Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Immoralist, etc.

I didn't watch the Super Bowl. I don't particularly care about football, though I've taken a liking to the Arkansas team since I started tutoring the athletes here and working as a bag checker at the games. I kind of stopped caring when the Lions (I'm from Michigan) lost, though its not like I watched the game. I do listen to a lot of sports radio, though, because I'd much rather listen to some kind of talk radio than music, and the NPR station here plays a lot of classical music instead of stuff like The Diane Rehm Show. I'm still kind of bummed they canceled Talk of the Nation - I called once when when they were doing a show on the the Great Adderall Shortage of 2011.

So, the Immoralist: didn't end up the living to what I had been expecting. Gide was, by his own admission it would seem, a pedophile - in a published diary from I believe the 20's, he outright describes his sexual experiences with different young Arab boys. Apparently, he thought of his practices as an extension of benevolent Greek pederasty that elevates the "beloved" though the "lover" serving as a sort of mentor - or at least, he doesn't seem to have admitted to having raped these boys, though of course, one today would say that there was no way for said boys to consent to  such a thing, even if they initiated it (I tend to agree with this), so maybe we can't put Gide in the same category as, say, Jerry Sandusky.

Anyway, the point is - I was expecting some real debauchery at some point. There isn't really much story to the novel(la) at all, just the MC Michel getting sick, feeling better, getting bored, his wife getting sick and finally dying. Along the way he has some sort of conversion would it be? You know how some people go to the gym with almost religious fervor? He gets sort of like that I guess. He becomes something of a sensualist. But the thing is, from the summaries I read, I thought there would at some point be more than just an insinuation of pederastic attraction on his part, that he would abandon his dying wife to diddle little boys - if not, why was the title of the book The Immoralist? But it never happens. All of Michel's "immoralism" is interior: with the exception of what amounts to a prank he plays on the caretaker of his own farm, occasional neglect of Marceline (his wife) which is always followed by him explaining how he thereafter stayed at her bedside for weeks, and holding some unconventional opinions about the Goths, Michel's considers himself in total rebellion from society because he enjoys looking at nature-y stuff and hanging out with lower class people.

Now, there are parts where he comes off as an ass. Being sick made him only want to be around healthful people, to the point that illness and lack of vitality in people disgust him. There are other bad qualities in him too, to be sure - but I was expecting something akin to Lolita, to which the book has been compared, and it never happened. I'm not disappointed because I wanted some sensationalism I never got - it's just that Michel's whole character arc is almost entirely in his own head. I think this piece in The Guardian has some good points about the issue.

What else? Still have some quizzes to grade. And still planning to play a bit more MGS: PW tonight.

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