Monday, December 19, 2011

and in the darkness bind them

I spent a couple hours last night putting the final touches on the script for my next film project with Austin the Director. It was already decent, I think - the characters were interesting and likable enough - but it wasn't really about anything, so we spent a while talking through what it was I thought the piece was trying to say... which is an Artist's Gobbledygook way of saying that Austin and I argued back and forth about the nature of the universe as our script spiraled ever-downward into cynicism and despair.

In the end, we decided that the point of the story was that romantic relationships are all just complex negotiations of power. It made sense for the story and seemed to fit with both our experiences, but at one point I had to stop Austin and say, "Look, dude, you are remembering that we're not talking here about what people are capable of... just how they generally conduct themselves, right? There are such things as grace and love, you know."

He laughed; maybe agreeing, but perhaps in gentle mockery of my naivete.

Austin thinks people are motivated primarily by pride. He thinks a woman chooses a man by carefully weighing her perception of his power-status within their mutual social group against her perception of her own relative power-status to determine if the match increase her power. He says that a woman wants a man other women find difficult to snag, in order to increase her standing among her peers - and that men do pretty much the same. Once a man and a woman have negotiated that power struggle and made that "relationship" plunge they enter a new realm of power negotiations, which they enact again and again until break-up or death or divorce do them part.

He's right, you know.

Power (or control, if you prefer) is one of our most favoritest human illusions, and we will go to absurd lengths to capture and hold onto it. People are pathetic and stupid and proud and grasping and weak and unloving and graceless; and there really isn't all that much we won't do for a quick hit of pride.

I think that the reason we do this is that we are afraid. We are afraid to be alone. We are afraid to die. We are afraid that deep, deep down, we're just plain un-lovable. And so we do the opposite of love and try to control our situation and other people, believing that with enough power, we can make others love us.

It doesn't work, but there is a better, seemingly counter-intuitive way. We can sacrifice power. We can lift others up, stripping off layer after layer of illusion until all that's left is people loving people. We peoples can do this, together; but we don't, mostly, so my characters don't. They play power games all day and get nowhere closer to what they really want and need - love.

Stupid, pathetic, imaginary people... it's nice to have someone other than myself around to mock every once in a while.

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