Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What to read...

I didn't really know I was weird growing up.  I wanted to be either the witch or the prince in fairy tales.  I read The Hobbit when it arrived and I remember Franny Cohen showing me notes she'd written in runes.  I never got that far. I wanted to escape in barrels, too. I read adventure stories --The Three Musketeers, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood.  I don't know when I discovered Ursula Le Guin, but I immersed myself in her stories for a while.  That was when I knew what I was looking for, when I had discovered "what to read". 

The Lathe of Heaven was my confirmation that it was science fiction writers who would help me find the answers to what I was looking for.  I wanted to know more about magic and how to live in the world as a magician.  I had chosen that word to describe a collection of ideas and personal events that I had tried to define since I was a teen.  I had decided that if I had been born in another place or another time, I would have been put to work as some kind of seer.  I couldn't see anyting like that in the world we live in now.  I figured, and rightly, that those skills--the ones that would have been found probably in one or two people in a tribe--had been dispersed throughout the population.  Doctors, nurses, psychologists, ministers, sociologists... all of these and more would have been called shaman, healer, witch, seer.

So, what did I learn in The Lathe of Heaven that gave me a sense of anchoring in the modern world?  The main character, George Orr has "effective" dreams. His dreams change reality.  To keep this from happening, he self-medicates.  This was the first time I saw a glimmer of myself outside of my own head.  I didn't change reality, but my dreams were effective in other ways.

A critical piece of the novel was how Orr found help from inside his chaos.  The chaos came from his ability to remember both the pre- and post-dream worlds.  How do you learn to manage something this powerful and destructive?  With a little help from friends.  And where does one find such helpful friends?  It was the Beatles song itself that helped.  We call it an earworm now, that annoying and persistent presence of some snatch of song we pretend not to like.

From that little bit, I learned to pay attention to what I had learned as a kid was the "still, small voice".  Of course that was before boom boxes and iPods and such.  Heck, that was before rock and roll!

So, this rattling on is apropos what?   What do you read when you need to find your way along the edges of the world?  What do you read when you want to learn how to be different?  Who tells you stories that keep you company on dark soul nights? 

I was inspired to confess my own need for connection by a link to I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?.   

So, what do you read to relieve your sense of being the weird one in the room? Where does your own queerness find companionship?


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