Jewel

I picked up Jewel by Bret Lott at the HB public library sale the other month. Began reading it last week. Today I decided I’m not going to finish it. While the story itself is mildly interesting,  I just can’t stand the constant use of the n-word.

I know that might sound strange coming from a person who is OK with every swear word under the sun, and then some. But I was brought up by parents who never EVER used ethnic slurs, and these words all make me super-uncomfy,  especially the n-word. So much so for that one I can’t even bring myself to spell it out. I think I said it once in my life as an experiment… and felt awful for a long time afterward.

There is no rational basis for my feeling, just as there’s no rational basis for the idea that swear words are the worst thing imaginable. Both are silly notions, imo. Yet the fact remains that the n-word is such a huge turn-off for me I will abandon a book rather than see it on every page.

As a corollary,  I completely understand when someone irrationally hates swear words, and I will make a reasonable effort to be accommodating when on their turf.

That said, there is one sentence early on in Jewel, page 5, that I find totes cool and discussion-worthy.

“But it’s history that matters, what keeps you together in the tight ball of nerves and flesh you are and makes you you and not someone else.”

Agree? Is it history that makes you who you are, the collective memory of stories you’ve been told, whether true or false or warped out of original shape… or something else entirely?

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8 responses to “Jewel

  1. History plays a big role. It’s context and backstory. Doesn’t nearly every story have an implicit “once upon a time” at the beginning? What time was that? What creatures roamed then, and what gods did they use to excuse their ideas?

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  2. I completely disagree. I think we would all be much more of who we are if we were able to let go of all memory and personal history. History is often what we choose to use to define ourselves and predict our future actions, but I believe it’s rarely who we actually are. Then again, I think of identity and self as being two different things. History influences identity, but I don’t think it has much to do with the actual self.

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  3. History. When you think about what makes people feel a certain way about words, or anything else, it’s kind of mind-boggling to grok why. Especially given the gazillion influences which have a partial role in molding an individual person’s feelings. It coukd take years for a psychologist to unravel the mess which is affecting somebody’s perceptions. Because each person has their own utterly unique experiences and perspectives. We all like to think that we’re very similar to each other, but given the multitude of influences on our thinkin’s, how could we be? It’s actually pretty amazing that so many of us do somehow share a common view of things. Because unlike animals, we have a robust and diverse language which we use to manage and/or understand a gazillion modern inventions and whatnot. Like TV. And music. And books.

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  4. I have no idea exactly what the author meant, but to me, that’s true in the sense that the ego we built over our lifetimes was created in the context of our story, our narrative, which is necessarily unique. What can make someone, or someone’s story, interesting to us is the fact that underneath our egos, we are all in fact very much alike.
    IN my grandiose opinion.

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  5. Such cool replies, thanks!

    I think that history plays a role in who we are, but we ultimately transcend it the older we get and the more unique personal experiences and flavors we mix in and layer [I keep typing lawyer] over it. Personally, I feel that anyone earlier than my parents played a totally minimal role in who I am, except in a pure bio sense.

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  6. IN that synchronistic way, I stumbled across a Mark Twain quote yesterday that addresses this very question. LIfe, our lives, consists mostly, almost entirely, of thoughts that occur in between actual events which are few and far between. So, maybe in that sense, we are all mostly self-made. This is what the self-help books have been telling us all along.

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  7. Pingback: Speaking of Swearing | Light Motifs

  8. Stay away from Mark Twain books, then.

    Like

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