Pet Sematary (2019): A Review

First of all, I sincerely hope that everyone is having a wonderful Easter weekend, regardless of the method or reasons you celebrate, or whether you celebrate at all. I just hope you had a good weekend. I certainly did–hence my extreme lack of posting the past couple days.

I’m actually pretty glad these posts got delayed because it means I get to write this review. I just went to see the film with my mom yesterday, so, obviously, I would have been unable to write this post on the day it was actually due.

Before I launch into the actual review, I feel a bit of background is necessary. I am a huge Stephen King fan. Every year I do a count, and at this point, out of King’s massive repertoire, there are only 10 or 11 of his major works (including both novels and short story collections) that I have yet to read, meaning I’ve read roughly 85% of the man’s body of work. Pet Sematary was the very first I ever picked up, so needless to say it has a very special place in my heart, and because of that I tend to be very protective of the source material. Let this serve as a disclaimer that, despite my best efforts to take the movie as its own entity rather than solely basing my opinions on how well it follows the book, this may not 100% be the case. In other words, as a constant reader, it’s significantly likely that my opinion will be biased. (Do also note, however, that is has been a significant amount of time since I read the book, so I apologize it I misremember some things)

That being said, despite being a King fan, I don’t always agree with his personal opinions, especially when ti comes to film. Anyone who has watched his solitary foray into directing, Maximum Overdrive (an adaptation of one of his own short stories), can understand why. King himself lauded the new Pet Sematary film as a modern masterpiece, but I can’t say that I agree. Overall, I found the film to be painfully mediocre, with some aspects I loved and wish had been incorporated into the original 1989 adaptation, and still more that went careening out of control as devastatingly as the driver of that fateful semi-truck.

Oh, yeah, this review contains spoilers.

My rating: 6.5

In case you happen to be unfamiliar with the basic plot line of the story, here goes: Louis Creed is a big city doctor who moves from a large city to the Maine town of Ludlow, after accepting a job offer that will allow him to spend more time with his wife and two young children. The Creeds’ new home sits near a busy road that serves as a busy thoroughfare for semis passing through. The family befriends and elderly man and lifetime Ludlow native named Jud Crandall, who shows Louis and his daughter Ellie the pet cemetery (the word misspelled as “sematary” on the handmade sign), where the local children have buried their pets for several generations.

Soon after, Louis has a traumatic experience at his work when a young man is fatally struck by a vehicle. This man, Victor Pascow, addresses Louis with his last words and later appears to Louis in a dream, leading him beyond the deadfall located behind the pet cemetery and on to the Native American burial grounds that exist beyond. He warns Louis that he must never go there, even if he feels he must. Upon waking, Louis initially brushes the occurrence off as a very lucid dream until he discovers his feet are caked with mud.

Then the family cat, Church, meets his end by the side of the road. Jud accompanies Louis to the pet cemetery, but he ends up unexpectedly leading Louis to the burial grounds where they bury Church’s body. A few days later, Church returns, but the cat is different somehow. Once friendly and playful, Church is now hateful, violent, and smells strongly of the dirt in which he was buried.

Naturally, Louis is shocked and confused by these developments, but soon thing fall more or less back into their normal routine. Some time later, one of the Creed children (2-year-old Gage in the novel and first adaptation, 8-year-old Ellie in the new film) is struck in the road by a speeding freight driver. Distraught, Louis’s wife, Rachel, seeks solace by taking her remaining child with her to her parents’ house, while Louis stays behind, claiming he has work to finish up before he joins them.

As it turns out, Louis does, indeed, have business to finish, and that business just so happens to include exhuming the remains of his deceased child and burying them beyond the pet cemetery. The plot reaches its climax when the resurrected child comes back, seemingly possessed by some force from beyond the grave, and kills both Jud and Rachel, who, driven by a deep instinct to return home. The dramatic ending…differs pretty largely from version to version and will be discussed later in this review.

Now for the actual review. I’m generally a pretty obsessive person, and though I do enjoy analyzing things from several different angles, I tend to focus on the positive. In most cases, I can find something to enjoy in even the biggest garbage fires of films. I would argue that this film, despite its flaws, is nowhere near being that terrible, and there’s, honestly, a lot to like, so that’s where I’ll start. First off, the sound engineering in this film is incredible. . The thumps and thuds pertaining to Rachel’s flashbacks about her sister are on point, and I actually liked how much the lined up with the sounds Jud hears shortly before meeting his demise. All of the forest sounds, especially the implied wendigo sounds are phenomenally eerie.

And since we’re now on the topic of the wendigo, I’m so glad we actually got a nod to that in this film, as well as a small nod to Timmy Baterman in the from of a newspaper article Louis comes across while researching the burial grounds. These are things that were largely absent in the original adaptation. Honestly, I can understand why. Horror movies tend to be rather short and these inclusions would have driven the film more toward a slow burn than a constant tension ride. Also, I understand the intended effect of leaving why the resurrected individuals come back so twisted and evil, especially when you consider Louis’ earlier quote about the possibility that everyone gets the afterlife that they expect. In terms of the souls of those resurrected, everyone viewing the film is open to believe as they wish. Being a fan of the novel, I enjoyed the nods. For one thing, wendigos are just one of those folklore beasties that absolutely terrify me to my core. Honestly, I have difficulty sleeping anywhere that’s even close to a significant spate of woods, I will hear a damn coyote howl and be up all night. I am honestly unsure if it’s the cannibalism or the distorted form that creeps me out the most. It may be a combination of the two. Wendigos are often depicted with deer skulls for heads, and there is something about herbivorous animals committing carnivorous acts that triggers some deep, ancestral fear in the pit of my gut. More on that later (I’m reviewing The Ritual for my “R” entry). I’m honestly getting freaked out just writing about it, so I would very much like to move on. I really enjoy the nod to Timmy Baterman, not only because it feels special to those who read the book. Timmy Baterman’s story closely mirrors the story of the Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, of which King initially intended Pet Sematary to be a retelling. It also closely mirrors the closing events of the novel. Timmy Baterman was brought back by his father after dying in World War II. Of course, he came back changed and was eventually killed by his father, who then set the family farm on fire. After Jud is killed, Louis sets the Crandall farm on fire before carrying Rachel’s body to the burial ground.

As a fan of the novel, one may think that the new film’s farthest divergence from the source material would be something I found rather irksome. In this case you would be wrong. I actually thought it was a smart decision to change the child who got killed from Gage to Ellie. Not only did add something new for those who already knew the story, thus eliciting a stronger reaction and probably answer a long held “what if?” for fans of the book and original film, I also think is added some depth to later events of the story. Though it may have seemed counter-intuitive at first, as Gage is the younger child and by default the more likely death to earn the most sympathy, Ellie is much more deeply woven into the plot. Church is her cat; she has a stronger connection to the pet cemetery; she seems to have a stronger relationship with Jud (at the very least, they both share the fact that their pets were brought back to life through whatever entity is said to dwell near the burial grounds). Honestly, it just makes sense to explore where the path leads if Ellie is the child who perishes, despite the fact that Louis is implied to favor Gage in the novel. I also believe the film did a pretty good job displaying this as well, with the two glaring (to me, anyway) exceptions of the highly unnecessary creepy bunny mask and the film’s conclusion (more on both of those later).

While the film has many merits, its flaws are also numerous, and where it fails, it fails hard. Probably the most consistent issue is the woodenness of the actors (even John Lithgow, which was pretty disappointing). It makes it rather difficult to enjoy the film when the characters are not portrayed in a believable manner. Jason Clarke plays Louis as this kind of detached asshole, which to be fair, is pretty accurate to how he’s portrayed in the book. You know, the whole “soil of a man’s heart is stonier” thing, but Clarke takes to the point that I can no longer believe Louis’s mannerisms are those of an actual human being. Rachel is just plain whiny and needy. Yes, in the original film she was worrisome and haunted by her sister’s illness and death, but it just felt to me more like original Rachel was headed back home because she sensed (or was supernaturally warned, whatevs) something was wrong and intended to do something about it, while 2019 Rachel basically just felt she needed Louis’s presence to assuage her own hysteria. Typically, the child actors in films are the ones who break my suspension of disbelief (which I cut them major slack for, as they’re obviously very young), but in this case I would say they do a better job than the adults.

My second complaint is that the film fell into some very obvious horror movie tropes. The whole procession thing with the kids in the creepy masks and the later use of the mask upon Ellie’s return from the grave were simply unnecessary and appealed more toward cliche than having any actual effect on the film. I also found the film too dependent on jump scares. The novel and the first film seemed to possess a somewhat more subtle sort of creeping dread. With the 2019 film it felt like there was a jump scare every few minutes. Some of them were well-timed and some of them weren’t, but, of course, after so many cheap scares, timing loses it’s importance and you end up just sitting there, constantly waiting for the shoe to drop. Though the film wasn’t too gory in comparison to various other films in the genre, I also believe it relied much more heavily on strong images and shock value than on actual character development and storytelling. Also, someone clearly got a little too excited with the smoke machine.

Finally, we arrive at my biggest complaint: the ending. This is what I had in mind at the beginning of this review when I said some responses I had would probably be biased. I should probably begin by detailing the concluding events of the novel and the first film, which are pretty similar, and this new 2019 version, which differs wildly from the source material. The original ending sees Louis sitting in the shambles of his family home playing solitaire and waiting for the return of his wife. Church and Gage have both been dispatched a second time and buried somewhere where they won’t return and Ellie is still away at Rachel’s parents’ house. Louis, mad with grief, is convinced that things will be different this time, that he waited too long to bury Gage and that’s why he came back mad. Eventually, the door to the Creed home creeks open and a cold hand reaches out to touch Louis’s should before a raspy “Darling” escapes from her lips. Cut to black. The end. It’s the kind of open ending that King seems to love writing, and many of his reader, myself included, enjoy reading. It leaves an uneasy feeling in your gut, but it also leaves you free to draw your own conclusions, to spends countless nights lying awake, ruminating over the fates of beloved characters. The ending to the new film…not as much.

This version ends with Louis attempting and failing to kill Ellie for good. He fails and is knocked unconscious as Ellie drags Rachel’s body toward the pet cemetery and what lies beyond. He awakes to see Rachel resurrected. Ellie and her mother approach Louis, presumably with the same intentions for him and we cut to an overhead scene of the Creed home ablaze (the same as the opening scene of the film, which served as an unnecessary and ineffective in medias re introduction), and young Gage waking up in the front seat of the family car, where his father had left him earlier in order to keep him safe). We see the resurrected Creeds approaching, Louis carrying a gas can. Gage, at first, looks excited to see his family, but his expression quickly changes as he notices that something is wrong. Churches jumps on to the hood of the vehicle and licks his lips as the rest of the Creed family advance menacingly toward the car.

I hate this ending so much for so many reasons. Really, it feels like Gage is (presumably) being killed off just for shock value. Not even the gut punch that’s delivered by a lot of classic King endings, but just a single moment of “Oh, no! The babyyy!” I felt legitimately cheated by this ending. I saw it coming when Rachel decided to bring Gage back with her in the first place, but I still ended up feeling cheated. Having Gage die at the end defeats the entire purpose of switching who got killed by the truck in the first place. It almost robs me of the poignancy that that change of events provides.Not only is the whole bad-guys-slowly-approach-and-close-in-on-our-final-living-protagonist ending a total cliche, it completely negates any and all character development or attachment we’ve formed with the characters. None of it matters because they’re all going to end up twisted/possessed/whatever at the end anyway.

That’s not even my biggest complaint about the ending. What really bugs me is the fact that it’s Ellie, not Louis, who buries Rachel beyond the pet cemetery. One of the most important themes of the story is lost this way. Pet Sematary is the story of a man who has always faced death rationally, being forced to face it irrationally, being forced to believe in things that don’t make any logical sense; it’s about a man making impossible decisions when positive outcomes don’t exist; and it’s about the very definition of insanity: making the same poor decision over and over again and expecting different results. Most importantly, it’s about a man who is selfish and whose selfish actions produce increasingly undesirable consequences for which he eventually has to accept accountability. When it’s Ellie who buries Rachel in the burial ground, the full impact of Louis’s selfishness is stripped away. It HAS to be Louis who makes the decision. HE has to be the one to decide because he has to be the one to reap the consequences of that decision. LOUIS has to decide, in spite of all that he’s seen, in spite of knowing what will happen to his wife, that he is selfish to attempt bringing her back because he doesn’t want to face the consequences of the horrible decisions he’s already made up to this point. Rachel’s return at the end of the novel and Louis’s presumed death (sans resurrection) symbolizes his selfish decisions finally catching up to him. By having Louis resurrected in the ending of the 2019 movie, he’s not himself anymore. He doesn’t have the capacity to tend what he’s sown in the soils of his own selfish heart.

So, there you have it. Basically, I felt the 2019 Pet Sematary had some good ideas, but overall it tried too hard to pander toward audiences who were looking for scares rather than actually attempting to present a compelling story. This is just my personal opinion. If you disagree feel free to share your own. I’m always interested to hear things from a different perspective. Thank you all for reading!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter P
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Open Letter to My Future Therapist

There are so many things that I will likely never say to you in a session, so many questions that I will answer without thinking or by uttering the easiest answer, the one that doesn’t cut as deep, the one that doesn’t force me to organize the swirling cyclone of half-baked thoughts. Please understand that duplicity is not my goal. Please understand that I have spent my entire morning routine and the car ride over, the moments sitting in the waiting room, staring blankly at the pages of Time or examining the melodramatic expressions of yet another slew of soap opera actors shoving my thoughts into the closet at the back of my mind and flinging myself against the door, praying that I will hear the click that tells me I can relax. That I can put off the spring cleaning of my mind for one more day. I would never intentionally lie, and I know that your job is to help. However, with the door closed, it’s difficult to take inventory of the multitudes of objects that press and wail at that plywood barrier, demanding to be let out. I drown out the noise with new thoughts, thoughts about what I will do when I leave. I form plans that I know will never become reality because, when this week’s session is done, I will be tired–so tired. My only goal will be to return home and collapse on my couch. Eventually, the cries and pleas will become too great. Despite my better judgement, I will open the door and the thoughts will pour out, and I will be reminded of all the things that I failed to mention to you and all of the questions that I forgot to ask. I will lie, staring at the ceiling, wondering when it will end. I know it never will. I should be cleaning up my mental health with the same frequency that I should be cleaning my house, which I also neglect. I never know where to start. In order to fix one problem, I need to start with another, and so on and so forth, down a line that twists itself into a Gordian knot, until all the thoughts become noise and everything I was supposed to remember gets swept away and lost in the maelstrom.

When I speak with you, I am calm and collected because I give you the first answers that come to my head. I give you answers that are simple, which does not mean that they are honest. The answers I give come from the front of my mind, ignoring the existence of those stowed away, locked tightly behind the closet door. When I am sitting in the chair in your office, I am not concerned with the verity of my answers, and I hope that you will not be either. I simply answer the questions and wait for you to move on to the next. I desperately hope that the fact that I am giving little thought to your inquiries and my own responses, that you will also fail to pay them any mind. The truth is: despite all the stereotypes that pop culture throws forth about the predictability and repetition of therapy, our conversations are the only ones whose outcome I can’t foresee with relative accuracy. They are the only ones I fail to rehearse ahead of time because I am in constant anticipation of that one question of line of discussion that will throw me off guard. I give you the easiest answer I can find, which means the one with no emotional connotation attached. I am sorry for that, but it is how I have been taught to cope. In some cases, I have spent hours forcibly removing to connotation from the phrases I speak, but I can never remove them from the thought. I disconnect the words I utter from the idea behind them and build a wall. I separate the two, but they  always find a way back to each other eventually. I act as though the events I mention no longer affect me, but I utter the phrases without thought and move on before that facade can crumble. I seem so calm and rational when we speak, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I condition myself for these situations, but in life, I am incapable of maintaining the mask. Everything affects me. I once cried because I spent money from my daughter’s piggy bank, and even though I replaced it a week later, all I could think about was the fact that it was not the same assortment of bills I had given her previously. I also laugh over the silliest musings. I can see a bird flying ahead and think “what if that was a pterodactyl?”, and, suddenly, despite nothing about the pondering being humorous, burst into hysterical peels of laughter. This brings me to another topic that I will likely never broach while sitting in your office: either of these reactions, positive or negative, can become to much to me, so instead of handling or adjusting my own reactions, I waste such a large majority of my time in my head, synthesizing my own scenarios and reactions, ones that I have control over. I focus on these while ignoring and neglecting the people and situations in my life that truly have the power to bring me joy. I step through the doorway to my imagination, telling myself that I will only be there a few moments, but once I am in I’m trapped inside my own mind and can only be pulled out with help from others. This is just the beginning. There are so many emotions and states that I experience which I will never share with you. Mostly, I do so out of fear. Though I am aware that my condition is not particularly uncommon and that others have fallen much farther down the rabbit hole of mental illness than I ever will, I have a constant paranoia that I will somehow be the one person you fail to understand, that your years of study and wealth of source materials will somehow come up short in my case. Not because I am some astounding psychological anomaly, but because I am an abomination so broken that not even you can fix me. That is why I hide. It has nothing to do with doubt in your skills and experience, but doubt in myself.

So here are the truths inherent to my biological makeup. The things I will likely never share with you in person, but still feel that you should know: Yes, I do frequently experience symptoms of mania and depression simultaneously, like my mental rollercoaster is undertaking a corkscrew as it head into a nosedive. I can simultaneously muse on all of the wonders that life has to offer and dismiss them as joys that are meant for someone other than me. It’s a feeling that is difficult describe, and one that I will tell you I do not experience because 1) I do not have the words, and 2) I know that it is a sign that my condition is worse than I would like to think; honestly, I could not accurately state how frequently I experience states of mania. They all fly by in a flurry and once I’m depressed again, I can no longer recall when they happened, how long they lasted, or how I could have ever felt the way that I did in the first place; I feel like, somewhere inside of my is a bubbly person. I see that person when I am with my friends or loved ones, or even by myself, locked inside my head, but my social anxiety surrounds me so entirely that sometimes I feel separated from everyone else by glass a foot thick, so I just curl up and sit rather than bloody my hands by pounding on it. The isolation makes me feel like I am drowning, but I feel incapable of doing anything else; sometimes my thoughts become so disorganized that I feel incapable of expressing anything. I cycle between sadness and frustration at how inept I am at what feels like literally everything.

Not Feeling It

Not feeling it

And by it, of course,

I mean anything

I simply don’t

Have the energy

Or motivation

To fully process

My own thoughts

Let alone manifest

Them in a way that

Others find appealing

Or palatable. Maybe

You can ask me tomorrow

But today, I think I’ll just

Head off to bed. It’s all

I can really think to do

Mercurial Machinations

I have to say that M has proven to be the most difficult topic for me to decide on. The options I have at my disposal are multitudinous. I have a handful of poems with titles starting with M. There are a myriad (ha) of magnificent words beginning with the letter, some of my favorite words, in fact. Maven, maverick, melancholy, malaise, maudlin, maelstrom,meander, menagerie. The list goes on. Honestly, I’m probably coming across a bit melodramatic, perhaps even a bit manic with my lists here, but there are just so many! There’s malingerer, which describes what I am when I’ve stayed up too long writing and decide to tell my my boss I’m too sick to work the next morning. There’s misanthrope, which is what I suddenly become when I am already in a terrible mood and someone makes a decision that forces me back into my room to mope over how people are the worst. Not to mention, the phrase major malfunction, which is pretty much the most accurate description of my life that I have ever encountered. And, of course, there’s monotonous, which is what this post is quickly becoming.

I could probably sit here and think of a million random tangents in which I string together words beginning with the letter m like alliteration is going out of style after the past couple centuries, but, for your sake (and my own), I will refrain from doing so. Basically, my plan for today was to discuss the title of my blog and why I chose it. I realize there is an about section that offers me ample opportunity to do just that without wasting an entire post, but I tend to use that are as more of a descriptor than an explanation. That section is for what my blog is about (though I have to say, my site is more like the Seinfeld of blogs: a blog about nothing) than an elaboration on the blog’s title. Honestly, the reasoning is pretty simple: 1) I’m an alliteration addict (See what I did there? Don’t act like you didn’t see the signs), and 2) I thought it was fitting. I also think it sounds cool, but isn’t that pretty much why anyone picks a name for anything? Anyway, mercurial machinations was just something that popped into my head really, and it just happened to work so well that it stuck. It’s just do reflective of both my writing and my mental processes in general. So much of what I write has darker undertones, and more often than not, there’s a twist of some sort. Most of my short stories read like Twilight Zone episodes, and I love it, but I do feel a little bit like a madwoman hunched over a notebook or hunkered in front of a computer screen, scheming my little schemes. Even my current WIP, a novel, is propelled by a character’s long term scheme and manipulative actions. The novel is an exception, but most of the time, I am not even sure how a story is going t end until I get there myself. Sometimes I have an idea, but it’s always in flux. So my stories themselves really as mercurial machinations, both the stories themselves and the processes of their creation. But it doesn’t stop there; my stories and the manners in which I create them serve so perfectly as reflections of my mental state in general. I’ve talked about my struggles with bipolar previously in this challenge. My mind is in a constant state of fluctuation. The chemicals in my brain are constantly shifting, constantly off balance. That means my emotions are as well. Add to the mix the fact that I am the most indecisive person in existence, even on my most stable days, and you have the recipe for a lot of indecision and a lot of changed plans. Grandiose plans are manufactured in a manic state, only to be crushed by doubt when that state turns depressive. I have plans of world domination (figuratively speaking of course) when it comes to my writing, but then I cower when it comes to even sharing a simple short story online. I have goals in place, but they are always changing. I am constantly failing, or giving up, or deciding that what I thought I wanted isn’t what I truly want. Mercurial is probably the most accurate self-descriptor I can ascribe, so once again, it fits.

And that’s it; that’s the whole story. Maybe not all that exciting, but I enjoyed writing about it. I have some pretty big plans for tomorrow, but, knowing me those will probably change. Catch you guys on the flip side!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter M

Life in Miniature


In a field, there pranced

clockwork figures of animals

Both small and large

These animals had come to live

In harmony, though many should

Never have been able to get along

Bears and tigers, snakes and mongooses,

Lions and lambs, gazelles and wolves

Penguins of the frigid ice

And scorpions of the barren deserts

They pranced and played

In places nature said they should not

And sometimes a creature lost its way

And plinked softly against the glass


“A work of art is an abstract or epitome of the world. It is the result or expression of nature, in miniature. For, although the works of nature are innumerable and all different, the result or the expression of them all is similar and single.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter


Keeping Up

I am continuously falling behind on these posts. I keep spacing on needing to write them each day. Somewhat counter-intuitively, I seem to fall behind more frequently on days when i don’t work and get to just relax at home. I spend so much time catching up on housework or actually doing the things I enjoy: reading, watching shows, working on writing my current WIP, or simply sleeping that I end up forgetting all about these posts. Maybe I should set an alarm on my phone, but then again, I’d probably just end up leaving it somewhere else in my house, and still forget to write in time.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Jumping Jehoshaphat!

I managed to lie down for a nap after work and ended up falling asleep for most of the night! Naturally, it’s a bit of a setback when it comes to this challenge, but it feels good to catch up on some rest. I’ve been running on about two hours per night for the past week, so this was much needed. With this post out of the way, I’m going to get back to it and soak up the moments of sleep I can get before I have to get up for work in an hour. At least it’s Friday.

Institutionalized

Stand up straight and brush

your hair, brush the dust from your clothes,

brush your teeth, and don’t forget to brush

off all of the memories of your behavior

the last few nights. That person with the

disheveled clothes and the greasy hair, she’s

not here right now. You’re out in the world, and she

is locked, screaming, in the asylum at the

very back of your mind. Her fingers

make scratches on the door, but you mustn’t

listen to the things that she says. Her cries

are only manipulations. You mustn’t heed them

at any cost. There is a reason that she resides

in the institution you built, brick by brick

in the depths of your own conscience.

Leave her there to rot.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

How About…

How about

We just don’t

Put any thought

Into real ideas

About what we

Have to say

What if, instead,

We choose to act like

We did, simply by

Arranging some

Random words

In an order that

Seems rhythmically

Sound and basically

Just hoping for

The best

Grandeur/Grandiosity

I had a lot of great (haha, see what I did there?) options when it came to choosing today’s topic. I had a whole spiel for the words genial and gregarious–how they are words that will never describe me personally and also whether possessing such traits is necessarily a positive indicator of character. I also had an idea pertaining to gestures and whether the importance lies in the act, the intention, or some combination of the two. I decided to forego these topics because I feel that my blog is diverging pretty widely from what I intended it to be. I have always intended this blog to be about literature, either the production or interpretation thereof. Since beginning this challenge, I’ve been writing predominantly about my own mental state or simply events going on in my life.

Now, in now way do I mean to imply that sharing personal experiences or advocating for mental health are bad things or even topics that I will be willfully avoiding in future posts. Naturally, things that play major roles in my life also play major roles in my writing and the way in which I interpret the writing of others. Starting with this post, I would just like to build a bridge between the two. I’ve always been fascinated with just how much of the human condition carries over into fictional worlds, even those with no human presence at all. It’s fascinating to consider the psychology of characters, their choices, and the effects of their personal circumstances. I have a habit of building psychological profiles of characters in the works I read, and even more so for the ones I write. If I didn’t I would feel I was cheating a character out of the respect they deserve and cheating readers out of the authenticity that they deserve.

Yes, there is a point to all of my ramblings; no, you didn’t read the title incorrectly; and yes, those words do mean what I think they mean. Today, I wanted to briefly (or is briefly as is possible for me, anyway) discuss what has drawn countless individuals to tales of tragedy over literally millennia of storytelling. Particularly, I’m talking about tragedy in the Greek sense of the term, where the hero is an individual of wealth and influence, whose single fatal flaw leads to their ultimate undoing. Countless examples exist from countless times and locations of origin: Oedipus, Macbeth, Jay Gatsby. My focus isn’t necessarily the grandiosity of their characters or their lifestyles, but rather why we as readers (or viewers, or actors) are so fascinated with observing the downfall of individuals of grandeur, and why we enjoy watching it unfold in such a grandiose manner.

Why is it that we so enjoy watching the pedestal being smashed beneath the feet of these great figures? There are so many ways to answer this questions, and I believe they are all valid in some degree. To some degree, I definitely believe that envy plays a role in our fascination. These tragic figures have attained positions far loftier than any of us will ever achieve, and jealousy certainly makes it easy to want to see them brought down.Then there’s the fact that we’re taught to hate arrogance, which is a major flaw of such characters. It also appeals to interests of karma and cosmic justice; it helps us to believe that everyone eventually gets what they deserve. Lessons in humility are also present. The list goes on and on, and there’s no shortage of interesting discussion material on the topic; that’s for sure!