Friday, January 2, 2009

Dark Heroes - First published Sept. 20, 2005 on Live Journal

Last night a thunder storm passed through the desert that kept me awake much of the night. The booms rattled the house and startled the dogs. It even woke the coyotes, whose howls sometimes eclipsed the thunder. Mostly I am afraid of fire during storms such as these, especially if the downpours are short, as it was with this storm. I am also afraid, strangely, of being struck by lightning, even though I know how unlikely that prospect is. So I concentrated on reading to distract me, though the power went out a couple times for a few seconds. I am currently reading Capt. Hook by J.V. Hart, a story about young James Matthew, and how he comes to be that future nefarious pirate. It's really well-written. And James (the future Hook) is an energetic, genius type, and while picked on and abused, has a kind of spirit that makes you realize he wants/needs no pity. Yet, he is a sympathetic character. It is turning into quite an enjoyable read. The character is truly heartening, seeing the world as a play and taking very little of it seriously. It keeps him alive and makes him a hero in the eyes of his peers, though he never thinks of himself that way.

This reminds me of an upcoming movie I am very much looking forward to. "Serenity." If you don't know anything about this topic, well, "Serenity" is the theatrical film continuation of a short-lived space opera series on Sci-fi called "Firefly." My friend Kym convinced me to watch her set of dvds (all 14 episodes) last spring. I agreed to do so because I trusted her judgment that it was actually an excellent show. (Lately I have been suspicious of anything sf oriented, or from the sci-fi channel for that matter.) Subsequent to watching it and heartily enjoying it, I found out it was actually critically acclaimed and has a huge fan-base even though it was taken off-air in the middle of its first year (for reasons no one knows.) Later, I got my own set of the dvds and have watched it again, and it is even better the second time through. Anyway, there is a point to all this babble, in that the series reminds me of Capt. Hook (the book) in a way because it is about underdogs surviving. It is about atypical heroes, space-traveling smugglers or pirates for lack of a better term, about real people surviving on the fringe or, as the creator of the series, Joss Whedon has said, and I paraphrase, people Kirk and the Enterprise would have passed right over and never even seen. While I grew up suckling at the wickedly obsessive teat of Star Trek and have no regrets for it, I really must admit I love stories that center on people who say the things and do the things I always wished my Trek heroes would do...but didn't. Like instead of negotiating with the terrorist, just friggin' shoot him. Don't leave him alive to come back and kill your best friend in a later episode of revenge is a dish best served cold. No. Take care of it now if you can. Right now. And don't pretend that the horrible situation you find yourself in has anything to do with civilized behavior or rules, or the maintenance thereof. Survival means doing what needs to be done, or you don't survive. If you are living in the underbelly of society, there are no judges, no courts, and really no law. It's not really about being civilized at all. But then again, it is a reinvention of civility based on much more immediate needs, because you can only find your real heart and your own truths through distancing yourself from the societal programs. The characters in "Serenity" and "Firefly" are almost even more alive and real as a result, and their loyalty and their hearts are very human, which is why it is so good. They are not without flaws, and not every character is "nice," but the situation reminds me of Han Solo who did the right thing in the end because he could, and because he really did have a human heart. One quote from one of the characters: "A hero is a person who gets other people killed." I LOVE that. I can't help it. And when something tweaks my thinking from its usual tilt, I can and do often enjoy the view from the other side. It's fun. It turns ordinary on its head. I like that. I remember a quote at the beginning of the original Star Wars novel by George Lucas, that actually would work for "Serenity," too. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes."

Something I recently watched all of again, that turned everything on its head, was that old 1960s Patrick McGoohan series, "The Prisoner." McGoohan is a genius, seer, poet, prophet, etc. I still can't believe how special and strange and wondrous that show was, and how the so-called "heroes" of "The Prisoner's" reality actually became his worst enemies, which is probably the mystery of why he resigned his secret agent job in the first place. Anyway, there's a lesson in all this somewhere, like perhaps going with flow of the crowd because it's easier and you don't have to think might just turn you into a lemming. On that note, I must tilt my own head, again, and sleep.

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