Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Push by Sapphire

This book is ridiculously disturbing, but for some reason I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the entire thing in one evening. This book was really really a good book, but filled with such bad things. It really kept me interested and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. This book was eye opening in the fact that I tend to complain about little things in my life that bother me: too much homework, fights with boyfriends, etc. and this poor girl can’t seem to catch a break in life. Everyday seems to be a struggle and then once things are looking up her life just crumbles again. Precious was an inspiring character, because no matter how bad things got she did not take the easy way out. She could have easily ended her life, stopped furthering her education or turned to drugs. I couldn’t help but to feel terrible for her and how nothing seemed to go in her favor. I cannot imagine ever having to deal with half of the things that haunted her on a daily basis.

I think the most inspiring part of this book is that at the end Precious seems to be finding herself and that she is worthwhile. I find it great how someone that has been through so much turmoil can turn it around and make a future for themselves. It was also amazing to me how people seemed to dismiss Precious’ problems and never tried to help her. Ms Rain at the end was a mentor for Precious and helped her express herself, but throughout the book people who found out what was happening never bothered to intervene or help. One example is the nurses and doctors at the hospital were aware that Precious was 12 years old and delivering her father’s child. I cannot fathom how people could dismiss hearing a child say something like that; they are having a child by her father and no one caring at all.

I also really appreciate how real this book is. Sapphire tells it like it is, even the most vulgar things imaginable were said bluntly in this book. I think this was important in this story because the reader could really feel the intensity of what was happening. When I read some parts of this book I was like “Wow, did she really just say that.” Also, it helps to connect with the reader on an emotional level. Everyone can understand because the story is told simply and truthfully, nothing is sugar coated. I think anyone reading this book would feel tremendously sorry for what Precious has to go through her entire life. Reading all these awful things made me question, how far can people be pushed to the edge? What is the breaking point where Precious would give up? She was a very strong character and by the end she still wanted to raise her children that were born in incest.

I know that this is just a story, but it is horrible that children do have to go through these types of experiences. I cannot imagine ever having to deal with anything like that; my heart really goes out to these people. And something else that totally confuses me is how can parents ever treat children so poorly. Parents are supposed to be loving and nurturing. I cannot see how they can bring children into the world and abuse them. Some people should never be allowed to have children-I know this is a bold statement. But with all the bullshit we hear about in the world and sad stories involving innocent children it really makes you wonder about people’s mental state and whether they are fit or not to be parents and my guess is NO.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pain Songs

Songs, along with any form of artistic expression, are always much better when the artist is inspired by something dark and painful. Like we’ve discussed, no one wants to read a book about sunshine and butterflies. I think the same applies to music; no one wants to hear songs about happy fairy tales. People are inspired and can create betters things when they put their emotions into it, usually the emotions are dealing with hurt and sorrow. Also, listeners want to identify with songs. I think that it’s easy for people to identify with songs dealing with pain. Everyone experiences some type of pain in their life and barely anyone is always happy go lucky. When someone hears a song like Alanis Morissette’s “You oughta know” it may bring them back to a time when someone in a relationship has cheated on them or done something wrong; relationship trouble is a subject that is relatable to many. I think in this song she sounds passionate and realistic. Songs that make you want to say “screw you” to someone are quite often the best songs to listen to and also to cope with your own hurt.

Although we may think that the radio is filled with far too many whiney songs it would be far more annoying to hear too many happy songs, which would be nauseating. I think that people like to hear songs that they can identify with. Hearing painful songs makes you feel better when you know that other people have gone through the same feelings. There is a sense of a collective feeling; you know that you’re not alone. I always feel better when someone understand where I’m coming from and what I’m feeling.

I think some artists have tried to capitalize on the fact that people love to hear songs filled with pain and sorrow. These songs may have catchy lyrics and may be fun to listen to, but are not believable. For example I think the Eamon and Frankee songs are funny and catchy, but you can’t feel their emotion. On the contrary, I think songs by Nirvana and Alanis are filled with emotion and you can feel the artists’ pain through their voices. We’ve discussed how we love horror movies, being scared and seeing gory things. The same thing goes for music we love to listen to other’s people pain. Maybe we’re glad that it isn’t us or maybe we are glad that someone is feeling similar feelings to us?

I think that it’s interesting that no matter what genre of music there are primarily songs about pain, sorrow and the negative things in life. These lists of songs are so different in so many ways, yet they all deal with the same core subject matter. Artists know that pain is life. It wouldn’t be realistic to have “happy songs.” Even songs that are just for dancing and partying have in some aspect to do with leaving your significant other that didn’t treat you right and going out to have a fun time with your friends. Even songs that are supposed to be for fun deal with the aspect of pain and hurt. It is very difficult to find music that is not about pain. As much as pain may suck, it is inspiring. All of the greatest artwork, literature and music have all been inspired by trauma and the artists carry over their pain into their work. I guess the good aspect of pain is that it can inspire people to create great things. Whether the songs are believable or not I think pain definitely does achieve popularity. The song may be absolutely unbelievable, but have catchy lyrics that people like to sing. Or on the other hand the song may be filled with emotion and touch us so much that we love the song. Either way, pain is prevalent in these songs and it attracts us just like the horror movies and gore that we all love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tweak by Nic Sheff

Wow this was a really great book. I enjoyed reading it because it was so raw and real. I like how he tells the reader how being addicted to these drugs really feels. He emphasizes the incredible highs, but also how these drugs can take over and ruin someone’s life. Nic Sheff’s life was filled with experiences that were eye opening. I like how he writes very nonchalantly about very intense, painful and sometimes odd experiences. At certain points in the book Nic would discuss blood squirting out of the needle or prostituting as if they were everyday normal experiences; these were his everyday experiences. I liked how he gave us insight into a lifestyle filled with these experiences in which I cannot relate to. Nic throughout the book seems like a genuinely good guy. He cares about everyone around him and just wants acceptance. Throughout the book I was rooting for him to stay clean and change his life around. As I continued reading I saw this less and less probable as he continued relapsing each time. I felt the same way as Nic’s father, I wanted to believe that he had changed, but it was something we heard all too often and he never stuck to his word completely.

I’ll admit it, I cried at the end of the book. I thought it was very touching how Nic and his parents were able to dig deeper to the root of their problems. Nic’s mother admits that they have done a lot to hurt Nic; this was the first time in the book that Nic’s parents took some responsibility for how their parenting may have effected Nic and his problems. Since Nic is known for relapsing, it is possible that he would in the future but the epilogue discusses how he has moved to Savannah and has been happy there. After reading the book I feel that Nic’s seems like such a kind hearted person that I only wish the best for him in the future. He has had many struggles and he’s the type of character that you want something to go right in their life for once.

Another point that stood out to me was Nic’s belief in God. At first he was vocal about saying that he did not believe in God and that he was a militant atheist. We see a progression throughout the book of him trying to find his spirituality through his hardships. The book discusses the first time he prayed to God for serenity, but wasn’t sure if he believed in God. Then when Nic was first in recovery and relying on Spencer, he would pray everyday to clear his mind. It was interesting to see Nic going from believing there was no God or supernatural being to praying to God everyday.

It was interesting reading the book from Nic’s perspective, but I’m also curious to see how his father’s perspective differed. Nic’s father has been very skeptical throughout the book due to Nic’s cycling of relapses. Even at the end of the book his father is not sure if it was the right thing for him to visit Nic at the Safe Passage Center. I understand his frustration with Nic’s relapsing, but the father comes off to me as a little harsh in the book. On the other hand, I do understand that Nic has stolen and pretty much given up his family in order to support his drug habit. I think getting better insight into his father’s thinking will help me to even better understand their relationship. Does his father, like his mother, believe that the way that he raised Nic had something to do with his problems?

In this book we can see many of the frameworks that Arthur Frank creates in his book. One of the body types that I saw a lot was the mirroring body. Nic discusses that he has always tried to keep a nice physical appearance because he can’t change the darkness inside of him. So by dressing and looking nice on the outside, he thought it would fix the inside. Nic shifts between all the types of narratives. When Nic is content being clean and things are looking good in his life he is in the restitution narrative. When Nic relapses or has intense urges to relapse he is in the chaos narrative. He doesn’t know what is going on and his life is not making sense to him. He even says he doesn’t want to live anymore. At the end of the book mostly and in small parts throughout the book we see the quest narrative. At the end Nic wants to make amends with his hardships and grow from them. At the Safe Passage Center Nic works to re-experience his trauma so he can grieve with it in a healthy manner and learn from the past.