Thursday, January 12, 2023

Old and new

In this relatively recent era of social media posts, one of the experiments in personal habits I have wanted to try in the last few years was to use some of my social media accounts for a quick share of something, but then allow (or push) myself to examine that same something in a more expanded way on this site. 

For example, sometimes I quote things or share a photo with a quote on my other social media accounts, but often the more in-depth ideas or thoughts, I either write in my notebook or worse, post and then carry-on, thinking no more about it. Writing it out in long form and publishing it here means I can do a better type of thinking, even if it amounts to just a string of jumbled thoughts. Whereas the initial spark often comes from something underdeveloped, but still notable to share quickly elsewhere in a truncated format. (So apologies in advance, if depending how this experiment in writing habits goes, you see something here that you've seen me post elsewhere. I had more to say about it or I'm talking about it again.)

The sheer pace and pressure of our modern lives can easily crowd out time for reflection. ~ Os Guinness, The Great Experiment

So in this case, I liked this Author's Note at the end of The Picts and The Martyrs that Laura and I have been reading aloud together for a very long time. (It's part of the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome which I started reading aloud to Seth. Laura was very little when we started those early books, so she has suggested after we finish this one, we start the series over again.) 

And the part that strikes me is that his stories came out of his childhood adventures and memories and he could not help writing it. He had such fond memories that he wanted to create stories that will give others memories of reading good stories of sailing, adventures, mishaps and camaraderie. His childhood play with siblings was a gift and he in turn, gives that back to his readers as another gift for generations to enjoy. They have made movies of some of his books and we have enjoyed one of them so far. We have made memories reading these books together, laughing over the plots and the funny things the characters say and guessing what the outcome will be and in watching the movie together.  I even made a bunting for Seth years ago to remember these stories. Many families have other books and series that they also enjoy good memories together.

I've been enjoying a collection of C.S. Lewis essays borrowed from the library entitled, Of Other Worlds. I'm only on the second essay because I was reading them quickly and then slowly over the last two busy months. In this one, he discusses both reading children's stories and writing for children and many of you have likely seen quotes attributed to him about this topic. Here's a paragraph that I wanted to especially note as someone who still reads 'children's books' on my own and who also is purchasing, recommending and even sometimes coaxing certain books onto the children in my life. 
In this short glance at the Bastable Trilogy I think we have stumbled on a principle. Where the children's story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that, will read the story or re-read it, at any age. I never met The Wind in the Willows or the Bastable books till I was in my late twenties, and I do not think I have enjoyed them any less on that account. I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last. A waltz you can only like when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.
When I am in places like libraries or bookstores where books are on display and full cover art is visible, it's tempting to despair over the titles that are being promoted to voracious and reluctant readers alike. Okay, I actually do despair, but I'm not going into that here.  
Social media makes it easy to get clicks and responses by posting photos of such displays and adding commentary highlighting whatever issues you see. It's like the posts where people share ugly architecture and homes. I get the idea, it's terrible; now share the good ones, that ones that last and are read with pleasure at any point in your life. 
Lewis defends his principles:
The modern view seems to me to involve a false conception of growth. They accuse us of arrested development because we have not lost a taste we had in childhood. But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things.

Like Lewis, I'm still adding new things to my life and changing through this growth, but I still retain a taste for the good old things that my childhood gave me.

Currently reading, but not previously mentioned in this post:

  • Anne of Avonlea (re-reading as I go back through the series now that Laura has read them all so we can talk about them together)
  • The Island of Sheep (I have a lot of Buchan novels so I'm reading all of them.)
  • How to Get Away With Myrtle: A Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery (this would be me reading a book I suggested to Laura at the library and decided to bring it home anyway...)
  • For the Family's Sake (a re-reading suggested by Carol at Journey & Destination)
  • Mrs. Miniver (re-reading)
  • Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America (a curious biography, found on my FIL's shelves this past autumn)
  • Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World (found for free as a pdf)

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