Friday, April 20, 2007

Why I like a chalk quote

Previously, I mentioned that some people on campus are writing little tidbits on the exterior walls of the academic buildings. I want to write a little musing on this quote:

Life contains two tragedies.
One is to not get your heart's desire.
The other is to get it.

We see the first tragedy all the time in the movies, but we rarely see the second. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby loses his status as the top NASCAR driver. In Stranger than Fiction and in Joe Versus the Volcano men wrestle with their mortality. In UHF, George Newman's struggle is finding a lifestyle that grants him the freedom to imagine. In I Heart Huckabees, Tommy Corn and Albert Markovski want to protect the environment. In all of these movies, the hero's struggle is in trying to gain or keep his heart's desire.

More rare, though, are movies about a hero already having his heart's desire and suffering in the despair, "Is this all there is?". (The Aviator is a notable exception.) This is odd, because this suffering is very real, it happens all the time to rich, successful, famous people. When you hit the top, where do you go but down?

When I saw Return of the King for the first time, I was overwhelmed at the end. The Fellowship led the fight against Evil and won, but what next? Aragorn had a kingdom to rule, Sam had a family to love, and Frodo and Gandalf left for the Undying Lands. But what happened to Legolas and Gimli? The Hobbits had been fighting for their homes, Aragorn, for his kingdom, but Legolas and Gimli were fighting because they were warriors -- that's what they do. What does a warrior do when there's no one left to fight?

Dogs chase cars. What would a dog do if it caught one?

"I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chasing after the wind."

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