Thursday, July 08, 2010

How teenagers saved the world

When I'm not considering how to write the historical psychiatric novel, I think about creating some new teenagers and children to save the world. Because, despite Frodo, Lyra, Harry Potter and many others, the world still needs saving and the adults are clearly not up to the task. A couple days ago I watched The Road, which I had read previously, but I hadn't taken away one of the more obvious morals of the story, which was that the burden of salvation and redemption is on the child, not the father, who does his best but eventually succumbs rather unceremoniously. Mom had already checked out, of her own volition. Leaving it all to the boy.

Of course I recall being that boy (in my own mind) and I have a live boy of my own, but neither that past-I nor the present-he seem good candidates for saving even themselves, let alone the world. Though my son detests organized religion and prejudice ... perhaps a good start on redeeming the sins of the fathers. On the other hand, he sees the world in the mirror and can hardly manage to put out the trash effectively. The fantasy of the mostly male, grown-up authors of these teenage-saves-the-world is perhaps that they, we ourselves, might have been different than we were. That we might have acted out our ideals and desires instead of getting a college education and a mortgage.

As a teacher, I am continually assaulted by my desire to reward those students of mine most for not growing up, at least not growing up to be one of the unattractive, self-involved, materialistic, spirit-less philistines who surround me. Thus, the writing of these sagas of redemption is itself redemptive -- like duh. Whereas, the writing of the historical psychiatric novel would probably be more about self-discovery and disclosure. Both are versions of the "cure" -- neither have much prospect of putting coins in the coffer.

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