I guess like most anyone alive on the planet, I have pop culture experiences which echo in my life.
I’ll bet most anyone you talk to will have something along the lines of “oh, that was a real insert favorite movie moment” or “that was their ‘Ross and Rachel’ relationship”.
Its interesting to think — did those moments or happenings occur independent of the cultural reference or is connected somehow, was it manifested because of the reference? Do we mirror things we see, just as they were drawn from the writer/creator’s imagination based on their own experience – or experience of an experience and so on and so on.
I know what you are thinking, stop with the weird metaphysical bullshit. Sometimes a thing is just a thing, there’s no meaning to it other than the one you assign to it.
I guess that’s my fatal flaw, thinking too deeply about the significance of events, trying to discern what they are for – perhaps perversely looking into the abyss. But maybe its not a flaw. Maybe it’s a strength.
In 1981, John Boorman brought the legend of Arthur to the screen in Excalibur. There is a line of dialogue during the middle of the film, after Arthur and the knights have successfully united the kingdom, when Merlin charges the knights to remember what they have done:
And look upon this moment.
Rejoice with great gladness.
Remember it, always…
…for you are joined by it.
You are one, under the stars.
Remember it well then, this night…this great victory…so that in the years ahead you can say:
”I was there that night, with Arthur, the King.”
For it is the doom of men that they forget.
I loved Excalibur, the film. Still do. Because it was a visual feast – gaudy, extravagant, epic. It was also mythic, and I will forever be drawn to the mythic. We are steeped in it these days – as we geeks and nerds see more and more of our heroes come to life on the big screen at the rate of six or more superhero films a year. For that’s what the Arthurian Knights were, really, superheroes in plate armor, saving the world from evil.
For the last seven years we have been dealing with a great deal in this country, and in a very real sense may never regain the greatness that once was the hallmark of this nation. I’m not talking about politics here, or morality.
I’m talking about the sense that this was the land of opportunity, the land where you could have not just what you needed to survive, but what you needed to live. Truly live.
I believe that a great many people in this country are just surviving. And that is a terrible way to live.
I’d like to know what other’s think about the following – because I feel it not only applies to me but to many many others as well. please watch this: Smile or Die.
When I was growing up, I was told I had to read a book called The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I’m not sure if I ever did. I think I might have started it, read a few chapters and then put it away. I was fourteen or fifteen maybe and my interests weren’t about the real world then. I was too busy reading about adventures and other worlds to be overly concerned with how a positive mind could help guide or influence my career. What the video representation of the talk says is that: that it’s not really a good thing to think positive all the time. Sometimes, you need to think bad about things.
I’ve run into a number of situations where I was told to “Chin up. Things will get better. Think positive. Something else will come along.”
This was generally in response to my tendency to go inward when dealing with issues, the loss of a job or end of a relationship – to pull pain and disappointment to me and hold it, feel it, completely absorb and then let it slowly drain away. I’ve been told its tough to be around me, that I don’t mask my feelings and so everyone knows when I’m upset or down or sad. And what strikes me about the video is that Western culture (here in the States and In England where my ancestry is from) is all about the Put on a Happy Face, Smile and the World Smiles with You and ‘everything will just get better’ mode of thinking.
Or as Pharrell Williams ubiquitously tells us he’s Happy — and by the way – I love that song 🙂 so don’t think I’m advocating doom and gloom, there is a point to all of this – the second verse speaks volumes I think:
Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offense to you don’t waste your time
Because I’m happy
It doesn’t say to just act like nothing’s wrong, it is in fact saying — bring it, I can take it. I’m not hiding from my worries or troubles or woes. I claim them and I will carry them.
If Barbara Ehrenreich’s speech is correct, then this attitude of positive thinking, this culture of always trying to be upbeat and forcing ourselves to be cheerful when everything around us is falling apart, when every instinct in our bodies is screaming that it isn’t right that there is something terribly wrong – then we should look it straight in the eye. Don’t turn it away, or self-medicate or rush to get a Prozac.
The other thing about her speech that just floored me is the use of the term Vigilant. Man, I’ve written about that before and I really really really need to self-publish that damn superhero story of mine. 🙂
Which bring us back to Merlin and the Doom of Men.
Do not forget that you are meant to be unhappy, meant to be sad, meant to work through all of that – so that when those moments and hours and days of happiness occur, they are ever brighter because of the gloom.
Embrace the storm.
Because it is in the storm that you are alive.