Before I begin, allow this simple greeting. As you lay eyes upon these words, my fate impart prosperity upon you trek!
Secondly, I give praise to Ms. Suzannah Burke, for providing the medium of this blog and the invitation to participate. I am both touched by your grace and grateful for the opportunity.
Now… l-l-l-l-l-let’s get ready to RUMBLE!
I’m sorry, was that over the top? I can never tell!
And enough of that nonsense! Let us get down to the heart of the matter. I will share with you that I have been reading some of the entries for this month’s topic, and I have come to fear for my eyes… all of them! The two with which I call myself seeing/watching/observing, and the many in my brain and mind taxed with the burden to sustaining both the bane and the boon to open thought and consciousness. I suppose here is just a good a place as any to remind you, this is merely my opinion, but I will try to remain as close to the wheelhouse of fact as my passions will allow!
Violence in Literature… when is enough, enough?!
While the “it depends” answer has been given a time or two, it is the best answer to such a question. But I shall not let my thoughts remain there. Nay, nay! That would be too cryptic and far less than fulfilling. After all, aren’t we all looking for something to stimulate thought, reason, perspective, and passion? Ahhh, but what have we tripped upon here? What exactly are we doing when we read? What is it that we are looking for?
Go for it, Johnny 5! (and so much for “enough of that nonsense”) INPUT!
Yes, yes, yes – input! And if in the act of reading we are seeking input, what then can be said for the act of writing? If you said ‘the attempt to communicate and/or convey personal perspectives of truth, opinion and/or abstract thought’, try decaf! Output, pure and simple! What sort of output it is takes us back to the wordy answer, but that is hardly the focus for the moment.
You see, whether or not it is a conscious effort, writers are Public Servants; every artist is! Literature, in this case, is not an exception. Whether we are trying to educate, entertain or just shake shit up, doing it to ourselves is called masturbation. Doing it to you is called Free Love… at a price! So when a question like this is posed, it seems a little shallow in thought to go into a tirade of singular perspective, as some of my colleagues have demonstrated (you know who you are – shame on you). For you see, the public has the power, and they will let you know when you’ve crossed the line. This is not a matter of Line Control! Please, we hold so little true control in our lives that it seems insulting to that precious and small amount to engage in debate over whether violence belongs in literature. For such is rarely the purview of the writer.
Allow me to give you an example… it is the Winter Games of the Olympics, and if you’re the femme, you don’t mind tuning in to the Ice Skating Finals. If you’re the alpha, and not single, you’re trying to keep someone happy by watching with a forced smile on your face. And there she is, Suki Tonya Doskovich (tried to cover the countries that normally take the gold there) as she begins her compulsory run (I wonder how many will catch me on that one). She glides across the ice, the breeze generated by her speed of movement blows through her bright, blonde, brown, black hair, moving it back and out of her face and it trails on the wind behind her head. The same winds sweep over her (OMG is that an Armani she’s wearing?!) body as her left leg is bare and her right is wrapped in swirling multi-colored, sparkling fabrics that seem to move in the same rhythm of her music (an ode GaGa Winehouse Franklin). She builds up speed until she skates into a tight circle and then into a spin. Her back arches, and her head is thrown back as her hands sway up and down from over her head to down her sides. She plays a harp none can see but all can hear, and her arm movement never throws her out of balance as she spins faster and faster, becoming a blur of light and bodily form, stopping on the down beat as the music stops. The crowd goes wild; the Russian judge needs a cigarette and a towel. GOLD!
Now that is one way of looking at what STD was doing – ice-skating. But I failed to mention the blades on her skates, cutting into the ice in a barbaric thrashing of tempered steel and toned muscle! How her toe-pick gashed into the placid sheet of glass-like water. How she pushed her body for more speed! Muscles contracting and expanding as she pushed against the ice and pulled against tortured tendon and bone. And we she reached the center of the rink she dug into the ice once more, hurling her body into a powerful spin. She remembered every step of her Wing Chun Gung-fu Kata and her hands danced around her body, blocking the unseen arrows launched at her sides; parrying the thrusts, punches and kicks levied at her by the punishing sensei that only seemed to have concern for how much blood she would be made to spill! Her brain pounded inside of her skull as she began to lose equilibrium, and she placed her focus on the single blue light her coach had placed along the ceiling of the building. She could see only that light, and hear only her music as her form started to give way. She was losing control, losing cohesion and the efforts for speed and strength were now ripping her apart. But then she heard the tone, her signal for release and she closed her eyes, summoning one last surge of vitality. Her body exploded as she threw her head forward, her arms out from her side and her skates as deep into the ice as she could thrust them. They served as sure anchors and suddenly… the storm of her mind, body and spirit passed… followed closely by the thunder of applause.
Anyone who makes the effort of removing violence from literature is not writing life. Life (IMO) is a sliver of reality the universe allows us. But within that sliver is one thing that is most difficult to argue: balance! Take for instance (as a mild tangent), the argument of the vegetarian. You think when you bite into that salad that the vegetables weren’t cut, and pulled, and twisted, and drowned in some sort of condiment. I must admit, I smile when someone asks me, “How could you eat that knowing something had to die for it?” Depending on the mood, I might fire back with,” What? Are you telling me you eat something that was never born, never grew, and was never removed from its home so it can fill your belly? Oh, but it’s then about consciousness. Right. Just because you can’t perceive it means it’s not there! Good one! You aced the ‘tree falling in the woods but no one was there to hear it’, question. Not! (Here endeth the tangent) When the cheetah catches is prey, it is hardly passive yet we can accept that as nature. Despite our so-called higher functions, that nature resides within each of us. Fight or flight, sink or swim, do or die – the list is endless!
Now, as for me, I write violence. But I will go one step further and say I attempt to write life. Even in the frame of fiction, my perspective remains, “Well, what would you do?” Now when one creates alien life-forms, you’re allowed all kinds of variations of perspective, but in truth, Gene Roddenberry called it, everybody’s human if for no other reason because as the creator of the species, I am still human. That chip will not fly far from the block. With any luck, however, it might land in such a fashion that the other chips might reflect on who and what they are, violent or otherwise, and turn the page – in their lives if not in my books!
Thank you for your time and attention. It is my most sincere hope that you have read and gained something from the reading. That these words strike you not as ramblings of a nearly mad man, but as your servant who seeks to entertain, educate while being entertained and taught by you.
Stay Up, Stay Gold!
G. Russell Gaynor is a member of the Confederacy of the Quill and you can find his offerings, published under his name and that of Reiter, at www.quicksylverpublications.com