the sprezzaturist

Now, God be praised, that to believing souls gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.

Category: Literature

Game of Hunger: The Postmodern Dystopic Addiction

The-Hunger-Games-Wallpaper-1280x720

Dystopia is not imposed—it is self-inflicted.  Cultural fascination with dystopian themes is not due to a proper awareness of its cause.  On the contrary, it is utter ignorance of the origins of cultural undoing that prompt our desire to create universes more dystopian than our own.  There is a certain comfort in knowing that our world is not yet as dysfunctional as it could be. This knowledge gives us leave to simultaneously entertain ourselves with the desperate courage of the characters we imagine, and find an excuse for us to refrain from exercising courage in our own lives. Granted, we feel inspired, even courageous, when watching an imaginary hero or heroine in a life and death struggle. This world we create, dystopian though it may be, is what we dream of—an opportunity to be a hero, an opportunity to prove ourselves to the world, an opportunity to lead boldly and fearlessly. We exit our dystopian fantasy comforted by the knowledge that it is extraordinary, other-worldly circumstances that make heroes out of ordinary people.

If we fancy ourselves particularly intellectual, we may spend a few moments at the conclusion of our dystopian adventure pondering whether we would be a hero if confronted by the same circumstances as our fictional hero or heroine. We may even have a moment of self-reflection during which we question our abilities, and perhaps acknowledge the doubt we rightly feel about our ability to imitate the heroes we admire.

It is in those moments of pseudo-profundity that we make the error that we have just convinced ourselves that we would never make.  The heroes of a fantasy dystopia help us believe that we would do the same were we in their position. The heroes convince us that if we were confronted with the struggle they face, whether totalitarianism, anarchy, or another form of tyranny, we would be as courageous as they are. Until we are faced with a momentous challenge, or a dystopian society, we feel that our need for courage is diminished.  Our courage, both personal and collective, is sadly unused.  We have been inoculated against courage, by imbibing the belief that courage is not for the ordinary person, until they are confronted with an extra-ordinary challenge. It is this mindset that paves the way for the dystopia we perversely admire. Courage must be exercised every day, in small ways and in minor decisions.  Our admiration of courage in our own fantasies has given us an excuse to neglect its application in our personal lives, and collectively in our society.

The roots of dystopia are already visible. Entertaining ourselves with fantasies of courage in worlds even more dysfunctional than our own should not be an excuse to ignore the opportunities for courage that face each of us every day.

– BW

Advertisements

The Greatest Task

cropped-open_your_eyes_by_vhm_alex.jpg

The greatest task doth fast approach,
Prepared to rain its great reproach.
And all who hazard thru its path,
Feign their strength to meet its wrath.

We oft assuage our conscience mean,
With careful rage we stroke it clean.
The demons arch their back of thorns,
As felinae all others scorns.

So battle plods into the braegen,
And on it prods old fears to waken.
Waken, but, too soon while sleeping,
The demons rise, all saneness reaping.

Now morning grasps its being new,
No beauty found within its dew.
For spheres of silver that once shone,
Now lift aloft a heavy tone.

The beads that clothed the earth in beauty,
Now press the mind, tribute to duty.
The drops that know the past as thankless,
Are monument to dwelling anxious.

A glance ahead, time doth remain!
The siren call begins to wane.
Apathy its cushions branding,
All enthrallment now commanding.

Incumbancies doth evanesce,
As body, soul crave common rest.
And sublunary lusts’ elation,
Takes a hold in domination.

But then the words of others spoken,
Serve to render languor broken.
Refreshing anew to faculty,
Our duty’s true utility.

And zeal again doth raise its head,
The aspiration not left dead.
Our calling now, though momentary,
Will serve the goal auxiliary.

Thanks be for duty, it’s eye restored,
That life’s true end be not ignored.
And purpose summed as glory given,
That good works be not vainly striven.

So must we search our recondite soul,
Insuring aims be utmost whole.
For tempting tis the want to amble,
To a fray on which to gamble.

The pen is mighty o’er the sword,
Yet scorned of those who cherish war.
Let war come only when demand,
Be stout so to oblige the hand.

(“And that relates?” they all might ask,
“Art thou much prone to wag the flask?”)
They all will scorn who know not truth.
Twas mere a fable on the tooth.

So the moral of the extract be,
Consider well that thou dost see:
Duty excludes an insensible bask,
Contented diligence is the greatest task.

-JW