Friday, July 24, 2009

I was woken last night by the pattering of the rain, and lay listening to that reassuring sound for a while. I love rain- the sound of water drops splashing, the smell of a gathering storm, even the 'teethy' feel of it on my skin. I also like how everything seems clean after raining. It's something I'm gonna miss when I go abroad to study in slightly less than a month. I think what I'll miss the most is my twin sis. The longest period we've been separated for is one week, so I can't imagine going for one year without seeing her. I've accepted, though, that sometimes you've got to make sacrifices to attain certain goals.

I just finished reading The Beach by Alex Garland. Truth be told, I found the novel too disturbing, but that's just me. The concept is unique and well-developed, and overall it's a darkly fascinating, haunting piece of work and a searing commentary on human psychology. The mood is slightly thriller-like, as even moments of peace are tempered by a sense of lurking danger. I felt that the human dynamics illustrated were similiar to those in the TV series Lost. Maybe the writers of Lost were inspired by it?

The protagonist of the novel is a backpacker in Thailand named Richard, whose true adventure begins when a fellow hotel occupant commits suicide, leaving behind a mysterious map to a mythical 'beach' for him. The beach is claimed to be beautiful and pristine, untouched by human civilization. Given the increasingly crowded beaches of Thailand, that means a great deal to travellers seeking their own private paradise. With the map as their guide, Richard and a young French couple successfully reach the beach, and find a small community of people already living there. They assimilate themselves quite smoothly, and initially it does seem like paradise to them as they forget all about their previous lives. Gradually, though, a series of tragedies occur, and paradise starts turning into hell. The people there live in constant fear of having their secret beach exposed, a fear so strong that they can be savage towards potential threats. Eventually, the place becomes unbearable for Richard and his friends, and they finally manage to leave the beach.

I found it highly ironic that the beach, the supposed paradise they tried so hard to get to, is the one from which they have to escape. In some ways it's even more difficult and dangerous to leave the place than to find it. It just shows how perverse things become. I think it all starts with an innocent desire to possess one's secret space, something probably shared by many. I guess it's never that simple. Even when one wants his or her own private sanctuary, one is forced to share it with others. The secrets and insecurities of individuals, and tensions in human relationships prove to be the community's undoing. The most disturbing part was when they turned on one of their own, viciously attacking him for what they perceived as a betrayal.

I think I need to indulge in more light-hearted content now.

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