Saturday, October 06, 2007

A theme I'm fascinated by and hate

Paradise found and lost. Nothing is worse. I prefer themes of apocalypse and devastation over those of hope given and stolen. Give me the comet hitting earth, viral plagues of super-Ebola, a nice zombie holocaust. Something honestly desolate rather than a falsely moral tale about the brevity of happiness and the frailty of human existence.

Two examples: an allegedly classic episode of paleo-Trek. I don't remember all the details because when I was nine or ten and watching a lot of Star Trek I refused to ever watch that episode again. This was as opposed to every other episode, which I saw three, four, or more times each. I'd even turn that fucker off and go outside. That's how much I didn't like it.

It went like this: some kind of planet. Crew goes down. Community of people living an idilic life. Bunch of crewmembers get blasted with plant spores and fall in love with the place. Spock gets blasted and suddenly is happy. He falls in love with a woman, has rolls in the hay, fun. Kirk comes down and beats the shit out of him. They return to the ship and Spock is one way or another "cured". He's back to his emotionless, repressed, stifled, and in control self. The last scene has Spock talking with Kirk and thanking him, but concluding with something like "For a while I was...Happy."

Another example: the novella Flowers For Algernon. I had to read it in first grade (who knows why). A tv movie was later made from it in '78 called Charlie. Retarded guy lives okay life of routine. He has a job at a bakery. Most people around him treat him sort of badly because he's too dim to really know it and will do demeaning things to be laughed at. Somehow he ends up in a medical research program, which has successfully turned a normal rat named Algernon into a genius rat. They perform the same operation on Charlie and soon he gets smarter. Pretty soon he tells his job to shove itself and moves on to better things. He shoots past normal and into geniushood. He and the lovely female experimenter fall in love. Nice stuff happens, he lives life to its fullest. He lectures to crowds on learned subjects and the future is bright, indeed.

Then, Algernon begins to degrade. His intelligence begins to leave him. I think he dies. The same end is obvious for Charlie and despite efforts, begins to slide himself. Before death, his operation is reversed. He becomes dim Charlie once again. His girlfriend leaves him, he goes back to his job, and he fades into a vaguely clueless and vaguely regretful obscurity amidst the rest of the dull normals who welcome him back into their midst.

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