24 March 2011
Post 362: The Ground Beneath Her Feet
I cannot talk about this novel without talking about music. It is the center of the book, it's motivator and even a metaphor for the human condition and love, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.
However, I don't really care for it.
It's not that I don't like it, but if I wasn't able to hear tomorrow, music is not one of the things I would miss. I would have felt differently about ten years ago, but it was a bigger part of my life back then. Nowadays it seems to be more of a nuisance than a life enriching art form. This might have more to do with the kind of music being foisted upon the public and sold to teenagers than anything else, but really I've just become less interested in it in general.
When I was growing up music was always playing in my house. My father had nearly impeccable taste in music: Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, The Band, BB King, Vanessa Williams, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, and hundred of others. His vinyl collection was pretty impressive and we listened to it about as frequently as we watched television in my early years. Sundays seemed to be a day almost dedicated to playing his record collection. As I grew up my music tastes diverged a little bit: I started listening to the early rap (notably Dr. Dre, Coolio, and a few others), and while we were in Oklahoma I also listened to a bit of country. But my roots are and were still firmly planted in the early rock and roll, so even the country I listened to sounded closer to rock and roll than the more twangy cotton-mouth version you can hear on CMT.
By the time I moved to Alabama, without dad, I started listening more to the Blues intermixed with alternative music and metal (KoRn, Smashing Pumpkins, Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, Nirvana, Metallica). My classmates and teachers found this a bizarre mix. One of my teachers was especially confused about why I liked the Blues, as she found them "depressing." I found it difficult and somewhat ironic trying to explain to an African American woman raised in the South why singing about heartache and oppression was sometimes the only way to help me forget it, if only for five minutes.
Sometime during college, music just started meaning less to me. No, that's not quite true: sometime in college, most of the music that was being played on the radio stopped meaning anything to me, and the rest began causing emotional distress. So much of my early life was attached to music that I cannot now detach certain people, emotions, or memories from certain songs. It's not that I don't like these songs anymore, but for the most part I cannot handle the mental distress it causes. Songs like "Hallelujah" or "Mad World" or "Searching for the Ghost" by the Heartless Bastards never fail to put me in tears by the end of the song. Even Christmas carols get me going more often than not.
You would think this would drive me to the more insipid songs, the bubble gum pop that assumes I didn't learn my days of the week and expects me to believe that a 16 year old knows what it means to be in love forever. Instead it just makes me wish the whole world would go quiet, if only for a few days. Maybe it would give us time to think about how stupid everything is right now.
This is such a lengthy and involved novel that it is hard to focus on one thing to write the review about. However, I found Meredith Dias's evaluation of Rushdie's themes in this novel to be very helpful in digesting this epic.
LibsNote: Library copy.