Stephanie posted a link to an article which sparked an interesting discussion about the value of books.
There is a lot of Truth and Beauty in books that simply does not come across as well in other media. When I watched the Lord of the Rings movies in the theatre, particularly The Two Towers and and the Return of the King, there were parts that brought tears to my eyes, but I realized that the reason for the tears was my recollection of the moments and characters in the books. The films captured visually what I already knew in a deeper sense than anything visual can express. Having read about Tolkien’s world before watching it unfold on the screen, I knew just how Old Galadriel is, how powerful Gandalf truly is and how he doesn’t really show his true power except in small glimpses. I understood that when all was hopeless after Gandalf fell, the fellowship had to “do without hope.”
Books can inspire the imagination in a way nothing else can. To watch TV or a film requires little imagination and often a lot of lethargy. It is difficult for me to read a book without creating something in my mind. And if the author is good, scenes and phrases haunt my mind for days or weeks afterwards. It’s a silly example, but I was reading Reave the Just (a story by Stephen R. Donaldson) and the author was describing a character as being very kind:
“His kindness and cheery temper endeared him throughout Forebridge. But he lacked forthrightness, self-assertion; he lacked the qualities which inspire passion. As with women everywhere, those of Forebridge valued kindness; they were fond of it; but they did not surrender their virtue to it. They preferred heroes–or rogues.”
My initial thought was, “Ain’t that the truth.” People have frequently told me that my problems meeting women in the past were due to the fact that I am “too nice.” Pleasantry is all well and good when you are meeting a client or going for a job interview or visiting with relatives, but when seeking a soul mate, I have looked for someone who is unforgettable, strong of mind and soul; someone who keeps me up at night asking the question over and over, “who is she?” Kindness inspires at most a smile and a nod. Never passion.
So because of one phrase in a short story in a book of short stories, I have been thinking over and over about what qualities of a person do inspire passion. And I’m interested to hear what others think. What makes you passionate ? And it doesn’t have to just be passion for a lover. What makes you passionate about writing code? What inspires you to teach a class, sing in a choir, or see how far you can ride a bike in one day?