Wednesday, October 24, 2007

King Koan

In today's Dark Tower post, Sean Collins is writing about the revised version of The Gunslinger:

[W]orst of all, he's not just revising for information; he's revising for style! He can explain it however he wants, but apparently he's made the book's prose sound more like something he'd write today. I'm sure even bigger King fans than myself would agree that's not necessarily a good thing, especially when that original style, so different from anything else King had ever written, was what made the first version of The Gunslinger such a stand-out. [bolding mine]

So, the question is - and maybe we can call this a Geek Puzzle or even a Geek Koan - who would really be the bigger fan: the fan who sticks by King with ferocious loyalty no matter where he and his style go or the fan who sticks by King's original work with ferocious loyalty no matter how King's own opinion of it changes over time?

Obviously, feel free to substitute Dan Clowes or Steven Spielberg or Bob Dylan for Stephen King if that helps you contemplate the question.

3 comments:

Sean said...

The people who go with whatever King (or whoever) thinks NOW are the bigger geeks. They believe that the creator-god is always right, right now. It's like, in 1984, you're a better member of the Party if you believe what Big Brother says TODAY, not what he said three weeks ago if that differs from what he's saying today.

James said...

I completely agree. I have a friend who is this way about George Lucas. Try to tell him that there are storytelling faults (i.e., lousy pacing, lack of emotional engagement, pathetically stunted conception of human emotions) in the prequels just meets with complete incomprehension. Lucus did it; even his wrong choices are right. And did you see those spaceships??

If this is a Geek Koan, Roshi Jon, this grasshopper submits that it focuses the mind on the nature of Geek-ness in media choice: the preference for minutiae over substance, or perhaps, the inability to perceive the substance for the minutiae.

Also: please tell me you're kidding with him re-writing The Gunslinger. That's far and away the best thing he's ever written. It was my first King book. Whenever I'm like, "Yeah, Stephen King you kind of suck," the 14-year-old me says, "Screw you, The Gunslinger is tight, tight, tight. Nobody could write that but Stephen King." Agh. At least now I can dismiss him with a clean conscience.

Jon Hastings said...

Yes - I did mean it to be that kind of koan.

With that in mind (and to play devil's advocate):

What about that other kind of fan: the one who, instead of treating the creator's word like scripture, feels (often in a very passive-aggressive way) that he knows better than the creator: people who get apopletic over the idea that maybe Han didn't shoot first or think that Dan Clowes betrayed his audience when he went "serious"?

Or, to take an example from my blog, how about this piece about Chewing Gum in Church?