Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Do not go gentle into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas

I keep seeing news clips about the new Watchmen film, so I thought I'd go to the library and see if I could find the graphic novel. The plus side of the hard copy, also, is that you can put it down and walk away if needed. And given the nature of the news clips I've been seeing, that would probably be needed. HELLOOOO, DARKNESS AND DEPRAVITY. Ahem. Anyhow, the novel wasn't at the library, but I did find a Daredevil collection, and scanned through it. Of course, just the same as when I was 16 and reading anything I could put my hands on so long as it looked easy, it left me feeling rather like I had been punched in the stomach. 

I'm not really sure if that's the normal reaction to modern graphic novels, or if other people can read them with sweetness and light moods intact- but I sure can't. However, this time, I decided that since I am now in my second decade, I should try and figure out why certain scenes were so gut-churningly awful. This time, I think I've figured it out. 

If the future is mutable, if we are self determinate, then every death is necessarily a tragic, infuriating waste. There are always other options, and death is the ultimate case of squandered potential. Look at this broken body; this was a man, with thoughts and dreams and hopes and a chance for happiness, and it was all taken from him. Betrayal becomes even more intolerable, because of what could have happened. Moreover, these novels thrive off of taking everything to a higher level. People's lives are generally stolen from them in particularly eye-catching fashion. There are more betrayals, more (pointless) deaths, more squandered lives to mock you and your rainbow-coloured hopes. And these things generally happen to, around, and as a result of, the people who are supposed to be the heros, the best of us. Look, this is the best person you can hope to be, and his life isn't any better than yours, at all. The underlying point to drive into your skull is that death is the final insult, and any attempt to look at it in other ways is simply ignoring the truth of the matter and deluding yourself. Our deaths are all wasted.

It is an almost breathtaking logic, given artistic expression.

However. If one starts from a different premise- that the future is fixed, then there is no such thing as a life cut short. All lives, short or long, agonizing or blissful, are exactly the way they were intended to be. That doesn't mean that I can't rage at death, but the shocking pointlessness of it is gone. 

Yes, I know I take comfort in strange things. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to read my rant.

1 comment:

Bahnree said...

That was oddly poetic. Your rant, I mean, not the poem. The poem, btw, is one of my all-time faves. Which should concern me. I mean, I don't exactly share the POV of the speaker, I just....feel a connection. lulz.

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