Maybe Just A Little More Time

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Sep
  • 14
  • 2006

When I place a difficult text in front of students, I expect them to come to class in 24 hours ready to discuss and begin the digestion process. Maybe they need more time.

As a kid, I remember the urgent bike ride home from the library over the summer. I checked out the record of The Wall, anxious to get home and listen to this music I’d heard so much about. Pink Floyd's classic, The Wall In addition to my memory of fantastic artwork, which very probably gave me nightmares but remains some of my favorite, the weight of the songs stuck with me for years, but for not much more reason than sheer fascination. At least consciously. When I came back to that album in high school, this time on two tapes instead of two records, I listened to it on a regular basis. Then, I didn’t listen to the entire thing in one sitting for years. I couldn’t; it was just too much. It became something that resonated with me far more than I initially thought possible back when I borrowed it from the library. Now, I consider that one of the greatest albums of all time.

Nine Inch Nails hit it on the head with The Downward SpiralThe same thing happened when I listened to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. At first, I didn’t get it and rejected it, not feeling any emotional weight of the concept. Then I listened to it in snippets and pieces for a while before listening to the entire thing in one sitting. After that, I didn’t listen to the album again for probably 10 years. Again, I couldn’t and didn’t need to. Now, The Downward Spiral also sits on my list of all-time greats, right next to The Wall.

The emotional remnants of both works haunted me for a long time, so much so that I didn’t even need to listen to the albums to revisit those feelings.

And, with both albums, I wasn’t ready for them when I first heard them. My much younger self, dusting off record 2 (side 3 for those of you counting) of The Wall, couldn’t really comprehend everything that Waters and Gilmore were going for. I appreciated the music, I knew it was something significant, but I didn’t quite get it at the time. When I first heard bits of The Downward Spiral, I wrinkled my nose. “Heresy” was the first song I heard. “Who’s the guest singer? Prince?” I asked my friend, the one who blared it on the radio of his Mazda 626 on our drive home from work. That same friend offered me his spare ticket to the concert a few weeks later. I didn’t go. Just about once a month, even to this day, I kick myself for that.

My list of experiences like this goes on and on: Pearl Jam’s Ten, Todd Solondz’s Happiness, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Broken Social Scene’s feel good lost, Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Within the past few months, it’s also happened with David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

Sometimes we aren’t ready to digest what’s been placed in front of us. That doesn’t mean we are incapable and it doesn’t mean we will never come to love it, as I have for all of those things listed above.

Maybe just a little more time.

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