Thursday, October 13, 2011

Analyzing or not

When it comes to people, behaviour, ideas, concepts - I love to analyse and go into detail and look at things from all possible angles. And questioning everything, challenging beliefs and finding new ways of looking at things. Unfortunately most people find this tiring, unnecessary and even offensive, so I have learned to keep my thoughts to myself except for the times when I am with someone who likes to analyse with me. I have been accused of nitpicking, picking everything apart, finding fault, being too critical, analyzing things to death - seems people really do find it irritating. But I am really not trying to be difficult - that is just the way my head works. I find it energizing, fun, and there are few things more exciting than coming to new insights, thinking new thoughts, challenging your own beliefs - there is always so much to learn and discover. It saddens me that I can find so few people who will share in the fun!

Interesting then that I really do not like analyzing and discussing some important things - things like music I love, favourite books and films. I have always loved reading and need books around me. I have favourite books I read over and over again, and find reading a good book one of the most exhilarating and absorbing experiences in life. But I have never had the desire to join a book club, and have a huge aversion to discussing my favourite books with anybody. A good book is like a friend, I have a relationship with it, a unique experience of it, just seeing a loved book makes me feel happy and somehow secure. How can I then put it aside and discuss it with others? It would feel like discussing a friend behind his or her back! I also do not like reading popular books while they are on the best seller list and everyone is eager to read them. I like waiting until the hubbub has died down, the readers have moved on - and I can sit down with the book - just the two of us, uncluttered by opinions, discussions, reviews. It is almost as if I feel I cannot form a relationship with a book when it already 'belongs' to so many other people - it cannot be mine alone.

I love memorising favourite sentences or paragraphs in books and repeating them to myself, it makes me feel - I cannot name the feeling - but it is almost like hugging myself, feeling flutterings of joy and pleasure inside. Sometimes I will say a favourite sentence in my head and laugh aloud with pleasure, or do my little dance. It makes me happy.

Films. I prefer watching them alone. Or just with somebody I know well, and whose reaction to the film I can predict. My experience of a film is greatly diminished when I watch it with others. I am too aware of their reactions and cannot ignore it. I cannot separate myself from other people's reactions. And I am also aware of my own reactions and how it will be perceived. When I am alone and embarrassed for a character, I can turn my body away and peer through my fingers and even moan a bit - when there are other people present, I don't want to do this and I get really uncomfortable keeping my 'pose'. And keeping my pose takes away a lot of the enjoyment too. I haven't been in a movie theatre in many years. I would so love to see good films in a theatre, but preferably in an empty one and that is not possible.

Music. I have no regrets about never having had music lessons. I love music, and need to listen to music every day, but I really don't want to understand it. There are so many things I hear in songs that I know can be analysed and explained, but I will never ask anyone to explain it to me. I love the mystery of it. I like not knowing, just hearing and experiencing the feeling it creates in me. For that reason I don't like discussing songs with people. My husband has a good ear for music, and high quality and mastery in music are important to him. Sometimes when we listen to a song I love, he will make a remark about instruments not being played well, or the sound quality not being good, or a singer being off key or something. And without fail it upsets me. It takes away some of the mystery, and again I struggle to separate my experience from his. I wish I knew how to do that - to listen to others' opinions on things I love without becoming upset and feeling that it takes away something from my own experience.

I don't know how to end this post. I can still hear the echoes of language teachers' voices over the years - insisting on good conclusions/ending paragraphs. But there - I will just stop writing now.


  1. Loved your description of how books are like friends, and how recalling favourite sentences or paragraphs from books makes you feel: "it is almost like hugging myself, feeling flutterings of joy and pleasure inside". I experience a comforting pleasure from my visual memories associated with my favourite books. It might be just seeing the spine of the book on the shelf in my mind's eye or it might be a scene from a particular story.

    As for analyzing a book - a couple of novels I have by Neil Gaiman even have a section at the back with "reading group discussion questions". I read them... and then thought, "I don't care for this: this isn't why I read and thinking about - analyzing - the novel in this way would detract from my enjoyment. Stuff your questions!". But I do enjoy the stories.

  2. Oh yes, visualising the spines of loved books on my shelfs makes me feel good too. One reason why an e-reader does not appeal to me yet!