Monday, July 30, 2007


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.