First, I feel the need to define "obsession"… it's a tricky word after all. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad – I have the bad habit of using it inappropriately. So, here:
1. The domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself
3. the state of being obsessed
4. the act of obsessing
This definition comes courtesy of Dictionary.com, and it doesn’t sound all that bad to me.
Try this one:
1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety
2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or compulsion
That one’s from the American Heritage Dictionary, and, I dunno, I get a negative spin from it, don’t you? I think this definition applies to the medical use of the word, which leads directly to obsessive compulsion, which I gather is not so good. I’m particularly intrigued by the use of the word unwanted, because it implies that all obsessions are bad, and maybe they are if taken to an unhealthy degree. But obsession, in its benign form (which I think the first definition captures quite well), is one of my favorite things in the world.
There’s so much garbage to digest in the world. Excuse me if I sound like that dude who yammers away, often unintelligibly, at the end of every episode of 60 minutes, but I can’t help but agree with him when he says that the world is becoming more and more difficult to take in. It doesn’t matter what you’re into – sports, music, video games, underwater basketweaving – the internet age is one that never gets tired, never shuts up, and never gets old. Nothing is obsolete and nothing is obscure.
All of these ideas, images, desires, and feelings are constantly coming straight at our faces. They’re like bugs, and we’re the windshields. How do our powerful yet easily distracted brains cope with so much stimulation? My theory is: by fixation. Every so often, my mind catches something as it whirrs past, and I just have to attack it. I want to sink my claws into it and hold it and play with it, because I know in the back of my mind that if I had blinked at the wrong time, or perhaps been looking in a different direction, I might have missed it. Very little surprises me nowadays, but when something does, it feels so very once-in-a-lifetime.
Maybe our brains are yearning for a little focus. Maybe they’re just dizzy. The point is: every brain enjoys being fixated every once in a while. It makes the world stand still just long enough so that the brain can do what it was born to do… learn.
Speaking for myself, I’m a serial obsessive. When something catches my interest or sparks my imagination, I’ll spend hours learning everything I can until I get tired. I’d like to say that these periods last longer than an evening, but most of the time they don’t. But on those rare occasions when something captures me for days, weeks, months… God, I cherish them, because, to put it simply, they make the hands on the clock turn.
Here’s the meme part… 5 obsessions that I’ve had, and if and when they’ve ever caused me embarrassment.
2. Reality TV
3. R. L. Stine
4. The Lord of the Rings
5. Jean Claude Van Damme
I will never ever be ashamed of my obsession with Madonna. It doesn’t even embarrass me to admit out loud to you that I’ve read not one, but two of her biographies. I own every album, and I’ve seen every movie. For the record, most of her movies suck – just because I’m obsessed doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. Evita, however, is sublime, and she’s sublime in it. Anyway, the only instance that could come close to embarrassment would be the time I get into a verbal sparring match with some asshole about Madonna and her contributions to popular culture. Believe or not, Madonna can be a polarizing topic, and in retrospect, it was probably silly that the argument got so heated. I don’t feel strongly about many things, but I will fight a bitch for disrespecting my girl.
Reality TV is another thing I for which I can’t apologize. I just love it. I don’t necessarily love all Reality TV shows, but I’m in love with so many of them that I feel obligated to claim the entire genre. The only time I get embarrassed would be those times when people look down on me. I’m lucky to have a co-worker in the office that loves most of the same shows as I, so we spend a good bit of time watercoolering in the morning. Everyone else in the office looks upon us with pity, because clearly, we have way too much time and no life AT ALL if we can devote so much thought and energy to a stupid reality show. Look, it ain’t Shakespeare, but it IS fun and entertaining. I love the idea of rooting for people who aren’t perfect, and hating rotten people without fear of retribution. Also, I’m a huge, HUGE fan of schadenfreude, and there is NEVER a shortage of that on these shows. I don’t even care about the alleged fixing that every show has been accused of, because seriously, if I cared about crap like that I wouldn’t be watching. Frankly, I’m all for producer tampering – most of the time, it’s all in the name of putting on a better show, and that works for me.
OMG, do you remember R.L. Stine?? Need a hint? Two words: Fear Street. I read every single damn one. If I’m being honest, these books are just awful. I recently reread one of them in one sitting during a visit to my local public library, and I came away with this mixed feeling: revulsion over the horrifically bad writing and a sweet, sweet nostalgia that made me a little misty. I’ve always had a healthy appreciation for art that is so bad it’s good, so it’s no wonder I was obsessed with these books in middle school. When everyone else was moving on to Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I was still hopelessly devoted to Fear Street. I did eventually move on, but I remember fondly.
My heart belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. My obsession with all things LOTR is probably my most encompassing, most engrossing, and most unhealthy. I’ve read The Hobbit 25 times, and the fact that I know that number speaks volumes. I’ve read the entire LOTR series 10 times. I own all three movies on Widescreen, and I also own the extended editions. I have all three soundtracks. The extended soundtracks are on my wishlist, and the only reason I haven’t purchased them yet is because I’m waiting for all three to come out so I can buy the boxset. I own the LOTR edition of Trivial Pursuit (I’m unbeaten at this point). I saw each movie twice in theatres, and I stood in line at midnight for the third one. I didn’t dress up because the people who accompanied me threatened to not go if I did, otherwise I would have… totally. I’ve even written fanfic. It’s slash, of course, Sam and Frodo, and really terrible, so no chance of seeing it on this blog… the point is, I wrote it. My obsession has tempered considerably since the last movie came out, but with news of the almost definite production of The Hobbit by Peter Jackson, it will probably be refreshed, renewed, and reprehensible.
Discussing my adoration of Jean Claude Van Damme is really taking me back. I’ve been over him for quite some time, but back in the day, it was extreme, as in… extremely uncomfortable for everyone around me. I fell in love with him after seeing Kickboxer for the first time… and ya’ll, it was love at first spinning kick to the kidneys. Of course, I was in my formative years, so I never spoke of my love for him, but be assured, whenever I said my crush was Kathy Ireland, I was really thinking of JCVD. It is really too bad what happened to him… age has not been kind. But in a weird way, he was my first and I’ll never forget that.
Anyway – I don’t usually do the tagging thing, but this was a really fun meme. I highly recommend you give it a shot.
That's all folks so don't bother to