While waiting for the ENDLESS WAR Bookclub to finish reading Picture of Dorian Gray, I’ve been reading more works by Oscar Wilde, including The Importance Of Being Earnest. While all the media I meander through, and all the experiences I have, won’t directly influence “The Story,” there were three thoughts I had from the first 15 pages of the play: first, I don’t like how tending to Mr. Bunbury is used as an excuse for skipping.
Spoilers?: Minor [loathesomeness of characters]
Second, which is true with all of Wilde’s works I’ve read, I don’t like any of these characters.
I suppose that’s a fair compromise for getting outside my comfort zone and reading works in media like this, but for a character like Lady Bracknell to say “Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he is going to live or die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life.”
I quote that in full because while I agree, it hurts, since I’ve felt in terrible health lately.
I’ve been apartment-bound for the past two days. While it should be easy for me to leave my apartment, to drive somewhere, the effort required for all that is not worth the effort expensed for the reward. What reward would I get? There are no groceries worth that effort, so I’ve remained, unwashed, unbathed, and perhaps in worse health than in previous days while I waited to find out what would happen of my case. I am writing this on Saturday morning; I awoke without an alarm at 1am; the earliest I might hear back is Monday morning, so I will need to tend to myself and care for myself as best I can until then.
I suppose I am personifying this Bunburyism, but it struck me in this way.
That third thought that struck me was that the only character I’ve liked to any degree, other than Sibyl in Gray is Lane, the manservant. Do I like simplistic, non-conniving characters? I wouldn’t say that I like Lane. The only characterization we get from him is that he was once married and he shared that information involuntarily. What I might consider is that he hasn’t given me a reason to hate him yet, whereas, in Picture of Dorian Gray, almost all of the characters have traits that make them characters I don’t respect.
My mind meandered through current events, in regards to Black Lives Matters.
One thing I appreciate about this movement is calling attention to is the subtle or overt racism of the past and how we can work to dismantle these trophies of wrongdoings. It’s not so much that it was once OK and now is not. It’s more that we can now say that, no, it’s actually shitty to be rude to people in regards to their health or skin color. Now, the stretching in this regard is that, I wondered, would Pollyanna – Trishna’s service dog – be problematic? If she were a servant like Lane, that could be problematic, and if she were a slave, that would definitely be problematic.
It’s important, then, to consider these historical ramifications.
In “The Story,” Trishna needs a service dog to help with tasks around the house and to make sure if she has any trouble that she can be tended to, but because Trishna is fairly independent, the role of a service dog is fairly minimal. From my perspective, which is admittedly not much more nuanced than a surface-level understanding from compulsory education and the contemplation that being shitty toward people is wrong, I don’t see that concept as being problematic. I haven’t had any conversations with others about this concept, so I don’t know, it could be problematic.
This sort of lack of social-testing could be where problematic thinking arises.
If we, instead, try to learn from others when we are wrong, then even when we’re uncomfortable we can grow. I suppose if I were to consider Pollyanna as a non-problematic, likable character, I would consider a scene I’ve been thinking about frequently recently. John and Trishna had been playing a videogame. Trishna goes to get a snack from the kitchen. Pollyanna wakes up from a nap and rests her snout on John’s leg, so he turns off the game, and pets her head until Trishna returns with treats for everyone.
It’s the sort of scene that makes you feel good.
I thought about how that scene has lingered in my mind because it’s the sort of scene that might play out in my mind as something I would want to do with my own childhood dog, Patrick, where if he were to have come over to me while I was playing a videogame, I would want to pause it, pet him on his head, give him treats, and call him a good boy. For right now, and without asking others about this topic, I think approaching Pollyanna from that perspective would be the perspective to make her non-problematic. I don’t see Trishna or John ordering Pollyanna around excessively, being abusive, nor rude to her. At most, Trishna might say “hey, Lady!” when she needs Pollyanna to retrieve something, but otherwise, especially by the time John moves in, Pollyanna can easily enjoy her retirement.
I will need to do more research on service dogs.
Although I have certain ideas in my head for how I want to tell “The Story,” I also don’t want to be rude either to potential current or future readers, which is why I think it’s important to be critical of everything. Look at anything and ask yourself the big questions of whether you would consider something offensive or not.
Excusing bad behavior with contemporary contexts isn’t a good excuse.
|Quotes:  I’m sure characters like Lady Bracknell were written as cartoonish caricatures.|
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: After some reading, then watching tim rogers of ACTION BUTTON review the Last Of Us, I thought of the three points that anchored this essay. It went in some wild directions, which is why it was an evening essay. It’s a “The Story” essay, and a health essay, so it’s kinda weird, I guess. Whatever. Thanks for reading. Or, skipping to the end.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.” Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 June 20 [4:56am to 5:54am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 20 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|