A Thrown Fist Always Hurts The Hand
Some really nasty business went down in Boston yesterday, as I’m sure we all know. It’s tough stuff, and as I said yesterday on Twitter, it becomes easy to fall into the trap of cynicism and suspicion, fear and finger-pointing, but for me it’s about trying to pull away from those baser instincts and look to the people doing so much good immediately after the shit hits the fan. (That proven Mister Rogers quote about “looking for the helpers” is one I’ll share with my son when he’s old enough to parse this sort of thing.
Yesterday I said a related thing, which was, “The evil of a handful of fuckos cannot be allowed to outweigh the love the lion’s share of us can and do feel for one another.” Patton Oswalt said a similar thing (I’d link but I’m writing this from my iPad in a hotel room in Florida): “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerence of fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good will always outnumber you, aand we always will.’”
I ruminated a little too on the images of violence that spring up after this sort of thing — on the one hand, I think seeing the realities of war and violence is useful if only so it turns us away from any potential bloodthirst we may have. On the other hand, I don’t know that it works that way, particularly when images that trend toward gore porn end up in front of us without warning — stuff like that can trigger some deep emotional responses in people, including depression or PTSD
Someone then responded on Twitter with an interesting question of whether or not I feel bad about the violence in my fiction, and my thought then and now was, well, that’s a bit different, isn’t it? Violence in fiction is, first of all, fiction. But it’s generally expected — we read a crime novel or a horror novel, that violence is usually part and parcel. And in the realm of fiction, violence can be framed by context and informed by consequence.
Or, more to the point, it should be. And that, I think, is what I want to say, here — in fiction, violence even in silly pulp material is best when it has some sense of consequence behind it. It isn’t just candy-floss or cartoon fun — a fist thrown always hurts the hand. Things happen as a result to violence. Sometimes good things. But something always bad, too. Even in the Dinocalypse series I try to inform the pulp action with a sense of cause-and-effect; the pulp heroes aren’t violent because they like it, they’re driven to it because that’s sometimes how you stop the bad guy. But even still there exists a kind of lightly erosive, corrrosive component to it — like I said, even if that is just so simple as a hand that hurts after throwing a punch.
Anyway, random thoughts here — apologies for the slap-dash nature of it, but such is the way of hammering together a post while on a trip. I’ll be back home later today (well, much, much later today), so, see you on the other side.
EDITED TO ADD: If you want to do something for Boston, beware scam charities or “RT this and we’ll donate” nonsense. Best option right now is to donate to the Red Cross or donate blood — though I don’t suspect that the blood will go to Boston.