How much does your already established mood influence your enjoyment of poetry, fiction, and movies? A couple of days ago I started reading Virgin of the Apocalypse, a poetry collection by Corrine De Winter. I tend to read only a few poems a day from such collections, and I started this one on Thursday. At first I couldn’t get into the pieces. Of course there was beautiful language, interesting word use, and strongly imagistic writing, everything that Corrine De Winter is known for, but I wasn’t feeling much emotional power from the pieces.
Then on Saturday morning I picked up the same collection and read “It Was in a Time of War.” Suddenly the meaning clicked. It sang. I turned the page, read “The Ballad of Marie Virgo.” Again, bam, the resonance overtook me. I flipped back to poems I’d read the day before and found in them now the meaning and emotional power I’d previously missed.
What happened? I had given a test on Thursday, and even when I was doing other things part of my mind was focused on grading I had to do. My mood was blocking any chance the poems had to engage my emotions. Once I got the hardest grading done, my mood lightened and suddenly the poems could freely enter my consciousness.
Obviously, the emotional power dwelt in the poetry, but my mood was blocking the full experience. On the other hand, three movies I’ve seen lately failed to engage my emotions, even though I wanted to watch them. We watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Strangers, and Mongol, none of which I cared for. The new Indiana Jones wasn’t as horrible as some have claimed, but I never felt caught up in the story and the ending felt sort of silly to me. The Strangers was supposed to be a horror film. It wasn’t. I didn’t like the movie’s main characters, and the “threat” was very weak. The good guys were a full grown adult male and adult female, facing off with a young male teen and two teenage women. The good guys had a shotgun while the bad teens had an axe and knives. Why didn’t the adult couple just clobber the teens in ten minutes and go out for breakfast? As for Mongol, it had beautiful scenery, and most fight scenes were pretty cool, but overall it just didn’t work as a story. Whenever young Temudjin (Genghis Khan) got into serious trouble the filmmakers cut away, leaving us to assume the miraculous. And though people were threatening to kill him throughout the movie, and he was captured numerous times, his enemies always managed to let him escape. Once he just ran off, because no one had bothered to tie his feet or tie him to a pole, and no one was watching him. Another time they put the great warrior in a yoke but didn’t tie him to a pole and left one guy to guard him. Were we supposed to be surprised when he escaped? There were many other silly parts to this movie.
Finally, though, I started reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening by Danette Haworth, about noon on Saturday and finished it within a few hours. What a wonderful book! It didn’t matter what mood I was in, the book put me in the right mood to really enjoy it. “Violet Raines” is what I’d call a “Tweener” book. It’s not quite a young adult novel, but not quite a children’s book either. I’m a long way from the 12-year-olds that populate this book, but I really found myself involved in their stories and dramas. I thought the story was a very honest portrayal of both the strengths and weaknesses of young folks who are struggling with burgeoning maturity. Well done, Danette. Thanks for an enjoyable afternoon.