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Favouritism... or, discernment. ^_^

Apparently March 6th will be 'World Book Day'.  At work we have all been asked to contemplate upon the matter of our favourite book.

Of course that's one of those annoying questions for which there is no neat answer.  Myself, I find I like lots of different things for lots of different reasons, at different times.  Not just with books, either.  It's the same with all of these 'ranking' exercises: what are your top five songs, which 3 books would you take to a desert island, who's your favourite actor, what's your favourite colour...

Aargh!  I'm stumped.  With me, favourites are a bit like those sacred occasions whose exact delineations largely depend upon the alignment of the full moon with the optimum condition of the insides of a recently-slaughtered chicken. :-)  The Great Answer to All Such Questions: "It Depends."

Some of these questions are easier than others, though.  I am quite definite that Frank Zappa is my favourite musical personage.  Mind you, he's both unique and comprehensive.  (Notice that I don't even say 'guitarist' or 'composer' or 'rock star' or 'band leader'!)  Everything he composed has the FZ hallmark upon it, but the "project/object" (ah me, how I love it when a life's work has its own glossary!) spans multiple styles, genres and intentions.  So... saying you like Zappa is not really pinning it down at all!  It's just a more convenient, focused way to be vague.  (Can you be focused *and* vague...?  I'll have to ponder that one...)

I suppose favourites, when I'm thinking about creative output (such as a book or a record), quite often come down to 'looking through another person's eyes'.  Some people's worldview might be interesting - their output might be clever and entertaining - but putting yourself in their place (as you read or listen) is somehow not so comfortable or easy or intriguing as it might be when you step into the 'imagination footwear' of some other purveyor of creative goodies - your favourite.  When I swivel my viewpoint round a little bit to glare out of the prickly, irreverent, yet tidily-logical mind of Frank Zappa, well... his 'imagination footwear' (despite some of its dark and slimy corners!) feels... cosy.  It's a joy to visit there.  Maybe when I'm confronted with something that logic says I might well like, but I find I just can't enjoy it... maybe it's not the product, maybe it's the producer.  I mean... Pink Floyd.  Cringe!  I find that music physically - and psychically - uncomfortable.  Whenever I hear it, it gives me the creeps.  Afterwards, I have to put on the Ramones, full blast, just to cheer myself up.  (Pink Floyd is *banned* from the car, at least when I'm in it. ^_^)  Maybe it's not so much the music... maybe it's Roger Waters.  Maybe his 'imagination footwear' is just not my style!

But moving nearer the bookshelf...  Favourite book, favourite book...  Actually, I guess I do have a favourite book.  A vocabulary - a mindfeel - that I can recline into and feel immediately comfortable.  Words that never get tired.  Phrases that deliver a smile every time you read them.  (No matter how many times you read them.)  The book I like best is 'The Mortdecai Trilogy' by Kyril Bonfiglioli.  This is often described as feeling like 'a cross between P G Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler', although never having read anything by Raymond Chandler, I wouldn't know if that was accurate or not.  It certainly has the in-love-with-English (and with *The* English), quirkily-decorative, concentrated-with-cleverness, style-as-substance feeling about it of the fair Mr W.  It's also got that so-English-it's-exotic feel, common to some writers whose recent ancestry is not wholly English.  (Out-Englishing the English in an affectionate, gently teasing manner...)  It's also got convoluted plots, often involving things 'shadowy' - espionage, art theft, etc.  (Of course, it's also three books in one, really, which is cheating. ^_^)  Stephen Fry is apparently a fan of it, which may tell you all you need to know.  I seem to recall he compared reading it to being snuggled up in a duvet.  (There you go: cosy!)

All I can say is that the mindfeel/imagination footwear of dear Mr Bon Fig is Just My Size.  His is the sort of mind I tend to like wandering around in.  (Or, carrying around with me, perhaps.)  Via Charlie Mortdecai, he's funny, he's full of himself, he's naughty, he's a show off, he's unconventional, he's deceptively knowledgeable - seeming to be a harmless buffoon, and then all of sudden showing a rather dangerous side.  I know a person who makes an austere, yearly mind-pilgrimage across the pages of 'The Lord of the Rings'.  (All of it!)  Personally, I prefer an occasional perigrination through the sumptuous wordscape of 'The Mortdecai Trilogy'. ^_^


( 6 confidences — Confide in me... )
Jan. 25th, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)
At some point in his career, Frank Zappa had a dispute with his record label. He was apparently on the hook for a number of albums, and he thought the label was screwing him over; they refused to either release him from the contract or adjust the terms. In response, he rushed out a number of intentionally-poor albums, largely made up of material he had decided wasn't good enough, and shoveled them off to the label to satisfy his contractual demands. When they were released by the label, which apparently didn't really care that they were substandard, he announced why they weren't good and advised fans to avoid them. Then he went to back to putting serious effort into making good music.

The point that inspired that little story was your statement that, "Everything he composed has the FZ hallmark upon it". Would you include even the material on his escape-from-contract albums in that statement? In other words, is even substandard Zappa pretty admirable stuff in your opinion?

Personally, I don't know his work all that well. I know I should, but I don't. So I concede that I don't know enough to have an opinion of my own about the escape-from-contract albums, except that I think it's a pretty clever way to deal with a corporation that was trying to screw him over.

Jan. 25th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
Well, what I mean is, his personality irradiates everything he did. Even the bits that aren't necessarily as good, or the bits that aren't to your taste, you can still tell it's him, pretty immediately. :-)

I like the tale of how he played one of his albums in its entirety on the radio, encouraging listeners to tape it, because the label wouldn't release it...
Feb. 19th, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)
I meant to reply this earlier, but forgot until I did a mailbox search for something else.

Anyway, I forget what I meant to say in reply, other than to say that's a great story. He was quite an interesting character.

Feb. 6th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
I just discovered your entries via the Refinement community. You seem interesting and charming. May I be allowed to read along?
Feb. 6th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
Why, thank you! Such flattery! ^_^

Of course you may read on with aplomb. :-)
Feb. 6th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks muchly!
( 6 confidences — Confide in me... )

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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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