Friday, November 12, 2010
No More Prayers, No More Platitudes
Here’s the thing: I don’t believe in platitudes or prayer or “sending out good vibes”. I don’t think that “supporting the troops” or “caring about children” makes you special. I don’t believe that the world is going to change if you only think good thoughts and don’t worry about it. I also don’t believe that love conquers all, or that good guys always win in the end or that there’s a reward or a punishment after we’re dead. I don’t believe in spirit guides or guardian angels.
And I don’t believe that my fiction should reflect any of that horseshit.
I compromise every day. Every single day. I smile politely when someone says they’re gonna pray for all the poor folks in Haiti instead of actually, I don’t know, DOING something. I say “Good for you” when I see a bumper sticker urging us to support the troops when, come on, man, what else am I gonna do? NOT support them? I nod sympathetically when someone espouses on how we should think of the children, why isn’t anyone thinking of the children, when it seems obvious to me that only sociopaths don’t care about children, so why mention it?
I do all this every day because I have to in order to maintain the semblance of normal relations and peace. But really, I find it all rather idiotic.
So when you tell me that my fiction is too dark, too pessimistic, all I can tell you is: surely there’s a Dr. Seuss book around somewhere for you, yes?
I should make it clear that I’m not generally a cranky, unhappy guy-- in fact, I’m pretty cheerful most of the time. I’m a cynic, sure, but honestly, that’s not so bad, is it? We could benefit from MORE cynics in the world, I think. But my writing tends to reflect my belief that none of this really means anything at all… and that it’s okay that it doesn’t. On our trip through this world we have to be sure to pack our own meaning along with the toothbrush, but we can’t be surprised when our personal meaning turns out to have no relevance whatsoever to anyone else.
I’ll play the game in my day-to-day life, though, because NOT playing it takes a lot more energy, and comes with nothing but misunderstandings.
In my fiction, though, I’m the one who makes the rules. In my fiction, I get to call out the emptiness behind your platitudes, the pointlessness of your prayers. This is as close as I can come to a sort of manifesto.