Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Letters to Conan: an introduction

Hey Bud-bud,

Assuming you ever read this, I probably don't call you that anymore. Or do I? Right now, it's threatening to be your first word.

There are so many ways that you coming into my life has changed how I look at things. One of them is that I'm suddenly afraid to die.

No, your dad was never some crazy daredevil extreme sports fanatic, nor was he a sweater wearing nihlist sitting awaiting his demise. However, since you've come around, if the thought comes to me that I could die soon, you'd grow up without a dad, or at least without me as your dad, and that makes me sad in a way I've not felt before.

Now, being a total dork, one of the things - although not the first thing - I think when I'm pondering this, is that I hope my blog survives, so you can get the chance to find out at least that level of who I am, the things I like and dislike and what interests me. It's a relatively small part of who I am, although as a total dork, it's also an unhealthily large part of how I identify myself.

Then I come to remember something I always find lacking on this blog already… Discussion of my favorite things and why I love them. Sure there's a couple of posts like that hiding in here somewhere. Not to mention countless passing references to them.

Largely I skip writing pieces like that because they are intimidating. I'm not incapable of writing long think pieces exploring symbolism and nuance, but the times I've tried the results have bored me. I suppose if I were interested in pursuing critical writing, I'd write more and work harder at making them work. Ultimately, I don't think that's my gift to the world, and I'm not that interested.

For example, I see and appreciate the layers of symbolism in the Planet of the Apes movies, how they work as allegories for the age they were made in and how they can be applied to earlier and later struggles of power and disempowerment. The reason I watch them over and over again, and I do, is because they're frickin' cool! The layers of symbolism are, for me, a fun game you can play afterward as you toss it around in your head, but I'm much more interested in the basic core conflict and how the characters deal with those conflicts… and, well, what's frickin' cool, whatever it is that says about me.

Hopefully we'll have a long life together, and we can explore the things I like all the reasons I like them - primal, esoteric and all things in-between - and more excitingly what you like and the reasons you end up liking them, I'm certain those will start with primal and we'll see whether your interests develop into deeper or more esoteric ways of enjoying things. Not everyone does, and not everyone necessarily should, if that doesn't help them get more enjoyment out of the things they like.

Of course, I'll make sure that I or your teachers or whoever is appropriate makes sure you learn how to examine the deeper themes and meaning in art, that's just an essential skill that everyone should develop at some point. I just think you should make of that skill whatever you want, once you've developed it.

I think having a good background in fun books, movies, TV shows, music and whatnot that can also withstand further examination is a good start toward developing those skills, not to mention they're kick ass ways to spend a Saturday afternoon!

So I'm going to start writing letters to you. Hopefully I'll be around and you'll discover these someday and these will be quaint pictures of things we eventually shared, and however much you enjoyed the individual works, I hope you at least were able to enjoy the time we shared on them.

In the event that you do discover these and something did happen to me, please know that I love you so much and these were among the things I wanted to share with you, along with trips to the park, swimming, museums and a thousand other wonderful things I look forward to sharing with.

I don't know how often I'll update with these. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to get excited about things and not follow-through as well as I ought to. I'm working to do better at that, for you and your mom, but I expect it'll be a continuing struggle.

And honestly, it's still a backburner project behind spending actual time with you, holding and kissing you, and hanging out with you and your mom, while we both help you grow.

For what it's worth, I picture this you being around 10 or 12 when you find this. I have no idea how accurate that will be, in either direction, assuming you find these at all. Because of that, I'll be targetting the early entries to things I imagine would be good to discover then (or to have discovered by then). If I do continue, I promise I will get around to Sam Peckinpah, Russ Meyer and gialli for the somewhat older Conan.

For anyone peeking in at these who thinks my early choices might be inappropriate, I'll only say this. As a living, breathing active parent, I believe choices such as that are something to use reasonable discretion with. Many of the things I have in mind are things I discovered when I was in that age range myself, others are in the same maturity range.

I'm not a believer in "ages" in that sense. I think we all develop at our own pace and that one of the roles of being a parent is knowing your child and helping guide those choices appropriately. I don't think "turning" 13 makes you any more prepared to handle watching Red Dawn than you were when you were at 12 years, 364 days, so I plan never to offer an arbitrary date on which something can be read or viewed. I think offering that kind of arbitrary decision is irresponsible, ceding your parental responsibility to be continually aware of your child's development or making your own judgments.

So, for you, Conan, that's my promise. Not that I'll never tell you that you aren't ready for anything, but that will be a continuing discussion I'll work with you on, not just something I'll leave off to another arbitrary day.

Assuming the happiest conclusion - and, of course, the one I'm planning for - and I'm around, all of these will be their own discussion between your mother and me about their appropriateness when their time comes, and if I'm not, it will, of course, be for your mother to decide whether your dad was a fool to imagine such material for one so young and you can blame me for being so foolish as to get your hopes up.

I look at you every day and see the most beautiful little person I've ever seen. I hope to spend a long time into the future. I can't tell you how much I hope that if you ever do find this, you'll be coming to me and laughing at what a sentimental old fool your dad was.

And maybe by then I'll even have to be reminded what you're talking about.

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