took this pic in whsmith just before christmas. couldn’t believe there was a literary genre based on wallowing in other people’s misery, much less a section in a shop you could go and ask for,
‘er, excuse me book shop assistant type person, do you have any books that would allow me to holiday in someone else’s misfortune at all?’
‘why yes slightly suspect customer type person, the tragic life stories section is just behind the, coffee table books of starving african children…’
‘disgusting. pathetic’, i railed internally. ‘sad reflection on society’ type thoughts ran amok. i determined to blog on it.
never got round to it.
been thinking about it more and (as usual) turns out that things are a little more complex than i first thought (i am, after all, a bloke).
there is of course, the self-indulgent wallowing as mentioned above – and also the potential for emotional manipulation and abuse that tragedy can afford: it’s one of my main concerns with latest-trend-in-evo-christianity-book the shack. it’s not a terrible book (it’s not a great one either) but at it’s heart is an author that has engineered the abduction and brutal murder of a six year girl in order to illustrate to his readers just how lovely god can be.
the story of david cameron’s son ivan did have elements of the same kind of mass grief/hysteria that jumped up and bit society on the arse around the death of diana. but there was also a sense of humanising a public figure (who i’ve been guilty of stereotyping and dismissing in quite a cruel way), a window on a really tragic condition that i hadn’t been aware of before and the stories of other parents who have shown incredible love and service to children who have suffered for all of their short lives as well as that recurring reminder that life can be short and uncertain and it’s important to relish every joy and ache.
personally, i found neil cocker’s blog (neil’s a righteous dude and friend to some of the cardiff crew) on perseverance just hit home on this last point.
and then there’s always the slightly self-serving side of counting your blessings when you hear of other’s less fortunate etc etc. on a slightly shallow tip, in the wee small hours last night i even found the first four lines of kanye west’s next single plucking my heartstrings.
the irony of mega-rich west bemoaning his many houses and sports cars isn’t lost on me, but this album was written after his mother died, he split up with his fiancee and he saw how empty life can be. because of it, the 808 & heartbreak album (which isn’t his greatest) is thankfully lacking the bragadocious-god-complexity of his previous work.
he IS still mega rich, famous and not ugly though…
hey ho and bless y’all.