Saturday, February 7, 2009

How It All Started

It's officially been one year since I started my blog. As the days grow closer to publication, it's been a time of reflection. The "Music of the Night" never ends. After a few posts, I put a tracker on the site from Google Analytics just to see if anybody was reading. The tracker reports the number of visitors, country location, referring websites, keywords, etc. Below are some astounding statistics:
  • People from 95 countries worldwide have visited the blog.
  • Referrals from other websites/blogs total 279
  • 3,906 unique search terms were entered directing individuals to my site.
It's difficult for me to "phantom" the continued popularity of this story. When individuals use search engines, they enter all sorts of keywords on some particular aspect of the story, whether it's a character, place, or thing. It's not the popularity of this blog that astounds me. On the contrary, if it wasn't for the popularity of the Phantom of the Opera, I'm sure there would be little notice of my posts.

My book contains how I started this journey on Blogger. It is the "Introduction," which I have posted below. I hope you enjoy.

"He had let go of me at last and was dragging himself about on the floor, uttering terrible sobs. And then he crawled away like a snake, went into his room, closed the door and left me alone to my reflections.”

Gaston Leroux published Fantôme de l’Opera in 1910. One hundred years later, the basic premise of the story is a worldwide phenomenon. Published in a variety of forms and immortalized on stage and film, the story never dies. Writers continue to pen sequels, websites and forums continue to inundate the Internet, literature students dissect its hidden meaning in the classroom, and scholars and psychologists publish commentaries.

Until January of 2008, I ignored the story of The Phantom of the Opera. Never required to read the original work in high school or junior college, I only knew it was a story about some creepy man who lived underneath an opera house. I found no interest in pursuing the literature or watching older film versions. In addition, I never attended a stage production in my entire life, so the thought of seeing Webber’s play did not enter my mind.

One day while surfing the Internet, I came across a small three-minute clip of the 2004 movie of The Phantom of the Opera. After watching, my curiosity was finally aroused, especially after feasting my eyes on handsome Gerard Butler. I decided to rent the DVD of the Webber/Schumacher movie. Like anyone else, I popped a bag of microwave popcorn, sat on my green recliner in my living room, lifted my leg rest, and pushed play. The next two hours profoundly touched my heart, and I became obsessed with the story. The movie did not satisfy my hunger. I purchased Gaston Leroux’s original version, devoured it in a few days, and cried over Erik’s pleading words:

“I am not really wicked. Love me and you shall see! All I wanted was to be loved for myself.”

After numerous dabs of tissues catching my blubbering tears, I knew I loved the story. It touched the core of my heart, and after reading that 100,000,000 people worldwide have flocked to see The Phantom of the Opera on stage, I felt compelled to write about the characters, emotions, sets, and music that burst with symbolism.

Out of a fluke, I started a blog on Google’s Blogger entitled, “Lessons from The Phantom of the Opera” (http://thephantomslessons.blogspot.com). When I did so, I did not intend to make a big deal about the site. The blog was a place to dump my thoughts, as most blogs are. I chose the pen name of the Phantom’s Student. After all, the Phantom was the great tutor and Christine Daaé the student.

Fifty posts later, 28,000 hits from 95 countries worldwide, as I pen this introduction, the blog has grown beyond my wildest imaginations. For me, The Phantom of the Opera is a psychological playground. By no means am I psychologist. I am just a human being having searched my entire life for unconditional love. Redemption and longing for acceptance is the major theme throughout the story, and I believe that is why so many people relate to the Phantom’s plight.

I have written Lessons from The Phantom of the Opera from my heart. It is how the story reveals itself to me and contains my own reflections. It is free from the influence of other commentaries regarding its hidden meanings. I have poured my heart into dissecting every morsel of The Phantom of the Opera for an entire year. Where research was required on any particular subject, especially in the area of psychology, I have noted the sources and given credit where credit is due. There are Biblical references in my articles, because of obvious analogies throughout the story.

My articles touch on the characters, emotions, symbols, and places. I dissect the story from a human standpoint examining all versions, whether it is Gaston Leroux’s original work, Webber’s stage play, or the Webber/Schumacher movie. Some articles are purely informational and include historical background, while others examine the driving motivations of the characters. Inspiration for a variety of subjects birthed from my own life experiences. There is humor and stark honesty woven throughout, along with a few personal confessions. In some articles, I have kept my mask on and in others taken it off. My earlier articles are a bit short, but as you can see, as time progressed and I became more immersed in Leroux’s version they expanded.

You will find that I tend to provoke readers to think, reflect, and apply the scenes and actions to their own lives. At the end of each chapter, I have added a special section entitled, “The View from Box 5.” The section contains a series of questions to spark further thought on your part, as well as an area to write your own personal reflections and application. My views and interpretations are not the final word, by any means, and the story may reveal itself to you differently. It is my sincere hope you will find more inspiration hidden inside the story, as you view it through our own opera glasses from Box 5.

Why am I publishing my blog? It is because you have expressed the desire to see it in written form; and frankly, publishing a book has been my life’s dream. You have inspired me in my journey through your numerous comments and personal emails conveying how the articles move, inspire, and encourage. You have no idea what great joy and purpose it brings to my life.

In closing, I would like to thank the wonderful artists involved in making The Phantom of the Opera: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, and Joel Schumacher, plus many others. A heartfelt thank you to the stars that play the characters we love on stage and in the movie: The Phantom, Christine, Raoul, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Meg, the Managers and others. Of course, Gaston Leroux has long since passed away. It is a shame he does not know the ultimate success of his work. If he were alive today, I would be the first to give him a standing ovation for penning this timeless masterpiece, and I am sure you would join me.
Happy reading and reflection; and remember, you are loved!

“I am loved for my own sake.”

Erik, Gaston Leroux’s Fantôme de l’Opera

The Phantom’s Student

1 comment:

Orandon Marie said...

You are so cute!

Well you definitely inspire me to want to start planning a Paris trip! Perhaps the catacombs are not all that romantic once you get there?
; -)

Thank you again for your work and research on this blog.
-Orandon