Most of the time, a book made into a film does not fall from the grace of its original literary merit and retains its sovereignty as a textual master over the cinematic adaptation. At least, that’s what I think. It’s really a win-win situation in which both a book and a novel have their own charms with the appropriate bells and whistles. Alas, that’s not the case of Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Not an Iota. The book betrayed my anticipation of passing over to the minds of the characters for empathy and disappointed me with its bleak and dreary narrative. It’s like meeting your hero and ending up with a cold, contemptuous shoulder that cut off the thinnest and the highest note of the mind’s strings.
The textual version of the Boy and the Vampire named Oskar and Eli, respectively, were hardly pathetic, not to mention likable, roaming the dark alleys of Scandinavian Dystopia plastered with pornography in all sorts of perversion. IT’s there, it’s here, it’s all over everywhere on the pages like pits pull of filth. The matter-of-fact accounts of child molestation defenestrated my mental equilibrium into catatonia, and I recoiled in diabolic horror in the course of wading through the chapters so as just to get them over with in a heartbeat. Any such disgrace of the subject matter could have been reconciled with a felicity of expressions and literary craftsmanship that would have at least rendered it bearable to read and excusable to merit its genre. Yet, the book continued to go against the grain to grant my wish for even teeny tiny weeny bit of pleasure of reading it – to the end. It all seemed to me that the catastrophe was due to the English translation of the original Swedish version of the book by an anonymous translator trying either too hard or too little to articulate the sentiments that could only be rendered accessible in the author’s mother tongue. The result was an ineffective simulation of a style of writing supposedly associated with Stephen King.
Maybe it’s just me having a difficulty in appreciating the mind of the Swedish writer whom Stephen King generously hailed as one of the top writers of the horror fiction genre. Maybe my adultescent anticipation for the book was precipitately induced by the visual sensation from its film version, which is far better than its textual master in terms of the portrayal of the characters and the interpretation of their minds, capturing the subdued but powerful moments of revelation intelligently played out by Director Matt Reeves, who seems to understand the gist of the book as though it were written by him. Be that as it may, the book was not meant for someone whose heartstrings were prone to be broken if they were to be pulled out perforce. For the book still rings hollow in the valley of bleakness and shrieks in the alley of darkness and nothing more.
There was nothing mattered except the oracle of the witch at the moment. Iris was confused and terrified in the amalgamation of the sacred and the profane. It was part of a realization of her premonition and part a prescription of her destiny if there was such thing as predestination. The heavenly revelation thus transpired: she was born with powers ascribed to the lineage of the ancient priestess; her Tread of Life was so thin that it was likely to be cut off by mortal dangers, such as attending funerals where ghosts and ghouls were always roaming around to recruit new ones; and she would not have suitors because of the invisible aura surrounding her to protect her from impurity of Eros or caprice of Aphrodite or anything even remotely like it. Reminding all of this, regurgitating the words of the witch while working toward the coffee shop around the corner, Iris’s mind was so laden with the unbearable prophecy and irreversible revelation that she then knew how Atlas felt when he was sentenced to carry the Earth on his shoulders as celestial punishment.
The coffee shop was large and spacious with a few customers scattered around doing what they deemed appropriate to while away their time. Some were talking on their cellphones; some on their laptops, and others confabulating about trifle things. With her freshly brewed cappuccino, Iris took her seat by the window where a man in a casual attire who looked to be in the early fifties with headphones and a laptop was sitting. Usually, Iris would not sit near a strange man because of her shyness of a member of the opposite sex. Yet, today she was feeling strangely comfortable sitting near him. Yes, Him, that is. Not Any Man, and This Man Only. Like a somnambulist in her nightly trance or a crewman of Odyssey mesmerized by Song of Ceres goddess, Iris was drawn to the seat close to the man. She looked at him discreetly: a crown of rich black hair was gloriously placed upon his shapely manly head. His slim chiseled face was lavishly adorned with large dark brown eyes deeply set between his high but slightly bumped Roman nose. His full lips were closed but looked as if nothing vulgar would come out therefrom. His posture was lean and tall and straight. To add another layer of Golden Laurel Wreath to this Grecian statue, there was something about this unknown beautiful stranger: intelligence magically interacting with the sweetness of the mind creating an aura of a Byronic mysterious artist, all in the artistry of nature so radiant and fatal. Iris was secretly absorbing all this intoxication of deadly charm and feeling guilty at the same time.
The pleasure of Guilt, as it were, became bigger, harder, and taller in Iris. The more she tried to concentrate on reading her unfinished book, the more violent his figure seemed to rebel in front of her very eyes, the eyes that were also as big and brown and beautiful as those of the homme fatal sitting three seats away from her. ‘Perish the thought!’ was the command of Iris to the Wild Horse of her Mind Chariot, but she knew it better than it was futile. My Dear Reader, who can decry Iris at the door of her infirm will, secret entertainment of her fancy, or illegitimacy of her fantasy when our faculty is rather instinctive than reasoning, rather physical than metaphysical? Irresistible, Irresponsible, Irreversible, irrespective of Reason, Iris loved the sensation that anesthetized her burdens of fate and willingly lost herself therein. It was a secret lovemaking, and she loved it.
“You can’t go home again,” declared Thomas Wolfe, who even wrote a book titled the selfsame slogan. That is, the place of memory however dearly held and fondly deemed exists only in the world of your reality, not in this world of existential truths and brutal subjective narratives of inflated egos and cosseted self-aggrandization. Once you’re out of it, you’re cut off from its association that binds you in the circumstances surrounding your whole being like a halo of a saint. For you’re one of them, you’re part of their culture, you’re in their clique. But what if you are sent back home after resurrection from death? Will your expectation meet with open arms or less than heartfelt welcome or even guns and knives?
Meet Kieren Walker, who is one of the undead, a Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer (“PDS”). To put it more blatantly lucid, he is an unlikely zombie who was treated and humanized to return to home and society. Kieren, a sensitive artistic 18-year-old boy who committed suicide, is “reanimated” thanks to the splendid medical advancement. But the blessing of a second life can be also the cursing of resurrection because Kieren the walking dead must confront the ills of social ostracization, which also include his own family’s changed sentiments toward him in their facades of niceness. It would have been better if he had not risen from death. What a rotten fate for a rotter, thinks Kieren until he meets his best dead friend Amy Dyer, a romantic bluestocking who happens to be a PDS. Despite her abundance of undying feminine sensitivity, Amy smothers her woes and disappointments with her vivaciousness and smiles which are her jewels of loveliness. She is in fact a Beatrice who guides Kieren in the course of his unfinished coming of age with encouragement and support and most importantly, friendship that seems matter even in life after death.
In the Flesh is a well-crafted television drama without shocking suspense or spectacular visual effects associated with Zombies. It is an intelligent drama that draws on social alienation of individuals shunned away for the singularities of their individualities. It spurs the detritus of existential dilemma of anyone who feels estranged from the social mooring made up of jetsam and flotsam of failed expectations, forced conformity, and false valuations of oneself setting against the backgrounds of Social Spencerism, which basically sets forth that might is right to be the fittest. However, this drama doesn’t turn out to be a grand social commentary that vehemently calls for equal rights for all. Rather, its strength lies in the subtle expressions of human feelings and emotions with elliptical scripts rendered authentic by a cast of characters, both imaginary and ordinary. The pathos of the characters is elegantly nuanced throughout the episodes, capturing all the conflicting emotions that one can imagine. For this reason, it is a drama worth viewing among others, all mindless and senseless adrift in Sea of Ignoramus.
There has been much ado about it. Some say it’s unthinkable. A few say it’s schismatic. Many say it’s heretical. They are talking about Pope Francis’s intention of rewriting a sentence of Lord’s Prayer with their eyebrows raised in contemptuous incredulity. The fact is that most of these dissidents are like the insular Pharisees and have never liked the pope for his munificent largess of humanity without boundary. The so-called “conservative” Catholics do not want the pope to make Lord’s Prayer as close as to what it is supposed to mean, even calling his purpose an audacious challenge to the infallibility of the Holy Spirit by which the prayer was inscribed in the Holy Writ. But is the pope, who himself is an eminent Jesuit scholar, willfully shaking the bedrock of the teaching and faith of the faithful indeed? Or is the pope really an Antichrist incarnate?
The subject sentence at issue is: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The Pope has recently told Italian TV that it nuances that it is God himself that puts us in temptation, whereas it is us who fall into the trap of evil by our free will. Yet, the dissidents argue the pope’s bona fide, ad homine intention on the following grounds: (1) the change of Lord’s Prayer will sever and bifurcate Christian unity; (2) it will obfuscate the original meaning of the Greek version; and (3) it is simply outrageous to change the most sacred, ancient form of universal prayer as taught by Christ himself.
It is understandable that the root of such misunderstood sentence arises out of the old translation from the Greek to Latin Vulgate and then to vernacular language. However, in terms of the original language of the bible, it is hard to pinpoint one because (1) Jesus and this twelve disciples spoke Aramaic; (2) the new testament was mostly written by Hellenistic Jews (Jews speaking Greeks) and Greeks converted into Christianity; and (3) the bible was further translated by scholars into vernacular language, so that it could be rendered naturally comprehensible to the faithful in their own language. In this regard of clarity, the pope wants to make it lucid to chime the bells of the souls.
If the dissidents regard the pope’s noble purpose of making necessary changes to Lord’s Prayer as a subverting act toward the sacred authority of Lord’s Prayer, then they should look back on the history of Church from the First Council of Nicaea to the Council of Trent and to the Second Vatican Council to remind themselves of the intentions of the Church to render herself accessible to the masses throughout the turmoil of epochal waves of changes according to its corresponding zeitgeist. So why not this time? Call me schismatist or heretic. For all what’s worth in all good faith, I side with Pope Francis.
I wrote this letter to ediotor of “BBC History Revealed” during my lunchtime today upon reading an article about the Wild West. A prospect of its publication is beyond the pale, outside the boundary of even the slightest hint of flattering hope and vain wish. Yet, I was egged on by to express my opinion on it as a new frontier-woman in California with the literary advice from Henry David Thoreau and Horace Greeley that the West is where we can start anew because of the Pacific Ocean, a terrestrial version of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness.
The article about the Wild West in this month’s issue was particularly interesting, since I am a recent immigrant from the East to the West: the restive nature, the swashbuckling gunslingers, the outrageous outlaws and the ruthless vigilantes were all embroidered on the popular Hollywood-generated image of the West that became something of a factoid to people living outside the West.
Even though the U.S. Census Bureau declared in 1890 that no more western frontiers were left to conquer, I believe that the culture and ambiance of the West remains here in California. As someone who lived many years in New Jersey and the New York City before moving to Camarillo, the most distinctive characteristic of California is its unsullied beauty of nature in replacement of the skyscraper jungle as I see every day on the commuter’s railways.
Surely, there’s no more John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, or Paul Newman with Robert Redford walking in the streets. Yet, the spirit of eternal youthfulness is still nuanced by a combination of its beautiful rusticity of nature and a diversity of people interacting with the special aura surrounding the land. For this reason, the West has not lost its charm with its continuous saga of immigrants in search of better future and the timeless beauty of nature.