Saturday, June 15, 2013

straight from the heart

"The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God."(page 1078)

"Valjean started by making a mistake."(page 1078)

" 'Because things do not always please us,' said Valjean, 'that is no reason for reproaching God.' "(page 1197)

So, I wrote this last night after spending something like three hours reading the last couple hundred pages of les mis. And I wasn't sure if I should post it, because it sounds a little crazy and disjointed and weird, but this is what was going through my head, honestly, when I was done...and I felt like being real. I didn't even go back and edit little things, as badly as I wanted to. (like adding Eponine's name to the list of characters that I don't want to leave, and taking out the part where I say I feel "wiser" and all those other little details that tend to bother me)
So. It's quite long and you don't have to read all of it, but this is literally what the inside of my head looked like when I finished Hugo's novel.
(by the way, it's excellent. It's a special, wonderful book, and I'm not going to say any more than that. But you should read it.)

I've just finished Les Mis, not five minutes ago.

And part of me wants to put the book down and stay seated in my reading chair, staring at nothing and not thinking about the book, but just feeling the weight of it in my hands...and in my heart. I don't want to talk to anyone because then I would have to stop not-thinking, and I can't do that. That's rather confusing, isn't it? I just...when you spend so much time on something, or with someone, you can't just snap the book shut and move on with your life. There has to be some kind of intermission, some barrier between the book, the 1200 pages of change and thoughtfulness and truth, and my real life.
Because Jean Valjean...and Marius...and Javert...Gavroche, and Cosette, and Enjolras. I'm not ready to leave them behind, and I so badly wanted them to be happy. I wanted everyone to win and smile and go off into the sunset with happy endings spread out before them.
Of course it doesn't work like that, but I wish it did.

Do you suppose I would have been able to move on more quickly if they all had a happy ending? Do you suppose it's better that I don't? I is it supposed to change you if you leave it behind without a second glance?

And whether this change is real or imagined...I've spent hours on this book and I can feel all the thousand pages sitting heavy on my heart, and that counts for something. If nothing else, I've taken a week out of my life to skip through the streets of France, amid desolation and poverty...and beauty and love. And death, and life, and change.

And I'm not ready to move on, and I don't want to. It's funny...this always happens when I read a good book, or watch an excellent movie. I just have to sit there with my mouth shut and not talk to anyone. I've never tried writing before, but it feels good. Sort of like putting lotion on dry skin.

I remember after watching Captain America with my cousin, I felt like this. And I was visiting relatives and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and stare into space and think about it without really thinking about it. Just sort of sit quietly with the memory of the movie in my head...not thinking about it, just letting it be there without paying any particular attention to it. Getting used to the new ideas, maybe. And Caleb wanted to do something, and I just couldn't. And he wanted to talk about it, and I didn't feel right doing that, either. And he didn't understand why I wanted to just sit...not reading, or writing, or talking, or anything. So I didn't. I got up and went out and visited family and tried to think about the movie while doing other things, and after a few minutes I felt normal and the movie slipped from my mind.

But now, since I finished the book maybe ten minutes ago I literally haven't opened my mouth and I haven't communicated with anyone and life is moving on around me but I feel stationary. Like I need to be still and just take a few minutes to breathe and recuperate and let Jean Valjean and the rest of les mis. become a part of my memory without thinking about it. Just getting used to the fact that I'm that many pages richer, that many characters more thoughtful and more wise. Or something. I don't know. It's just a strange feeling, having these new people and experiences added into...what?

I'm doing a horrible job explaining this. It's really not supposed to be an explanation. Just random thoughts from my head to my fingers and onto the page, without thinking about les mis. but having it sit beside me and just...getting used to the new information in my head.

Depending on how insane this looks in the morning I'll probably cut a lot of this. Maybe I won't post it at all, if it doesn't make any sense. And then again, maybe I will. Because I'm friends with a lot of readers, and maybe some of them will know how I feel. How I don't want to talk about it, but I want someone to understand les mis. and to understand me, and to just know that this book is impacting me and to agree, because it impacted them too.

it doesn't have to be les mis. Has any book ever affected you like this? Or a movie? Just made you want to sit and be still, and drink it in? (for someone like me...who talks through everything, needing to be quiet is a rare occurrence. But I need to be quiet right now.)

I'm starting to feel better. The weight in my chest is going away; by the time I wake up tomorrow everything will be normal and I'll return les Mis. to Tiana and say "yes, I loved it. Jean Valjean was my favourite and Marius was a close second, except at that one part-" and she'll say "oh, I know. I thought the same thing" and it'll go back on her bookshelf and we'll both forget about it.

Maybe. But what if we don't? What if we didn't talk about it, but just looked at the book and knew that it had changed us? And what if, for once in my life, I didn't try to talk about it, but just said "this is a special, wonderful book," and she agreed? What if staying silent is actually a better way of understanding than talking?

What if I'm making all of this up and I'm just some weird 16-year-old who thinks too much and should learn to put books back on the shelf without a second thought? Should I be that girl? Do I want to?

I should probably stop talking now. I don't even know if anyone will read this far. I probably wouldn't.

I think I'm done. I just don't have anything to say anymore. I'm going to close blogger and shut the computer down and read this in the morning, and maybe post it. Maybe not.

I guess we'll see, won't we?

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering if your fellow Les Mis reader should say something. Except I'm not as fast or dedicated a reader as you are so maybe I shouldn't. But yes, I do understand that feeling. And you're making me want to pick up the book again.


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