Oh, Lord, I remember being that stupid."

Unfortunately, you can have experiences by 20 that allow you to understand the darker side of human nature, as presented in a biopic of Charles Bukowski:

I turned my face away from the screen. Tears, a sob, fought to come out. I couldnít see that, couldnít take it. I think I gasped when he kicked her, said ďnoĒ horrifiedly aloud. Whenever I see fighting like that, raised voices and names called, a face with that look that tells you all sense has left its owner and all there is is hate behind it, whether itís real life or just a movie, oh god, Iím back there. Back in that bedroom, that apartment, those hissing, crushing words. This is why I donít see a lot of movies, like, story movies. And why I donít see them in theaters. At home, I can turn it off, walk away, distract myself until that part is over. But there, in that dark and full theater, I was pinned in those memories until the clip was over.

Sounds like she has a story to tell, when she's ready, and when she does it'll help someone else connect with a part of his own past, just as seeing this film helped her connect with a part of hers.

It's like Paul said to the Corinthians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 20, 2005 1:50 AM.

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