it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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Epiphany. Stories. Epiphany stories.

Does it still count as an epiphany story if your protagonist's epiphany is out of sync with the Hollywood approved zeitgeist of the times?

I'm thinking, in an odd sort of way, that this may be the problem with the marketability of certain stories of mine that I love, and which my first readers mostly love, and which I cannot sell to save my life. Because they're epiphany stories, but they're very Yankee sort of epiphany stories, by which I mean, oh, the epiphany tends to be along the lines of "Good fences make good neighbors," or "Love people, but don't expect too much of them," or "Water doesn't flow uphill" or "Pick the hill you want to die on, because you only get to die on one," other similarly practical but not particularly uplifting things.

And that interests me. Because the overwhelming cultural message we're handed is that a healthy personality encompasses certain things: openness, trust, an ability to give one's self up to reliance on others. I'm thinking of the Sean Connery movie Finding Forrester as an example, and how the movie revolves around the idea that Forrester has to rely on other people and permit them to take care of him to be a complete person.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that in my life experience, when I've relied on other people to take care of me, I've inevitably wound up in worse circumstances--ranging from 'inconvenienced' to 'taken advantage of' to 'utterly screwed'--than if I'd just done the work and been self-sufficient in the first place. And I don't feel like an incomplete person. I'm not lonely or tormented or unable to form deep friendships and maintain a long-term emotional bond.

But I'm also unlikely to offer anybody an encompassing baton of trust any time soon. The way to get what you want is to see to the details yourself, rather than relying on somebody else to do it for you. "Love people, but don't expect too much of them."

So is that still an epiphany story, even if it doesn't have the Hollywood cachet of "No man is an island?"

(Not, mind you, that I argue that any man is an island. Or that it's healthy for him to be so. Because that way lies the Unabomber cabin in the woods. And even in these days of Abu Ghraib and Ahmed Chalabi and the US of A sliding into police-statedom with the inexorable ugliness of water piling up behind a flood gate [see below] I still find that, like Kurt Vonnegut, I have an annoyingly incorrigible love of individual people, even when the whole heaving mob of humanity is prone to making me a little seasick.)

In other news, I'm thunking about punctuated equilibrium, in social evolution as well as physical evolution, and in terms of personal development as well.

It is an almost universal constant that change does not happen slowly. It happens, when it happens, with the speed of water tumbling over a failing floodgate. All at once, all at once, all at once.

If you're paying attention, though, you can sure as heck see that water piling up before the pins on the hinges break, now can't you?

Massachusetts, I dearly hope, was the ping of fatigued metal.

ETA: Oh, yeah. I'm not talking about fashionable cynicism, what Gardner calls "disPollyanna." That's not honest either, is it? Attractive as it can be.

What? I wouldn't be a writer is I weren't enamored of the sound of my own voice. *g*

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