My roommate, Jack, is, among other things, a filmmaker. So far he has made at least three short films in the apartment, which generally means that all the furniture that was in one room ends up in another for about three days. And the cat is intrigued. When he is not making films here, he is usually making films elsewhere as he and his peers all serve on each other’s films in different capacities. Aside from being a fascinating study in collaboration, this situation means that my cat frequently gets to take over his room when he is not around, and Musashi is very much for that.
When he is around, Jack tends to start conversations about writing that last for a couple of hours, usually starting with the words, “So, do you think…?” Last night, when I came home very late (thank you, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, for failing us yet again!) after a lovely dinner of Chinese food with my poetry midwife Pamela (the one I can always count on to tell me whether the ending of a poem sucks; apparently the ones I showed her yesterday do not; Huzzah!), I found Jack actually cutting up VEGETABLES for his dinner.
In my sheer amazement at this, I got into a conversation with him that lasted two hours, largely about Post-Modernism and the death of opportunity for artists to make anything new, since we are all just rehashing what has been done before. Part of this is in regard to an ongoing conversation about my rewriting the Xena narrative, which I would argue is, yes, rehashing, but rehashing to change the world, or at least myself, which is the only way we ever start changing the world, after all.
We were discussing, among many other things, the coming reboot of the X-Files with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the coming Batman vs. Superman movie (link to the retro trailer) and other rehashings of popular culture, and he was bemoaning (no, really, he was: and how often do I get to use that word?) the state of our culture and how if we only redo what we did we will not have the time, money or energy to do new things.
He is not wrong, but I do argue that this is, if you will, not the whole story.
He described how he sees humans, with our technology that allows us to see millions of miles into space, fly at hundreds of miles per hour, and delve deep into the Earth, as godlike. But it is, as one of his friends phrased it, a prosthetic divinity. We can only do these godlike things with our fancy tools. And with those tools we can do great good or great destruction.
“Yes,” I said. “And that is the story of Ironman.”
Eventually, we agreed that archetypal stories have their place in human meaning–making and identity production, and that as artists we can only be very intentional in what stories we tell and what stories we consume (read, watch, try to live into…).