Thursday, July 1, 2010

Anthropology 101

I've come to the sad realization that I spend more time reading book reviews than I do reading actual books. Then I end up buying 3 books for every 1 I read. My Amazon wishlist looks like the inventory of a Barnes and Noble.

Regardless, glowing book reviews lead to finding wonderful books, and the blogs have been set all aglow over Hilary Hamann's Anthropology of an American Girl. Previously self-published in 2003, it's recently been re-published and finally gaining some recognition. I'm only a measly 150 pages into it, but by page 35 I had already bookmarked several passages.

The sea is an international sea, and the sky a universal sky. Often we forget that. Often we think that what is verging upon us is ours alone. We forget that there are other sides entirely.

If she could no longer be called beautiful, she possessed something better--a knowledge of beauty, its inflated value, its inevitable loss.

I preferred the apocalyptic terrain of cities--the melting asphalt, the artificial illumination. Unlike Jack, I looked forward to the future. At least when things are as bad as they can get, they can't get worse. the future would be untouchable, hypervisual, and intuitive, a place where logic and progress have been played out to such absurd extremes that survival no longer requires the application of either.
"Notice how all it takes is the Force to blow up the entire Death Star?" I would tell Jack. "The future won't be jet packs and space stations; it'll be aboriginal. The language of the physical will atrophy. Our minds will coil inward, and our eyes will grow large to see beyond the seeable. No one dies in the future. We'll all preserve ourselves to be reconstituted."
"That's the whole fucking problem," Jack would say. "I don't want to live forever. I'm having trouble with the idea of Tuesday."

"You're old when you learn that needs are to be eclipsed by civility. You're old when you join the sticky, stenchy morass of concealed neediness that is society." You're old when you give up trying to change people because then they might want to change you too. When you're young needs are explicit, possibilities endless, formalities undiscovered, and proofs of allegiance direct. If only there were a way to keep the world new, where every day remains a wonder.
"Jack," I said. "Remember how easy it used to be? Remember when friends used to cut themselves and share blood?"

In school eyes are everywhere, there are twice as many eyes as bodies, and in our school there were about a thousand bodies. Highschools offer nothing compelling for all those eyes to regard, nothing other than the vista of teenaged bodies, which is sort of the entire fucking problem.

Boys will be boys, that's what people say. No one ever mentions how girls have to be something other than themselves altogether. We are expected to stifle the same feelings that boys are encouraged to express. We are to use gossip as a means of policing ourselves, This way those who do succumb to the lure of sex but are not damaged by it are damaged instead by peer malice. We are to remain united in cruelty, ignorance, and aversion. We are to starve the flesh from our bones, penalizing the body for its nature, castigating ourselves for advances from men that we are powerless to prevent. We are to make false promises, then resist the attentions solicited. Basically we were to become expert liars.


  1. I wish I just bought three books for every one I read. It would save me money. So many books, so little time.

    Great quotes from that book. I particularly enjoyed the one about girls and this one: No one dies in the future. We'll all preserve ourselves to be reconstituted."
    "That's the whole fucking problem," Jack would say. "I don't want to live forever. I'm having trouble with the idea of Tuesday."

    I think I'm going to have to check out this book. It sounds very good.

  2. I would loan you my copy, but I got it as an e-book. :( But you should definitely check it out. It's really good so far.