Sunday, June 9, 2013

Never judge a book by its cover

 This is a book you can judge by its cover. Don't you think it's beautiful? Though of course you should read between the cover to see if it lives up to the expectations.

Okay, so I wanted to spend more time at this, but I'm only just home, because the trains didn't work properly. So let's get to the point. This post will be about prejudice, and judging something without really knowing it. It is related to your haters question, but is less... hateful. A prejudice can really harm people or situations. That's not what I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to talk about seemingly less harmful prejudice, and how it can harm your own life.

You know that I was in The Hague this weekend. Tomorrow, on the 10th of june, it will be the 150th birthday of (one of) my favorite writer(s), Louis Couperus, and because of there were all kinds of events related to him and his work. I had a great time: first I attended a presentation about the covers of his book, then I went to a play (actually multiple short plays) based on some of his short stories and after that I visited a gallery with art base don his writing (there was also a poet that had written poetry inspired by Couperus reciting in the backyard, but by then I was tired). Once again I was impressed by the variety of genre, the beautiful language, the humour, suspense and wisdom of his writing. I went away with quite a lot of stories and books on my mental 'must-read' list.
            Funny to think about the fact that, ¾ year ago, I had not yet read a single letter by Couperus. I had been wanting to read Couperus for a long time, that’s true. That’s why I had bought a collection of short stories and reflections by him on a shabby bookmarket. I believe it was around 1,50. Then the book just stood on a plank it was mothns before I opened it. Now, I could just say that I had no time, that there were urgent things to do, that I forgot about it, etcetera. But that’s not the truth. The truth is that I thought  it would be boring. The stories were 100 years old, how could they possibly be as entertaining as contemporary stories? Besides, I thought the stories wouldn’t have a very high imaginationlevel. They would probably be about high society in the nineteenthcentury, with gossip, scandal and romance – but all that in a very civilised manner.  Oh, how wrong I was.

I started reading finally one day when I had nothing better to do. I prepared myself. This would be a challenge, but I would complete it. If only to be able to say I completed it.

It began with an introduction by Couperus in which he talked about short stories. I actually enjoyed reading it, and was surprised I did. It also surprised me that he didn’t take himself too seriously, as if this was something only modern people were capable of.
            A tiny crack appeared in my prejudice. Then I read the story about two respectable looking ladies that turned out to be prostitutes and were eventually brutally murdered.
            This did more than just make a crack, it completely shattered my prejudice.
Feverishly I read on, my anticipation higher, feeling I was onto something., that I had discovered something. He had already showed me he could build up suspense and at the same time be humoristic, but he went on to show me the tragedy and absurdism and perceptiveness. And I saw that he had a very high imagination-level indeed, when I read this.

'It was a cold night.
I sat next to the high-flaming fire. Outside a rough wind was pulling at the window; the rain hitted against the glass. 
I was staring into the flames and dreaming. 
Suddenly, in the chimney, I heard a furious noise; I thought it might be a chimney fire. 
Through the furious noise something terrible descended, fell through the chimney!...
I rose up, trembling with fear...
And I saw, in my bright flaming fire, the Devil, who had slided through the chimney and now, scorched red, slender and quickly entered my room from the fireplace. 
- It is only the Devil, I thought; my fear ceased.'

Then I definitively fell in love with him. 
            Well, you know what happened then. I became a fan, meaning that I have another thing to admire (and I love to have things I can admire, don't you? They make life seem so much more worth it.) But my point is that my prejudice almost stopped me from getting to know his work. Of course, it wouldn't have been that great a disaster, but it does point out what a prejudice eventually does: it encourages you to stay on the same old road and definitely not explore for yourself. Cause you might find new things and worse... you might like it!

Lots of life and keep away from the prejudices! 


ps. Sorry if it didn't make sense or is just a little bit messy or not logical. As I said I had so little time.

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