Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics

A Sane Man Can Take You as Easily as a Crazy One — August 31, 2012

A Sane Man Can Take You as Easily as a Crazy One

An extraordinary spectacle!

“. . . the human subject was merely an acquiescent servant to external anxiety . . . ”

The sense of The Melancholy of Resistance, Hungarian novelist Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s inexorable and massive story of the destruction of a suburban Hungarian town, is probably similar to that of being immobilized in the path of an oncoming steamroller. A sensual and surreal revelation of the apocalyptic forces existing within the human mind, the story swings around the riddle of “resistance” and the pliancy of human consciousness.

Resistance is, on one level, the conscious revolt against those qualities of life which it finds distasteful. In this way, resistance is represented by efforts in charity, ethics, art, intellectualism, renovation, idealism, etc.

But as events continue and become more dire, that layer of meaning is burnt away by external forces too monumental for the conscious mind or the body to command. These seemingly worthwhile exertions become empty, and in their place, “resistance” becomes the revolt of the unconscious mind’s against reality, the avoidance of the truth that it has no control, and that it cannot stop itself, much less an entire town, from burning. “Resistance” is not only reactive and evasive, it is futile.

It’s dramatic irony encased within a single brain. The conscious believes that it is seeking truth by resisting “evil” but is only fighting its own shadow, the inability of the subconscious to deny anything, the truth, its own death.

The story strips the characters of all of their illusions, even the one that there could be a life without illusion. One of my short plays touches on some of these themes so I decided to rewrite it, but with the above quote in mind. What a disturbing idea: that without ever realizing it, our minds give themselves over to outside forces. Not radical except in how far Krasznahorkai takes the concept.

A Sane Man Can Take You As Easily As a Crazy One

We are, successively, in the ribs of a halved whale; in a cluttered office; and on the roof of a house sinking under water.

The ribs of a halved whale. In the back of the ribs is a window. Outside of that window we see only sky. X, a doctor of philosophy (he wears a medical doctor’s white) looks out of the window. He is a calm man in increasingly anxious circumstances. Downstage is Y, a corpse. X turns and addresses the audience.

Leviathan

X: We are the victims of external anxieties. Anxieties we will never fathom. Is the air anxious? Is the sea? Is it simply me? It makes no sense for me to be anxious. Anxiety only makes you struggle and sink – I would only be anxious if there was something anxious outside of me actually channelling its anxiety into me. Something with much more at stake than a single life.

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LETS TALK ABOUT TIME BABY — August 13, 2012

LETS TALK ABOUT TIME BABY

When time travelling, be sure to dress iconically

Shh!

Don’t you see what’s going on? The Doctor is facing his biggest challenge yet. Time has collapsed. Churchill is prime minister, Roman chariots are chilling at the stoplights, and Charles Dickens is telecasting an interview. If he doesn’t find a way to reverse time and repair the broken fixed point, then all of time will dissolve into the void.

Of all the guilty pleasure television out there, Doctor Who is one of the best. Space aliens and monsters, witty companions, clever technological fast-talk, a time-traveling police box, and a manically upbeat protagonist with more brains than brawn and a dislike for violence and weapons: what more quality can you possibly cram into a 45-minute show?

My answer to that question is: deep analytical inquiry. Though I don’t actually believe that what happens on the show is real, unlike some crackpots out there, there are some fun theories that are suggested. After all, when writing about time-travel, especially for a show as wacky and no-holds-barred as Doctor Who, the writers are forced to answer some questions. What happens when you go back and meet yourself? Doesn’t changing the littlest moment in the past alter your own future irrevocably?

How do the writers explain away their erratic games of time? None of us can pretend that we understand it all of the time, or even that it always makes sense. But unlike shows like Lost, which utterly abandon any intention of making sense in the quest to wrap up the script, Doctor Who tends to really play with the elasticity of time in a thought-provoking way, to create universal rules, and attempt to explain it if those rules are bent. How far, after all, can you bend time before it snaps?

I’m going to poke at a couple of particularly bizarre time-bending moments in the Doctor Who reboot and attempt to explain why they don’t, after all, snap.If you’re coming to this without much Doctor Who under your belt, or you’ve watched the first couple of seasons of the reboot and haven’t finished it yet, I find myself compelled to say just this before I go on.

Spoilers, sweetie.

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