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Friday, November 1, 2013

Splinter. By John von Daler

                  Usually the younger generation tries to shock its parent generation. Faulkner knew this and often let his fictional children build up emotional connections with their grandparents. While they antagonized their parents, they empathized with those parents' parents.

                Shock plays an important part in holding the closest generation at bay. You hate rings in noses? All right. I've got one.
                The fiction that is seen and read by each new generation tries to shock more than anything before it. Sometimes, when you have been around as long as I have, you do not really see anything now that was not exactly as bad thirty years ago. The media changes, the styles can be different, but the one-upsmanship of power or of sex remains pretty much the same. In a certain sense, having experienced similar shocking turns in literature, movies, or songs through the years makes you immune to them.
                I do not really go looking for new shocks. If I can, I steer clear of water-boarding, exploding bombs, satanic sex and other dark pleasures.
                If you were to ask me which single detail has made the most awful impression on me in any of the fiction to which I have been exposed, my answer would not be a famous scene in a film by Sam Peckinpaw, an evil orgy by Pasolini, or torture by Tarantino. Nor would it be the latest gruesome gothic novel. I would have to point at H.C. Andersen.
                The cursed piece of glass that in The Snow Queen lands in Kay's eye and wanders down to lodge in his heart to fatefully ensure that he thereafter will see all of his world in the most evil possible light still makes me shiver deep inside.
                I know that in Greenland they have a drum tradition whose purpose is to scare children. When the horrors of the real world suddenly appear, say a polar bear two meters away, the children will be calm in that situation, having experienced what was worse, and will have the concentration and calmness necessary to kill the beast.
                H.C. Andersen is my society's version of the scary drum dance. I know the evil of the glass splinter when I see it and I am ready to repell it.

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