Ask Palinode #4: the love of images

If you were a 2nd century Gnostic tooling around the streets of Rome on an ass, you'd probably regard emails as a kind of emanation from the Godhead, not electronic impulses transmitted from one magnetic substrate to another. That's why they didn't make computers 1800 years ago; they were just that dumb. But I like the Gnostics, with their freaky cosmologies and their sassy demeanour. They were the Christians that even the Christians couldn't stand! With that in mind, my friend Cenobyte brings me this week's question:

Is it so difficult to make a movie/program/book/ poem/song/left-hand turn without a damned love interest somewhere in there? Not everybody cares who has the hots for whom. What's the problem here? Okay, really, that's two questions, but they're kind of connected.

As far as I can tell, Cenobyte, that's not a question at all. I checked my Language Arts textbook from grade 4 to confirm, and the verdict is in: questions end in a question mark (the book says they are interrogative sentences). Your question ends in a period. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to ignore the sentences that don't end in question marks and treat them as auxillary appendages. Like flippers. They're the deformed limbs of your question to me, and as such make me uncomfortable. Suddenly I'm flustered, like maybe I'll ruin a perfectly innocent answer but with an inadvertent reference to trained dolphins or Alvin Law. Maybe I'll alienate my thalidomide baby fan base. Maybe I have an inner child who was deformed by thalidomide poisoning, and now he'll be super pissed at me. That'll leave me out of touch with my precious inner child. I'll end up unloveable and dysfunctional and walking around with the hurt inside me all the time, with my inner child going, I Have Phocomelia, and taking it out on my loved ones. I can't have that.

So instead of suffering the awkwardness of avoiding the vestigial flipper limbs of your question, I'm going to be upfront about it and openly acknowledge and celebrate the limbs. Because I understand that's refreshing and honest in this overly polite age of political correctness.

And I'm going to honour your flipper-limbed question by answering it, which is what you wanted in the first place, and is the respectful thing to do in such an awkward situation.

Love in the flesh is one thing. Love in the imagination is an unfulfilled entity straining at the tight pants of desire to burst out into reality. Love in art is the faint but enticing promise of naked people. And that's a promise worth keeping. Let me expand.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics (the First Law pertains to parking) states that disorder increases in a closed system. Well hot damn - we're living in the biggest closed system there is. Entropy is the worm at the heart* of reality. All the things of this world - trees, rocks, dog turds, mayoral candidates, action memos - are moving into a state of disorder, dispersing heat with each exchange until they are cold and dead. Sand is the corpse of rocks, loam the corpse of trees, and dead mayoral candidates the corpses of live mayoral candidates.

I know what you're thinking: Well, duh. But here's the thing. We are born into this closed system, bearing witness to a universe drifting into the cold dark dead corners. Our bodies are small machines sent out to counter the constant push of entropy and create order. That is our bodies' mission - to fight against the conversion of live mayoral candidates into dead ones, and to replace them with future mayoral candidates. If the living bore a flag when they entered this maze of death, it would be a bright banner with the image of a smiling mayoral candidate, ready to lay out a platform and run a city (and that's where we get municipal politics).

Is it a losing battle? Only on the individual scale. Inividuals who enter the machine must work according to the machine's rules, which is one rule, which is death. So we appear and die, appear and die, seeming to observers like sparks from a fire flaring as they shoot upward.

As our bodies resist death, so do our imaginations, throwing out images that reconstitute and recreate little pieces of the universe, keeping these little pieces constantly circulating, building on these pieces, building an edifice against forgetfulness where imagined mayoral candidates can sit under imagined trees. These images want to break through their quasi-existence and join the phenomenal world, where the dog turds and action memo and we dwell. They possess their own will, a sovereign grammar that says one thing only: Remember us. Repeat us. So they reiterate their desire in the language of bodily desire, the inaugural act of entropy's reversal.

So yes, it's very difficult to have literature or film without the love interest. And even though not everyone cares who has the hots for whom, the collective images that emanate from We Warriors For Future Mayoral Candidates compel us to carry their messages. And as I stated earlier, films with a love story commonly feature hot people taking their clothes off. Which is, you're going to protest against that? Well okay, but the latest studies say that it's healthy in moderation.

Note: those of you familiar with Gnosticism will see that my answer had nothing to with Gnostic beliefs, and nothing to do with thalidomide, phocomelia, or politeness. As I've stated in previous posts, though, my science is impeccable on account of the long white lab coat that I wear when I type up my answers, not to mention the beakers and crucibles and shit that I got going on over here.

*For some reason I've always believed that the image of the 'worm at the heart' came from William Blake's poem "The Sick Rose," but when I was called on the phrase (see the comments) looked at the poem I realized that the word 'heart' appears nowhere. It's a 'bed of crimson joy,' which doesn't quite sound like a heart to me, if you follow. Has anyone encountered this heartworm phrase before, or is my brain just silly?

Have a question? Want the damn thing answered but good? Ask Palinode at askpalinode @ gmail . com.