Sometimes my friends are much smarter than I am.
Actually, more than sometimes.
This is Geri, from when she was my roommate.
Yes, those are fairy wings.
(Gee, I just can't figure out why we're friends. :P )
I've been an avid book reader for 23 years. (At least I think so. My earliest actual memory of reading is of 101 Dalmations, which is a novel, not just an intermediate or an easy reader. Therefore I assume that I was a beginning reader no later than age 3 or 4. But this isn't really relevant. On with the show.)
The point is, I've been reading for a long time. I was raised by a mom who has practically read everything ever. And yet I just learned something completely new about reading, courtesy of Geri.
In stories, I'm sort of the ever-present tag-along. I watch everything as if I'm there, but just observing. Not interfering.
As Geri put it, even if the character was a mid-twenties American female who made harry potter wands and worked at a library, I still wouldn't see her as me, or me as her. I'd notice the similarities and be able to understand her very well, but she'd still be someone else that I was watching stuff happen to.
And apparently that's not usual. It seems that a great many people, when they read, actually put themselves into the shoes of the main character. They become Harry, or Bella, or Katniss for the duration of the story. They feel the story as though it was actually happening to them.
This might seem like common sense to you. But I didn't know. That's not how I read.
Do you even begin to understand how much stuff suddenly makes sense to me now that I know this?
For one thing, I finally get why it's more important for me, than for some, to really fall in love with the characters in a story. If you become the narrator, the stuff that happens to you will feel personal, even if it's stupid stuff. But for me, I have to have a really good reason to become besties with them first. If I do, then I'll be overjoyed or devastated along with them. But if I don't, then the stuff that happens won't really matter to me.
More importantly, though, it gave me a flash of insight into an on-going argument I've been involved in.
This is Barbara. She works at the library with me.
Yes, that is a (thankfully plastic) bloodstained cleaver.
You may, by this point, be seeing a pattern in the people who are my friends. :P
Barbara is the only person I know who is weirder than I am. (In good ways, of course.) Barbara also likes Twilight. (In the avid defender kind of way, and not as a casual reader.) I despise Twilight.
Thus the basis for our argument.
My concern, here, is that Barbara is a linguist. She is a word enthusiast. She literally sees the pictures in her head as conglomerations of text.
Essentially like this =>
(Except she doesn't know that many languages. Yet.)
So I've been perplexed, befuddled, astonished, disconcerted, flustered, bewildered, non-plussed, mystified, and straight up confused about how someone who loves words like she does could possibly be so very defensive about a series that many acknowledge as having no literary value whatsoever.
The one thing I could ever remember is her saying something about really identifying with Bella.
And suddenly it makes sense!
*Stars and Stripes Forever plays*
Because of the way I read, when I tried to stomach Twilight, I had the usual task of deciding whether or not Isabella Swan was worth becoming best friends with. I weighed pros and cons. (And between you and me, I'm pretty good at finding the cons.) Do I want to hang out with someone like her?
To me, she came across as lame and shallow. Emo. Self-pitying. And easily infatuated by a pretty face.
I rather feel like Kristin Stewart was aptly cast. (And that is a terrible thing.)
Any similarities between myself and her were utterly irrelevant. (I didn't see that many anyway. Other than both being dark haired and anti-social.) There were too many things I didn't like about her to bother with trying to understand why she was an idiot.
I'd never be friends in real life with a person like Bella Swan.
And yes, I have reasoning behind these judgments. But that's not the point, here.
Now, if we look at the other type of reader, things change completely.
If you become Bella, and identify her, even just a little, then the stuff that happens to her becomes personal. It happens to you. And when things become personal, even more connections get made. Even similarities that would otherwise be totally unimportant, can crop up and increase the bond.
Me and Geri also discussed relative ages. I read Twilight when I was 25. That probably made a significant difference. A silly little teeny-bopper of 14 will interpret and understand Bella's reactions in a vastly different way than I did as a fairly well-adjusted (if poor) college graduate.
I'm explaining this terribly. It always goes so much better in my head.
All I'm really trying to say is this: I still think Twilight is useless. BUT I finally understand why some people can get attached anyway. It's another one of those "our brains just interpret stuff in a different way" type of things.
So consider this a truce on the Twilight Bashing. :)
That is all.