Monday, July 30, 2007

Netherworlds

Some of the finest hours I’ve spent in life have been passed in netherworlds created by screenplays or fancy of fiction. I most recently passed several hours in the netherworld constructed by J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The imagery throughout the story was so real to me that I feel as if I had already seen the movie. I remember the battle scene visually and viscerally, not as a conglomerate of words and phrases.

When I was a child, I would sometimes cry when I finished a particularly compelling novel. I had entered so fully into the plotline that I became part of the story. I had a true sense of loss upon my return to reality. I wanted to be in that other world, in that other time – not in this one. This occurred as a facet of my overactive imagination, not because my childhood was unhappy or troubled.

Emerging from a netherworld is as much a physical experience as a cognitive one for me, like waking from a deep sleep to a slowly increasing awareness of the buzz of life around me. I feel the mist slowly begin to lift from my mind, and I sleepily begin to respond to external stimuli.

I was a slow, intense reader as a child, prone to remember phrases word for word and able to retell storylines in great detail. Sadly, education and employment have given me new “skills.” I read much faster now, looking for key thoughts and developing an overall sense of the material. This is a necessary evil for someone who must review masses of information daily and reduce it to a summary of significant points. When I read now, there is almost always an overlay of sound in my head, a cacophony of reminders to get to the point, to ignore minor details and find the facts. I look forward to the time when I may once again consume each word and digest it, slowly savoring nuances. I want to immerse myself in the text, like a skinny-dipper on a moonlit night, alone in the enveloping coolness of the water.

The magical power of words built my netherworlds, like chanted spells binding me to the tale, weaving me into its fabric, and broken only when the text ran out and the story ended. As a mid-life adult buzzing madly in the midst of the beehive of my life, I suppose I long for the netherworlds of my childhood as the ultimate repose. Perhaps the real joy of later life will be found in escaping once again into the enchantments of those netherworlds.

4 comments:

mommanator said...

I wish I had become a reader like you. I never enjoyed reading like that. I have spent much of my life reading what I NEED to read. I guess I really like to be involved in something instead of reading about anothers experiences. I have always been a hands on gal!.
Great post, where did all those beautiful words come from! From some of your reading I bet!

Random Kath said...

Merci:

I am totally like you - I so miss being able to just immerse myself in a book like I was able to when I was younger, although I was a fast reader then too (so many books, so little time - how true that actually came to be!)

Let's just hope that in later life we ARE able to recapture that joy again - may our health and our minds hold up enough for us to enjoy our time in this way . . .

Zelda Parker said...

Nothing compares to getting lost in a story line. The important thing is reading and that it can take you away from the world around you. Even if only for a while.

Virginia Gal said...

Merci - God have you hit it on the nail or what?! I think you're so right, lately maybe part of my dumps has been this feeling of loss, loss of my childhood - I see Harry Potter and maybe it brings back memoriess of a wildly fun and imaginative early life. Now life is fairly similar and mundane with lots of seriousness and not to much humor.