I started posting this as a twitter thread, but it got wordy fast, so now y’all are stuck with this stream of consciousness.
I’ve now read The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson 4 times and listened to the audio book no less than 5 times. I don’t even want to count the number of times I’ve listened to the audio version of the Bobiverse books, or read the Honor Harrington series (both audio and kindle/hardcopy.)
For some reason I only just realized how well this equates to the phenomenon I was referring to in a previous incarnation a couple months ago about enjoying music.
I’ve recently gotten to a point where consuming something repeatedly is, for lack of a better phrase, “not intense enough.” Even what other people might consider to be insidious pop music, if it hits me just right I’ll need to listen to it over and over again, not for hours, but days. Thousands of iterations, looking for something in there that I’m not quite getting. Hence the description that listening isn’t quite intense enough.
There have been something close to a dozen people I’ve tried to communicate this to. Most of them of course react the way I’ve come to expect, starting at “Dude that’s really weird” and shading down from there. Fair enough, not a shared experience. Odd that even the musicians I know seem to just blink at me.
A couple, and ONLY a couple have excitedly pointed in my face with a “YES! Yeah I know what you mean. It’s like you can’t listen to it loud enough.” But I’ve yet to broach the topic with anyone who’s had something to add to the conversation past that, which I find odd.
With music my solution was to buy a keyboard, the introductory version of Ableton and start flailing around abortively.
My tentative plan is to pick a basic pop song, one that I’ve become marginally obsessed with, rip it apart and try to put it back together, track by track, as a learning exercise. Then, after struggling with tutorials and recreating whatever laughable facsimile, to move to another.
I haven’t yet gotten very far with that. But that’s fine. I didn’t really expect to rocket out of the gate.
But by that deconstruction/reconstruction practice I’ll at least learn SOMEthing about what these things really are and how they’re made.
When I started writing this I figured my next step in reading would just be to go to the next Stephenson books, the Baroque Cycle et al, hoping they scratched the itch. But now that I’m a few paragraphs in to this I realize that the right way to approach this is the same, clear off my whiteboard and maybe carve off a sub-wiki for myself and just start taking Diamond Age apart to see what makes it tick.
I’m not REAL sure how I’d do that. But I suppose that’s one of those things that I need to approach without the prejudice of thinking I know how it’s going to go, like any beginner pursuit.
That’s going to take a metric shitton of work. But I think if I have any intentions of writing seriously it’s the kind of thing I’m going to have to do. Hell, it may even be a blast.