Monday, December 7, 2009

Book: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind is a fantastic fantasy (hur hur, pun intended) novel by Patrick Rothfuss. It is the first of a trilogy, and I am *so* excited for the second book, whenever it manages to make its way out. Rothfuss has such a way with words, and manages to evoke the most powerful, wonderful descriptions of everything from music to PTSD.

I just wanted to type up a section that I found particularly profound:

Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.

First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind's way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.

Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying "time heals all wounds" is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.

Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.

Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.

In the interest of not spoiling this book for anyone who is interested in reading it in its fabulous entirety (you should!), I'm going to quote more of the book, but heavily ellipsed.

[After a trauma occured] I wandered deep into the forest and slept. My body demanded it, and my mind used the first door to dull the pain. The wound was covered until the proper time for healing could come. In self-defense, a good portion of my mind simply stopped working--went to sleep, if you will.

While my mind slept, many of the painful parts of the previous day were ushered through the second door. Not completely. I did not forget what had happened, but the memory was dulled, as if seen through thick gauze. If I wanted to, I could have brought to memory [details about the trauma]. But I did not want to remember. I pushed those thoughts away and let them gather dust in a seldom-used corner of my mind.

I dreamed, not of [bad things associated with the trauma], but of gentler things. And slowly the wound began to grow numb....

But enough of quotes-- I'm afraid of giving too much away of a story that should not be spoiled. But so much of this story spoke out to me, with the portrayal of numbness, the repulsion that happens when one tries--whether consciously or subconsciously--to remember things that are not ready to be thought about, triggers, and the general mental and physical changes that occur after one survives a trauma.

It's a beautiful book, and definitely worth reading. It's not entirely trauma-centric, but the portrayal of PTSD is one of the better ones I have encountered in fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment