Wednesday, March 11, 2009

By the Power of Greyskull!

Last night the Abigail and I finally watched that episode of Lost that had been sitting on her hard drive, which got me thinking of something I noted during the early days of the TV show, back when they were still a gaggle of castaways wandering around on a tropical island, looking steadily more grubby (yet never, oddly enough, so grubby as to detract from their essential sexiness): the power of the gun.

At the very beginning of Lost, lots of people desperately wanted to kill each other (Jack and Locke, Locke and Sawyer, the audience and Kate), but they didn't have any guns. Without guns, they were forced to rely on old-fashioned methods, like fists, rocks, sticks, and ganging up on each other; old-fashioned, unreliable, brutal, and messy. As a result, the characters had to come to grips with their own visceral emotions and the eroding of their civilization ("I've been tortured by a spinal surgeon and a genuine eye-raki!"). It was good times.

Then, they found a gun.

At first, the gun took on an almost divine power. Here it was, a handheld object capable of killing cleanly (or relatively so, compared to a knife, stick, rock, or fist) and at a distance. Here was a weapon that trumped all other weapons anyone else on the island had. The lostaways worshiped, it, traded it back and forth, ran for it, lusted after it. It was better times.

Then, they found a whole lot more guns and the times became significantly less good, at least in this regard. The lesson remains, however, that it is possible to create situations in which objects that are completely ubiquitous - at least in fiction - become infused with a strange and deadly power, which is a phenomenon I find fascinating.

That's all I have time for today, but I'll leave you with some questions:

  • What else have you found that involves strange power attributed to a mundane object by the situation?
  • What have you written that did the same?
  • What is the strangest object to be treated in this way you have ever come across, either in your writing or in someone else's?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The conch shell in Lord of the Flies