I am currently reading my children Enid Blytons ‘The Faraway Tree’. This was my favourite book as a child, actually anything written by Blyton was read over and over.
With my somewhat adult brain I have a new take on these books and realise that Mrs Blyton belongs in the hall of fame with the likes of Hieronymous Bosch, David Bowie and LSD.
Parallel universes abound. What land can we visit at the top of the tree today Dick and Fanny (ok without stating the obvious….really, three kids and two names reference genitals ???).
Lands I would invent for the top of the faraway tree:
The land of David Bowie
The land of relaxation, yoga, meditation, healthy food, sweatlodges etc
The land of Ancient famous people, Greek Gods, Jesus, Buddha etc
The land of cowboys – good looking ones that call you ‘mam’
The land of Grace Jones – designed by and featuring Ms Jones
The land of no gravity – the land of the moon
The land of wild animals that looked fierce but didn’t bite
The land of Weeds – the show
The land of kind grandparents
The land of your face is your arse and your arse is your face
The land of holograms
The land of spirits – dead people not alcohol – well dead people and bloody mary’s
The land of freaky science experiments
Ok this could last all night, it started me thinking about ‘Back to the Future’ – the 80’s trilogy of movies starring Micheal J Fox. Where would you go, it’s like the idea of lands but a bit more restricting, for example you can’t just have good looking cowboys if you go back in time, you have to see all the cowboys. Would you go to the future? Would you want to know whats going to happen. In 2016, the future isn’t something many people want to think about.
On that note, Yolunda and I were discussing the recent surge in zombie films to hit cinemas recently.
“We are more interested in the zombie at times when as a culture we feel disempowered,” Laurotold the AP. “And the facts are there that, when we are experiencing economic crises, the vast population is feeling disempowered. … Either playing dead themselves … or watching a show like ‘Walking Dead’ provides a great variety of outlets for people.”
There have also been many other apocalyptic movies but as Dan Birlew (http://www.danbirlew.com/why-are-zombies-so-popular/) points out
The zombie apocalypse scenario changes all the rules for the people who must live on afterwards. And compared to other apocalypses that could happen, it remains the most appealing. The film 2012 showed us its version of what the Mayans predicted millenniums ago, that the climate is going to shift suddenly and the entire planet will be rocked by earthquakes, volcano explosions, and tidal waves. Even if you’re one of the lucky 1% to survive all this, you get to look forward to a lifetime of scrounging for food and drinking water, not to mention breathable air. That’s probably why 2012 tanked at the box office, and not just because of its implausible scenario or horrific dialog. This apocalypse just doesn’t have any appeal.
The other apocalypse scenarios basically all involve deities presiding over the fate of mankind. So it’s important to be good now so that you’ll be okay on Judgement Day. It’s all out of your hands. This apocalypse has no box office value whatsoever, unless you only hint at it, just a little bit, like in the original Omen series of films.
The zombie apocalypse is the only end of the world scenario with real appeal, because it’s all up to you. If you don’t freak out and lose your mind (like Barbara in Night of the Living Dead) then there’s a very good chance that you might be able to avoid danger, even if that means leaving others behind to be eaten. All you need is a weapon, and when you think about it, virtually everything is a weapon, not just guns. Grocer shelves are lined with food packed with preservatives, meaning it will never spoil, so you can go around picking up whatever you want whenever you like. And there’s a good chance that people will like you better just because you’re good at surviving zombie attacks. Your personality or entertainment connections won’t be such a factor anymore.
Plus, there’s an entire world full of walking punching bags. People are now zombies, and you have to kill them before they kill you. So it doesn’t really matter what you do to them, because they’re not people anymore. They’re former people that you can beat down and tear apart in the most gruesome ways you can think of. The more clever and savage, the better. Take out all your frustrations in all the ways you ever dreamed, it doesn’t matter anymore. No one’s going to stop you from killing a monster, even if it used to be a person.
I recently finished reading the Justin Cronin series, ‘The Passage, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors’. A survival story based around a girl called Amy who is infected with the vampire virus. These vampires were more like the flesh eating zombies described above and it was a game of survival for a few that cruised across America to find and take down the twelve main infected leaders. It was a brilliant read due to the suspense created in many parts, the idea of survival, abandoned countries, the fight to keep the human population alive. Young women and children would be saved over older men and women past child bearing age. This redundancy of life, bringing it back to the basics. The powers the main vampires had, they could travel between worlds, always appealing to me. Also one of the most enjoyable aspects of a novel for me, it jumped in and out of different characters lives rather than a story following a linear timeline. It then becomes like a guessing game as to how all the bits fit together, while giving the characters, especially the vampires a backstory and a humanness, thus keeping the novel alive.
Did I relate this novel to present day? did it help take my mind off the possible end of our existence due to natural or man made disaster? Does the thought of surviving a zombie invasion feel more appealing to me than a huge asteroid hitting earth and creating another ice age?
I remember being at the bottom of Mexico when a cyclone warning hit – we arrived at Playa Del Carmen as locals were rushing around taping and boarding up windows, the sea was going nuts, there was an alcohol ban (yes, that’s what happens in Mexico during a crisis – tequila is instantly off the menu ) ,we quickly bought our supplies and sorted out our hotel room for the impending disaster. This will sound very selfish but boy was I disappointed when nothing eventuated – I was in full survival mode and as excited as anything. Mostly excited about making it out alive – it didn’t cross my mind that I wouldn’t. Everything is peeled away in those moments, jobs, money, the fact you are sick to death of your travelling companion and what is left is something that we all have inbuilt, that need to survive – this fascinates me. I am not even sure it is a mind issue.
I watched my grandfather die last year over a 3 day period of staying in hospital with him, it was such a profound experience on many levels. The bodies need to survive was so interesting. He had given up, with a huge amount of dignity, he was completely ready to go yet his body fought this idea for 3 days. So what is more important, your bodies wishes or your minds? Euthanasia fans and suicide victims will have you believe the mind gets to say when the body should leave . Doctors and medical staff generally place the highest value on the bodies ability to survive.
So back to Ms Blyton – actually I can’t get back to her as I am so far off topic – I’m in the land of free form rambling. Actually I would like to go there, it could be like the land of ‘what if…. ?’ or the land of ‘would you rather?’