Thursday, April 12

On Reading, Writing, the Malaise, and Fantasy Literature

I am currently reading Luke's Gospel, Tolkien's Roverandom, and Rossignol's This Gaming Life. Luke is challenging me, but I'm not sure I'm rising up to the challenge. I like Roverandom so far. It is much more whimsical than Tolkien's other pieces as it is a children's story, even moreso than The Hobbit, in fact. The introduction to This Gaming Life seems to be out to prove a point in defending the value of games by arguing for their ability to sharpen the mental reflexes of gamers and increase their ability to process information from multiple sources simultaneously. That's all well and good, but I look forward to seeing what else he has to say about video games and gamer culture.

I'm considering enrolling in a course on Creative Fiction next semester as an elective, so I've been thinking lately about what kind of fiction I might write. I would like to write about the Malaise, but I'll have to come at it from my own angle. How does one such as me write about the Malaise in a way that people understand? The Malaise, for me, seems to stem out of tasks of mental abstraction. Ironically, some of the things I most love--computers and games--seem to be the triggers for the abstraction of my self from itself. If I want to write about the Malaise, I will have to relate it to those things somehow.

Of course, I could also make an attempt at fantasy literature, as I have had an interest in doing since my childhood. I tend to feel very critical of modern fantasy literature. Tolkien invented the genre and very few have done anything truly original with it since then. For some reason, fantasy novelists seem incapable of separating the genre of fantasy from the epic scale it participates in within Tolkien's literature. My theory is that most fantasy novelists would be better off sticking to smaller adventures, or fantastical travelogues, rather than trying to create their own worlds. Maybe I just feel this way because Fellowship was my favorite of the trilogy and I think a lot can be done with the journey theme, but I also know that Tolkien spent years crafting Middle Earth, and he did it from his viewpoint as a linguist--it seems a little foolhardy for so many authors to try to start where he finished.


  1. I would LOVE to see what you come up with, especially if you hit on the Malaise. I really want to write on this myself, someday, but I'm conflicted on how to update Percy's concept of it to our current time and culture.

  2. I'm not sure if I'm capable of expressing my own experience of the malaise, much less anyone else's, but I would like to try someday.

    I opted for writing a fantasy short story instead.