Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 5, 2012 - 1:34pm

I love reading fun, light-hearted humor. But as I go on through out the day I realize that is not who I am. I'm a serious no nonsense kind of person who can take a fun time and drag the energy out of it and insert a dark brooding mood in its place.

With that being said what are your favorite serious moments in books or life that really challenged you to expand your horizon?

Ayn Rand made me really question whether or not I believe that capitalism is bad.

Gregory Maguire made me rethink who is the bad person in this story.

Charles Dickens reminds me that everything may not work out the way you want, but it still can work out.

This is start for those that find they need to be serious from time to time even outside of work.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 5, 2012 - 4:00pm

This post may contain SPOILERS.

There are certain works of Stephen King's fiction that I find emotional or touching even. As outlandish as his writing can get and even cornball cheesy, there are moments in his books and films/mini-series that are genuinely touching and affecting.  I'm going to use a mini-series and a movie example.

In the mini-series "Storm of the Century", it is pretty much a ripoff of Shirley Jacksons' the lottery with the stones thing but anyway, at the end, the demon guy takes one of the children from the town and the entire town votes on it and agrees because he has terroized them and basically shown he can kill and manipulate them at any time. ("Give me what I want and I'll go away.) But for some strange reason, they have to give him a child willingly. The wife goes against her husband and votes to let her child be in the drawing to be one of the children and of course, their kid ends up being the one taken by the demon guy. There is just a terrible moment when he is screaming and thrashing and his wife tries to touch him and he says, "Don't touch me." He is disgusted by her and in the epilogue you learn that they got a divorce because of it and the whole town pretended that their son died in the storm, it was a lie they all held to and created to not accept the reality of what happened.  The whole ending becomes about losing a child, a theme which King brings up a lot in his work from Cujo to Pet Semetary, he does that theme EXTREMELY well. I'm assuming since he is a father he taps into that. 

There is a scene at the end where the wife is just sobbing at her child's grave that she has convinced herself has died in order to live with her choice and she is talking to her therapist and says, "I understand now that there are some wounds that can't be healed." I won't spoil the rest for you but it's a really good mini-series if you can find it, the ending is just so fucking brutal, it actual made me cry because he does see his son again years later transformed into something evil. Then he gives this whole voiceover thing about how, "this is a pay as you go world, sometimes you give what you can and sometimes it takes everything you have."

I also DESPISE the scene in Pet Semetary where the son gets hit by the truck and then the father in law starts a fight with the Dad at the funeral, it just feels like something that would really happen in life that it makes me sick. Or when the mother sees her son again and he is all demonic and possessed and kills her and she flashes back to his death as she dies. King is really good at tapping into the absolute darkness of human nature. How people become hysterrical in their grief.

Also the scene in "The Mist" where the Dad promises his son that he won't let the monsters get him no matter what and it causes him to make the most outrageous terrible choice in the entire film at the end to "save" his son's life.  I loved that movie until that ending which pissed me off so much.  Yet you should see the movie, even though it's about monsters in the mist, it really has nothing to do with the monsters, it's about the people inside the grocery store who go crazy out of fear and start practicing human sacrifice, this religious nut lady who convinces them she is a prophet and it becomes about faith. Miss Carmady becomes the embodiment of religious faith that has gone insane and the main character, the Dad has no faith and it becomes his downfall because if he had just an ounce of faith he would not have made the decision he does at the end of the film.

Okay, that is some heavy shit.

I hope you are happy, you have made me all depressed now lol

Also the young adult book, "The Hunger Games" depressed me too when the kid dies and in the third book when a main character dies in a really horrible way and when you find out who is responsible because it is very political and about how in the end, even the people trying to do good become the villains in order to defeat evil. It brings up the idea that I'm sure a lot of people have in war, what is considered an acceptable sacrifice?  Should innocent people die just to stop a greater evil?  Is it socially acceptable to kill if the end result is peace?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 5, 2012 - 4:14pm

Thank you for sharing that. I don't think sacrificing anything for a larger picture ever works. When you give into one evil to thwart another greater evil, the greater evil will only up the ante the next time around and push you further than you ever thought possible. Once you give in it just makes it easier the next time around. I 've learned this the hard way and it haunts me some nights to know I gave for what I thought would help the greater cause only for them to try exploiting me again and again.

It's the reason you don't sacrifice one child for all the diseases in the world. If you're willing to give up one, how about 100, or 1,000. Who gets to choose. Do you use a lottery. Is everyone equal or do people with lots of money manipulate the system as you know they would try.

When the good people trun out to not be so bad and the good people turn out to be the greater evil, my mind just can't handle the twists and turns and I get so frustrated, in a good way.

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human February 5, 2012 - 4:17pm

The Watchmen made me understand, but also question, the "sacrifice for the greater good" mentality.

Battle Royale (manga, novel, movie) made me realize that under dangerous situations you really find out who people really are.

 

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 5, 2012 - 4:23pm

Lord of the Flies helped me with that.  That is the original Battle Royale/Hunger Games.

Even the title, "The Lord of the Flies" is a nickname for satan.  When the main character hallucinates he is speaking to the decapitated pig's head on a stick, you know things are getting fucked up.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. February 5, 2012 - 4:34pm

Beelzebub (lord of the flies) isn't actually a nickname for satan, but it's close (and has been used in that manner in some Christianity).  The real origin of the name and the God it used to belong to is a pretty interesting lesson in how religions mock other religions and take their Gods and turn them into demons.  Wikipedia (Beelzebub) has it pretty well laid out.  

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 5, 2012 - 4:41pm

Those damn Christians ruin everything.  The Pagan Gods were way nice and more joyful.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. February 5, 2012 - 4:55pm

To be fair, it was the Jewish religion in Beelzebub's case, I think.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 5, 2012 - 4:53pm

Oh, those Jews, haven't they been through enough, Bryan? Jeez.  You wanna resurrect Hilter too?  I'm just joking. I love Hitler, I mean Jews, I mean God, I mean pagans.  Fuck!

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. February 5, 2012 - 4:55pm

Hitler's a dick.

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human February 5, 2012 - 5:00pm

If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have freeways and many other inventions. He's still a dick though.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. February 5, 2012 - 5:05pm

I think we would have come up with freeways.  War is just a pretty damn good motivator for technological advancements.  Either be an inventor or be a bullet catcher.  

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human February 5, 2012 - 5:06pm

Maybe, but it might have taken longer. How's Lone Wolf and Cub btw? I've really wanted to read the manga. I have the films, but haven't watched them.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 5, 2012 - 5:13pm

Deep breathes. Take your time. Think about it.

In the movie of Hypatia of Alexandria, she was killed by the Christian zealots. In the movie that was the turning point when Christianity and Islam really made a large split. It had a very interesting ending. Would you kill the person that you love the most in order to keep them from suffering at the hands of extremists hell bent of torturing people in the name of their God?

It's really messed up that we live in a world where people could actually put us in a situation that we need to think about how far you would go to protect those you care for.

Another one was The Kingdom. When you kill the person that is a mastermind only to create another in the process. It was just sad to think that it will forever be a revolving door of evil.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. February 6, 2012 - 8:13am

So far (book 4 out of 28) Lone Wolf and Cub could be on pace to equal Sandman (Neil Gaiman) as one of the greatest works of fiction I've ever read.  Of course, that's taking each long work as a whole and not as a series of books or story archs.  

It's very serious and explores what happens when an established philosophy of supposed nobility becomes not only outdated but also corrupt.  The last story of the first book really captures a lot of the great writing in the book when (spoiler) after his mother dies, Cub (Daigorō) is given the choice between a ball and a sword.  If he choses the ball, Lone Wolf (Ogami Ittō) will kill the child and send him to be with the mother in the afterlife.  If he choses the sword, then the child will accompany Lone Wolf on the Road to Hell (the Assassin's Path) as they seek vengence.

It's a really great moment.  It reminds me of the story "The Sound of Her Wings" from the Sandman.  It is the break in action that gives you a great look at the writer's intentions for the characters and the story.

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 6, 2012 - 11:22am

"With that being said what are your favorite serious moments in books or life that really challenged you to expand your horizon?"

David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews With Hideous Men for post-sexual-assault trauma and how people cope; the story "Incarnations of Burnt Children" from Oblivion, and the incomparability of pain themes in Infinite Jest

Joseph Heller: Catch-22 - Snowden's secret and Aarfy Aardvark's crime and lack of punishment

David Mamet: American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, but especially Edmond - the logical ends of amoral characters, but still shocking esp. the first times I read the endings of each...

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness for the moral grayness of truth-telling - when it is appropriate to tell an untruth and when the truth is too terrible; Nostromo for the atmosphere of inevitable, eventual moral corruption of each individual; and The Secret Agent for the very intimate murder that occurs toward the end...

(I've noticed that my favorite writers are Davids and Josephs)

PandaMask's picture
PandaMask from Los Angeles is reading More Than Human February 6, 2012 - 11:31am

@Bryan Howie

That sounds really good.

Have you ever read Osamu Tezuka's work?

or Y the Last Man?