Posts Tagged ‘characters’

A Filthy Lie

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

So many people take comfort in mythology and metaphysics and wish-thinking. It’s never more clear than in the wake of some horrific event or another.

An earthquake will destroy a city, a tsunami might ravage a coast, and what one begins to hear are the half-whispered reassurances that it all belongs to a plan. No matter the tragedy, this or that system has it all worked out. Never mind that a plan (or omniscience, for that matter) would negate free will entirely, just trust that someone’s arms will be unfolded when you fall from the hill. If they aren’t, trust that there’s a pillow at the bottom.

It’s interesting that we don’t hear this more often about the smaller, more grating mishaps that manage to slime on by in silence. What about the lives of “quiet desperation” Thoreau mentioned?

I’ve noticed a largely agreed-upon fact that no one seems to mind, or they throw up their hands in helplessness when asked about it. It’s this: Most people aren’t happy. Most people hate their lives or are too trampled to realize that they should.

Be you one of the millions starving or dying of disease, be you a soul-sucked trailer-trash simpleton, or be you a stock-broker so high strung that hanging yourself would be a redundancy, most of the people in this world are unhappy most of the time.

How many people do you know that genuinely love their work? How many even like it? Odds are good that you spend most of your waking time doing something that not only fails to bring your bliss into focus, but also sinks your joy battleship. A disturbingly high number of people are miserable creatures much of the time; they’ve just gotten used to it.

If it is indeed, part of a plan, then I think we can agree it’s a terrible one. I, for one, would rather risk ruining whatever climax the plan had in mind than live my life in some partially denied, mostly dishonest, unreal, deterministic depression. It’s for this reason that I’ve written characters that step off the path.

The sense of fate can make boredom out of saving the universe -who cares what you do if it was decided for you? And pure, free thought seems impersonal, unguided, a bit forced, maybe.  

I wanted creatures whose existence was more complex than either of these philosophies. When every path is blocked, they move in the wide-open direction of dimensions that dance on the edge of our recognition.  Happiness might just live in the blind spot of our mirror angles. Our compasses are broken. As much as we benefit from the ideas of others, our own lack of creativity and perspective limits us.

For the sake of my own development (and maybe yours too), I’ve worked very hard at giving the reader multi-dimensional beings that move so far from the trivial roads that the normal becomes almost unrecognizable to them. The lines of reality so myriad and overlapping that the original, droll black and white parallels have succumbed to an ultraviolet spiral leading . . . well, nowhere in particular. Nowhere pre-ordained, but certainly not somewhere accidental either. And that’s the point.

Our lives and attitudes are manifestations of what we’ve come to accept about the nature of ourselves, and our limitations. We’ve convinced ourselves that we exist only within certain parameters, beyond which is nothing. That’s the lie.

My characters exist in that nothing, leaving marks on the rocks so that when we eventually get there, we’ll know that someone came along before us and moved farther still, on ahead.