If my first creative writing class of the semester left me feeling inspired, my first lit class left me feeling quite numb. It is on epic and romantic literature, which I
guess sounds good on paper, but in practice, it means we will be reading this book:
It is gigantic. It is bigger than the copy of the Bhagavad Gita that I bought for a quarter from a Hare Krishna at the Los Angeles Airport, which itself is a brick of a book. In fact, it looks less like a book and more like big, pulped chunk of TREE. Fortunately no one made me read the Bhagavad Gita, because a lot of it is Hindi. It also includes some illustrated pages, which are pretty scary — although not quite as scary as that the picture of Queen Elizabeth I on the cover of The Faerie Queen. Sadly, my scanner isn’t working right now, and the online gallery I found has slightly different, less glossy and less creepy versions of the pictures. One of my favorite pictures in the book features a chariot driven by horses who are each wearing a symbol of a body part around their neck: an eye, an ear, a nose, etc. There are a couple of dudes in the chariot and they are really freaking out.
The caption reads: “The chariot of the body. The five horses represent the five senses (tongue, eyes, ears, nose and skin). The reins, the driving instrument, symbolize the mind, the driver is the intelligence, and the passenger is the spirit soul.”
Neat! It’s so much less disturbing when you just put it in words!
Allegories and metaphors are usually easier to depict in writing than they are in art — which I think is why a lot of religious art is so horrifyingly bad. The Faerie Queene is supposed to be an extended allegory about how great Queen Elizabeth was, and also there’s supposedly some metaphorical jazz about how to live a virtuous life. But even if it’s a really brilliant metaphor, I feel like I’d rather look at some silly pictures of doves and shining souls than read The Faerie Queene, because not only is The Faerie Queen about a gazillion pages long, it’s also a dang poem! And it was written before anyone thought about standardizing the way you spell things, which means it took me a couple of tries to even find the darn thing on Amazon.com, since Edmund Spenser apparently liked his vowels too much to just call it The Fairy Queen. You couldn’t get away with that kind of stunt today, no sir!
So by next week I’m supposed to have read hundreds of pages of misspelled poetry that was written 400 years ago, but made to sound like it was written 500 years ago. I would have started this evening, but I still haven’t bought the book, and since I’ve had a couple of late nights in a row (and not by virtue of doing anything exciting), I was probably too tired to read archaic verse tonight. I had a hard enough time staying awake in class. In fact, I may have dozed off to the extent that while my head was leaning on my hand and my eyes were focused somewhere on the air floating over the page we were reading, my mouth may have lolled open and I may have actually drooled on the table. Maybe. I don’t think anyone saw if I did or not.
Fortunately, while reading The Faerie Queene may be hard, other things are easy! Like downloading old DOS shareware games and playing them on my Mac! Who knew? I didn’t even think this was possible, but within minutes of googling Monster Bash, I had downloaded it, found an emulator and was reliving my childhood.
For a game staring an eight-year-old boy in blue-spotted pajamas, this game was really gory — everything exploded into bits of flesh when you hit it with your slingshot (even skeletons!). But the best part was that after you killed a zombie, his head would fly off of his body and roll around on the ground trying to attack you until you shot that, also. The plot of the game was that you had to rescue a ton of dogs and cats which had been kidnapped by monsters and scattered around graveyards and haunted houses. It was actually a lot of work and didn’t really make a lot of sense, but on the other hand your character could jump 20 feet in the air, never had to sleep or go to the bathroom, and could get sewered five or six times without dying, so it was a pretty decent trade off. I spent hours and hours playing the game as a kid, bashin’ monsters and freein’ the pets.
It would be very easy to spend hours and hours playing it again, and not reading a single misspelled word of The Faerie Queene. Should we take a vote? How do YOU think I should spend my time, dear readers??