Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What are we really watching?

I read an article about the TV drama Heroes this morning (here's the link but don't read it if you didn't watch last night's episode) and it reminded me of Joseph Campbell's "secret cause." Campbell once said that literature, art, music becomes successful when it connects with the "secret cause" we all instinctively recognize and remember--and long for. The secret cause is not about the particulars of a show or creation but rather about what they elicit in us, the energies, desires, memories deeply held in our being that are awaiting recognition.

This paragraph in the article fascinated me: "As any geek worth his or her eight-sided dice knows, science fiction is always a blatant metaphor for something human and real. For example: “Star Trek” (social morality), current “Battlestar Galactica” (current political climate) and “X-Men” (racism/bigotry)."

Do you agree with that idea? I had never connected Star Trek with social morality! To me most of the stories seemed to be able the triumph of good over evil; the struggle and responsibility power brings; the division between logical and emotive worlds. But social morality? I'm going to have to go back and watch some of those reruns!

I'd be interested to hear what some of you think about that, if you'd like to leave a comment.

[btw, Happy Thanksgiving!]

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How to Live

"How to Live" by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog. © Red Hen Press.

How to Live
"I don't know how to live."
–Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."