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Currently watching We Need to Talk about Kevin. I'm having to stop to catch my breath. Swinton and Reilly are brilliant in their disfunctionality. And the slim slip between the child and the changeling is so thin and so real.

Perhaps the nurturing of vipers is something that will go out of fashion as our energy capabilities by necessity shrink. Perhaps we will re-learn the ways of our peasant ancestors, and learn when the convenience of a lie like "faeries stole my child and put this heartless daemon in it's place" needs to be said.

I don't really want to believe it. But I think it may be true. Because creationism is false and Darwinism is closer to fact, and there is a distinct evolutionary advantage in being a psychopath. But the race is not to the swift and survival is not to the fittest. We survive as a species collectively, and sometimes we need to rise up and put away evolutionary aberrations. The only other choice is to get behind them when they clear a path to the future. And when they do? Cyrus. Alexander. Genghis. Tamerlane. Shaka. Napoleon. Bismarck. Hitler. Stalin. Pol Pot.

Disturbing thoughts. Very disturbing film, despite its heavy handed symbolism, its over-dramatic hammering of guilt. I'll probably think less of it tomorrow when I'm out of its spell. But right now, it's pulling second in line to The Wasp Factory.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
asakiyume
Aug. 30th, 2012 01:44 am (UTC)
You're leaping the stones two at a time, and I don't quite follow. I get the point about psychopathology being personally advantageous, but what's this about running behind the path clearers?

Let's just stick with the race not being always to the swift. Because that's *not* thumb sucking; sometimes it's actually, honestly, legitimately true. (Sometimes.)


barry_king
Aug. 30th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh, but that's what's so brilliant about the film. When faced with the Gordion Knot, Alexander unsheathes his sword and hacks it in half. Swindon's character is fully aware of how she is being manipulated. About how Kevin is steamrolling over everything she holds dear. But she is helpless not because she is particularly ill-equipped, but because he is focusing intently on her weaknesses and exploiting them.

But not like a master: Kevin simply says aloud what we all knew as children and didn't say because it hurt and made life uncomfortable or unliveable if we had to admit it every conscious moment. And perhaps that's what psychopaths offer us as a species: a way out from our insoluble conundrums. But the cost is very high, and perhaps we, as a species, not as a person, need psychopaths because they have lost that sense of cost.

Because evolution is random, and although creatures like Kevin and Alexander cut away the dead wood, they do so randomly, like a human atom bomb. They do what we don't dare do, not because it needs to happen, but simply because they dare. But it does need to happen sometimes. Nature doesn't care that the two halves of this dilemma are not connected. Nature simply is, and is happy to fill a vacuum, no matter by what mechanism that vacuum came about.

So here's what I'm saying about path-clearers (and a part of me is jumping up and down to say that Herbert used Kwisatz Haderach for his particular flavour of psycho, and he borrowed a kabbalistic/mystic term: the shortening of the way, which was particularly apt in the description of the psychotic Paul Atreides of Dune Messiah.): There is no compromise behind a person like that. Either you're with him, or you're with the terrorists against him. And if you're with him, you're by necessity behind him. Because there's something in him that will clear a path, no matter who you are. Not for a reason. Simply to clear a path.
asakiyume
Aug. 30th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
You think Paul was psycho?

Admittedly, it's been a while since I read the books.

barry_king
Aug. 30th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
Absolutely. Paul knew Paul was a psycho. That's why I absolutely LOVE Dune Messiah. It was Paul understanding his inherent evil and inability to be a human being and finding a way out of it all. He grappled with that very thing that made him special and unique and, for the betterment of mankind, defeated it.

It's a glorious book. It's a shame that, as the next books showed, it was all in vain. But we are finite as a species, and so our triumphs should also stand against eternity as small things.

But our things, nonetheless.
asakiyume
Aug. 30th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC)
Okay, I read the books in eighth grade, so some of this no doubt went over my head. At *that* time, Dune Messiah was my least favorite--probably/maybe precisely because of the qualities you're describing. I have a feeling I'd appreciate the book much, much more now.

Edited at 2012-08-30 02:52 am (UTC)
barry_king
Aug. 30th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's worth a re-read.

What I love about the series is how much it was about Beverly, and the process of shepherding humanity into adulthood. The desire to see the species "grow up".
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )