Reality confounds me.
I woke up early this morning. Between C’s snoring and our enormous cat wedging himself onto my side of the bed, sleep was impossible. I came downstairs to have a quiet coffee and opened my laptop to indulge in some Almost News. One of the first headlines I read had to do with a man who had apparently tried to kill his wife three times–once by poisoning her toothpaste.
And for few seconds I was confused, because it seemed like an episode of Radio Mystery Theater. Do these things happen in real life?
There’s a little bar in Las Vegas–somewhere in the maze of Ceasar’s Palace–with a big tank full of seahorses. My friend and I watched them for quite a while.
Months later, I began to describe them to someone at work, but the more I thought about their horsey heads and limbless, harp-shaped bodies somehow suspended upright, the more improbable they seemed. It suddenly occurred to me I might be conflating seahorses with something imaginary, like mermaids. I mean, what the hell is a Sea Horse?
Everywhere I look, there is darkness. Our actions and responses defy understanding. And the more I think about them, the less real they become.
This past weekend I watched White God. The film is about dogs “who start an organised uprising against their human oppressors” (the wiki synopsis, which is concise). It was an interesting film in several ways.
First and foremost, it was a live action movie about animals that wasn’t adorable*, which is something. Then, it was a narrative of oppression that was not intellectualized; it appealed to existential empathy, rather than ideological flexibility (an interesting way of sidestepping individual bias, I think). And finally, it offered no resolution suggesting (or even hoping) humans would prevail. The latter felt less problematic than I would hope.
But then, hope is a whole other seahorse.
*The first half of this film is especially hard going. If you have a heart, it will rip it out. But if you’re interested, this Fresh Air interview with the trainer will reassure you. It’s also chock-full of interesting stories about how they filmed the scenes, and how the director insisted they have 250 live dogs on set. There was no CGI in this film at all. It’s really remarkable.