I believe that an introduction is appropriate for a first post? Well, then.
I am that irritating person who cannot shut up in the movie theater. I can’t help it. I feel a need to actively engage with what I’m watching. My commentaries are never so much of the “That actor is hot” variety as they are “Why don’t they ride the eagles all the way to Mount Doom?” and “If they actually landed in the water after falling from that height, their bodies would be crushed in an impact similar to that of being hit by a school bus.” It turns out that not many people are willing to go to the movies with me.
Nevertheless, I am told that these helpful observations are commonly considered “snarky,” which Urban Dictionary informs me is a slurring of the words “snide remark,” and which Lewis Carroll describes as a unimaginable creature worthy of being hunted. (As a snarker, then, I feel compelled to imagine things in the lazy author’s stead, and make sarcastic commentary in the process.)
I am also that irritating person who gets excited about school. You know that person. The one who showed up 15 minutes early and never skipped a class in college, not because of guilty “My parents are paying for it so I have to make an attempt” feelings, but because I actually wanted to learn something. There are still times I wish that “perpetual student” was a job title that paid me money, instead of the other way around (though I will admit that I don’t miss the group projects or the class presentations). Instead of living out that dream, I got a job at a library, which is close enough.
I tend to get a little too excited about things. I can recall a moment when I was writing an essay on the fact that Miss Havisham got so powerful that the only person who could stop her was her creator (Nice cop-out with the fire, Mr. Dickens), and I thought to myself “I totally understand this essay-writing thing now. This is actually kind of fun.” I repeated this sentiment out loud to a friend and she concluded that I was probably crazy. As I have yet to find many other people who feel the same excitement about writing 10-page essays, I must assume she’s on to something.
I originally majored in English. I never thought an English degree would help me get rich (it hasn’t, and I imagine it probably never will), but that doesn’t matter. I did it because I wanted to read stories. I could not imagine a better deal than majoring in English. Who else gets a degree in picking apart reality (history, anthropology, art, culture, truth) by looking at it in the mirror of great literary fiction? Who else goes to see The Hunger Games after reading the book and spends several hours afterwards thinking about perspective (In the book, we are Katniss – seeing her own mind, sympathizing with her struggle. At the movies, we are the Capital – spectators who watch the blood sport for entertainment, rooting for our favorites) and trying to find every parallel between ancient Rome and Panem we can think of? (Fun fact: In Latin, the phrase “Panem et circenses” refers to the “bread and circuses” that went with the superficial entertainment common in the Roman Empire shortly before its decline. Perhaps a metaphorical warning for America’s future, especially with regards to today’s ‘Reality TV’ entertainment industry? An English major might suspect this is the author’s intent. An English major might also write an entire paper on bread.)
I’m not going to pretend I make it a habit to sip tea and ponder novels of merit, deriving metaphors from author-driven commentary on the times in which they lived, all whilst sitting in my ethereal reading nook that opens out into an Edwardian garden. I don’t. I don’t even have a reading nook. I usually come home from work, slump into my computer chair, and watch repeats of Glee or waste hours on the internet snorting at memes. But I also try to solve the ending of Sherlock season 2 while impatiently waiting for season 3. I go to the movies and ask my family and friends why Gandalf honestly doesn’t use flying eagles to transport his vertically challenged friends to and from various mountains when they are on a time-sensitive schedule. (The answer is, of course, that it would be a very short book if he did, and would do a pretty poor job of captivating generations of audiences. But I like to read things from a Watsonian perspective before I consider the Doylist motives.) I also voluntarily read Tess of the d’Urbervilles on my lunch break and try not to get overly attached to characters because I know Thomas Hardy is probably going to kill them off anyway (because that’s what he does).
I get excited about these things. I get excited about Shakespeare. I don’t like to sound pretentious, but I get really excited about Shakespeare. Shakespeare is not some golden god (because, honestly, how many times can we play out the “mistaking one twin for another” scenario and still pretend it’s original?), but he is amazingly human, so when he gets it wrong, it plays out like a hilarious B-movie (*cough* Titus Andronicus), but when he gets it right, he manages mass appeal while still striking the bell of timeless truth, and yes, I am talking about Hamlet. (Unnecessary tangent: The best enactment of Hamlet I ever saw was in Ridgecrest, of all places. If you have ever been to Ridgecrest, California, you will not have to try hard to imagine the disbelief in my voice as I say this. But seriously, I like a good sarcastic hero who snaps his intellect around so strategically that no one quite gets how terrified he is underneath, and this actor played it well. FYI, Hamlet’s kind of my idol.) But back to the point, I get excited when I get involved in these stories. Sometimes I get so involved that I start talking at the characters. (Seriously, Hamlet, I know the guy’s praying, but just get on with it.)
There is, of course, no right way to read a novel, or watch a movie, or feel about something. Thirty people can read a book and have 30 different ideas of what it was about. Ultimately, it doesn’t even matter what the author intended – all that matters is how the story makes you feel. I am by no means a literary scholar. In fact, I don’t have any authority on these matters; I just want to share my thoughts while summarizing some of the stories I read. My ultimate goal is to get someone else to laugh and maybe even pick up a book, because that makes my day way more awesome.
My snark is a labor of love (which probably negates the actual meaning of the word snark). It’s not meant to be mean-spirited, but sometimes it might sound that way due to the lack of vocal tone in my text and due to the fact that I am a socially inept individual. I play devil’s advocate quite frequently, and sometimes it’s hard to tell when I’m joking. I may insult your favorite author, character, or scene. I’m sorry if I do – if I had my way, we’d all be laughing. As it is, I have a dry sense of humor and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. (I, for one, don’t even like tea.) I also go off on parenthetical tangents that probably grate on the nerves, but that’s just how I ramble. I appreciate constructive criticism, but I do hope you’ll be gentle with me. I am still learning how humans work.
I imagine that half my audience has not made it this far in reading my post. Half of the remainder are probably indifferent, but think they may as well finish what they’ve started. Another quarter has found something offensive (What do you mean, Hunger Games might be a metaphor for American decline?!). A few more may now be offended at the thought that I might be making fun of people who are easily offended. (Sorry, guys!) A few, I hope, have at least smiled. If you think you might like to stick around, I hope you enjoy my snarky literary summaries.
And by all means, please join in with your own comments and recommendations!