Both of these tales highlight the lives and experiences of unremarkable individuals and their common struggle against situations beyond their control. Now, I've been an avid reader since a fairly young age. As I've grown and my taste in the written word has shifted I've discovered many different aspects that make reading so enjoyable. What I've recently discovered over the past year is that when you read frequently, you can begin to see connections between the books you choose without realising it. Now these two books (and throw in The Perks of Being a Wallflower), they each are about young boys struggling through their lives and their own human experiences. The fascinating thing is that these boys (fictional and real) are from three different countries.
The Kite Runner focuses on Amir from Afghanistan. Growing up Amir deals with the struggle of getting his father's love and approval, he struggles to deal with his bestfriend being of a lower caste than him and the prejudice that both experience because of this, Amir then struggles through the effects of war and dealing with regret in his later life.
A Long Way Gone is the memoir of Ishmael Beah. Growing up in Sierra Leone, Ishmael's family was abruptly severed by the cruel war that raged through his country. He ran from the war as long as he could until he was swept up in the army and was conditioned to kill and pillage villages as a young boy. Finally Ishmael is given the opportunity to free himself from the violence and drugs, however it is not an easy journey, and he has to struggle to avoid being swept up with the violence that refuses to release his homeland.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie grows up in the Pittsburgh, PA area. He deals with his childhood bestfriend's suicide, and being the victim of sexual abuse. Dealing with his own peers and the pressures of highschool.
These books have greatly contributed to the theme of "The Human Condition" in my thoughts. They are all about the lives of young boys around the same age, experiencing their own tragedies and world-changing situations, their own struggle to rise above, in three vastly different areas of the world.
Words and phrases like the human experience, the human condition, existentialism, transcendentalism are all difficult ideas for me to grasp. Like trying to grasp campfire smoke in my hand. I can tell I tried because the smokey scent is there, but there is no tangible substance left behind once I open my fist... anyway, Jefferey Brodd lists three paradoxes of the human condition:
- Our imaginations can take us anywhere, but our physical bodies can't.
- We are capable of the kindest, most noble things, but we are also capable of the most horrible and terrifying things.
- Humans hope for everlasting life, but are always inventing new ways to destroy each other
I related these things to the idea of a Natural Man, something bringing us down and that keeps us from obtaining what we want most. Personally, I struggle with waking up early. I like my sleep and find that sleep comes easiest in the late morning. My struggle with the natural man is making the goal to wake up at a reasonable hour and then when my alarm goes off, consciously turning it off and justifying sleeping another hour or two (or three). To overcome these mediocre trials in my life would be transcending, an emphasis on perfecting oneself. Right? Although, wikipedia (reliable site) says "Transcendentalism transcends imagination over reason, and inuition over fact." Meaning...........? What exactly? Imagination and intuition have greater value than reason and fact? Or is this statement taken out of context and meant to apply to the idea of transcendentalism and religion? That would make sense - although you can make a religious argument based on reason and fact, few will believe without being able to have a prompting of the spirit (some might view this as personal intuition).