This is a little project of mine. Come back every couple of weeks and I’ll have added to it. The idea is that sometimes when faced with traumatic or life threaten situations we often start looking back at our lives.
I studied literature and literary criticism at San Jose State University and have decided to use some of those tools to look back at those influences that created me as I am today.
As the title infers I’ll be using an intertexual method, that is looking at the texts that I refer to and that have influence my life and made me what I am. Describing what intertextuality is would take a very long time and isn’t all that important to reading this page. There is a Wikipedia page that gives a slight test of the method: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertextuality The short version is that an author is influenced by the texts and experiences the author has had and this is reflected in the texts produced by that author. In turn a reader is similarly influenced and the intertexual weaving changes the meaning of the text – sometimes in ways the author did not intend. On this page I take my life as the text and attempt to list all the intertexts that have an influence on the text that is me.
My list – Books, magazines, movies, TV shows, people and experiences that have influenced my life:
Earth Abides – George R. Stewart, 1949 – first ‘grownup’ book I read. Read about age 14 A great influence and I share a number of qualities of the main character Ish.
Alas Babylon - Pat Frank, 1959 – first nuclear war book I read. Read about age 14 An influence on my thinking about the futility of war and the qualities that allow people to survive. Shortly after reading this book I wrote the first chapter of a book that I’ll say is the first fiction I wrote. I titled it, “The Day After.” I never got past the first few scenes and last the handwritten manuscript. In 1983 ABC aired a TV movie of the same name and subject – I was disappointed that I hadn’t finished my novel and that someone else beat me to the title. I was also disappointed in the movie.
1984 - Very depressing book. I never made it past the second chapter. It was the first time I felt okay walking away from a book I didn’t like.
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck, 1937 – A classic story set in California. It is one of the first books that my father and I both liked. In the story Lennie is often asking George to “tell me about the rabbits.” The rabbits are part of a fantasy that George has about owning his own place. The reader knows it won’t ever happen and we suspect that even George knows this but simple Lennie falls for the ‘rabbit story’ every time. That phase became part of the common language between my father and I. Often after I had a job interview I’d call dad to talk to him about it and once in awhile would say, “but the guy was just telling me a rabbit story.” We use the phase as a short hand for any story that someone would tell us that knew would never come true.
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley, 1932. A classic distopia novel. Read in high school. At one time I had a great taste for the genre but then moved from wondering about the whole world to just wondering about me.
Secrete History of a Time to Come - actually I disliked the book but I loved the title. It is in a similar genre as Earth Abides – what I like to call, “future history” or speculation on how the world might change in the future. It’s part of the way I think, in four dimensions.
Charlotte’s Web - who would not love this story. Friendship, farm animals and importantly it was read to me in the six grade by our teacher. It stands out as a special time where I learned the value of telling a good story.
Foundation Trilogy – Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1942 to 1966, One major lesson learn, even great well thought out plans can go astray.
Of the god’s Themselves - Isaac Asimov, this book disturbed my mind enough to remember just one thing – the laws of the universe might not be as constant as you think and the basic assumptions we make might not be true or might be changing under our feet. Some times basic facts do need to be rechecked.
Dune - I read the original trilogy in my late teens. It’s not a book I would have pick out on my own but at the time I belonged to the SF book club and they sent two books a month. This was one month I forgot to send the little card back saying I didn’t want the monthly selection. I found the book interesting in its description of space travel and the spice trade. That plus the fact that one person and a movement could change the universe but I got a bit annoyed at the book by the end when Herbert went on about creating a religion.
When Harlie Was One
Buy Jupiter and other stories
Hugo Award winners
Lord of the Rings
A Clockwork Orange
The Narnia Books
Old Man and the Sea
Forty Thousand in Gehenna
Always Coming Home – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1985. The book included a cassette tape with music and poetry of the Kesh, a people described by Le Guin in a series of short stories, poems, articles and histories. If I ever wrote a book this would be the model of creativity that I would strive to achieve. To build a world like this would be my dream. It combines the best of Earth Abides and the parts of my soul that I cherish the most.
The Lathe of Heaven
The City Shortly After
The Schemes of Dragons
Marooned in Real Time
The Caves of Steal
The Dorisi books
Flowers for Algernon
AA Big Book - My father was an alcoholic and joined AA when I was 12. He read the book and kept it close. He loved reading the 5th chapter at the start of AA meetings. As an older teen I went to meetings with him and have read the book. The 12 steps and much of the wisdom in this book are still very much a part of my life and form the basis of my spirituality.
Alateen Book - I attended Alateen from age 15. I studied this book in depth and along with the AA big book the ideas in these two volumes spoke to my emerging spirituality. Still to this day I trace most of my connection to God to these two books.
Merry-go-Round Named Denial – This was a little pamphlet at the Alateen and Al-anon meetings I attended. It was about how alcoholics and their families denied the realities of the disease. My Alateen group did a play based on the book – an experience I’ll never forget.
Trail of the Lonesome Pine – a book referred to in Giliead and one of the first times I read a book simply as an exercise in intertexuality. So many parallels between the main characters in the two works and having read one informs us about the other. so cool.
Voices of Man: Let us be Men – This is a little text book that I got for an English class in high school. Well, the GED school I went to after they kicked me out of regular classes. It is an anthology book with a selection of short stories and poems. The one poem in that book has always stayed in my mind is Sterling A. Brown’s, Thoughts of Death or what I refer to in my own mind as – That gardener poem.
Mad – I read this the first time when I was around twelve. I didn’t lose my taste for its style of humor until my early twenties. I blame this magazine for some my tastes in humor. I recall going to the drug store and always being on the look out for a new addition.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Locus That SF writer’s one in Oakland (Charles Brown)
Raisin in the Sun
Guys and Dolls
Man of la Mancha
Merry-go-Round Named Denial
Chitti Chitti Bang Bang – I saw this movie when I was eight. Mother dropped me and a bunch of neighborhood kids off at the Campbell Plaza theaters to see the Saturday matinée – it was a double feature but I don’t recall the other movie. I do recall getting 25 cents for admission, 35 cents for pop corn and a drink plus I had dipped in my piggy bank and brought another quarter for some candy. Looking back I can’t really recall what the movie was about but I do recall that I loved it and boldly told everyone that it was the best movie ever! I trace my early love for movies to this one event.
Planet of the Apes
Away All Boats
THX 1138 – I first saw this one on late night TV when I was about 15. Didn’t see it again until sometime in the late 80’s when I got it on VHS tape. It’s a strange movie by George Lucas but it’s always been one of my favorites. Filmed in the BART tunnels before they were finished and with a strange story line. The people are oppressed and forced to take drugs. One man, THX, fights the system, becomes a criminal drug evader and escapes into the sunlight above. Hard to explain but I’ve always liked this one.
Taking of Pelham 123 - (1974 version) This is not the greatest movie in the world but it’s not bad and has some great action. I saw when I was 14 and marked a right of passage in my life on two counts – it was the first movie my father took me to see after he stopped drinking and the first time I’d seen an ‘R’ rated movie. It also marked the start of trouble in my relationship with my mother.
The Muppet Movie (1979) – The world’s best movie ever. I often use this an model on leadership style. Kermit is a leader. Not because he forces his will on people but rather because he clearly states his mission and vision – “I am going to Hollywood to become rich and famous. Want to join me?” Well, yes I would. This has been a big influence on my think about leadership. I try to model Kermit’s style whenever possible. Also two of my favorite songs come from this movie, “The Rainbow Connections” and the enigmatic “I am going back there someday” sung by The Great Gonzo. This song has a line I just love – “Old friends who’ve just meet.” This was also the first movie I got on video tape and the only VHS tape I ever wore out and need to re-buy. I think I saw the movie in the theater about 20 times (actually paid to see).
The Blue’s Brothers
The Forbin Project
The Andromeda Strain – 1969, written by Michael Crichton
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Run Silent, Run Deep
The Enemy Below – 1957. Your basic WWII Navy film. The brave Americans go out to sink a German U-boat and both get sunk. In the end they both learn valuable lessons. I still watch it from time to time. I first watched as a kid on Saturday afternoon movies on TV. I know how the movie will make me feel and sometimes when I am depressed this one revives that old feeling of being a kid, eating popcorn and lying on the floor with nothing to do but dream.
The Swamp Thing
The Breakfast Club
Adam 12 – I loved this show as a kid. Watched all the reruns. There was an innocence about Reed and Malloy that I’d like to think still exists in the world. They fought crime in LA and even though this was filmed in the early 70’s the writers managed to do shows about many of the problems we still have today, drug abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, gang problems, etc. Recent I’ve been re-watching the whole series.
Emergency! – I’ve recently re-watched the whole series. I loved it and it brings back memories of what California was like when I was growing up. The had one other value I liked: when waiting for a call Gage and Desoto were very human characters with failings, quirks, and other issues but when the alarm sounded that all dropped away and they focused on just one thing – the emergency at hand. I’ve always valued that.
Star Trek (Orginal and Next Gen)
World At War
Degree From SJSU
Writing all that stuff for SJSU
San Jose State
Not Serving in Military
Boy Scout Camp
High Tech Work
Yesterday - perhaps one of my favorite Beetles tunes. Simple, slow and a bit wistful. A bit like me sometimes. It’s a song that called to me when I first heard it and it still has a power over me -“Oh I believe in yesterday.”
Last Train to Clarksville
I am a believer
Dust in the Wind
Space Oddity (Major Tom) David Bowie 1969
Rocket Man – Elton John. Even rocket men have their problems.
Cats in the cradle – careful your kids will be like you. Oh my, I am like my father.
Simon and Garfunkel:
The boxer – a sad song of a man with a meaning to me that I find hard to express.
Scarborough Fair – classic song of love and loss. One of the few songs I learned to play on the piano.
Peter, Paul, Mary
Light My Fire
Go Tell it on the Mountain
Onward Christian Soldiers
What Child is This?
Jesus Loves Me
We Three Kings
In The Garden
Joy To the Word
Minglay Boat Song
Here is a list of life themes that emerge from my exploration of above texts: