Cash Anthony, Director and Screenwriter, said:
If you like to be scared until the hairs rise on your neck when you read science fiction, you’ll love this book. Mark Phillips has created a fascinating, scandal-driven scientist in his character, Steven Marks, and he’s put him in a more-than-adequately evil world. Even the skeptical will be disturbed by dialogue like, “You’ve brought meat.” A great read.Mark has a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Northwestern University, both in Philosophy. Currently, he teaches pre-calculus and political philosophy at Bellaire High School in Houston.
The Resqueth Revolution is both scary and mesmerizing. The opening chapter will capture you. If you’re a wimp like me, though, you’ll lock the doors while you read.
How, When, and Why to Write About Violence – Part 3
We ended our discussion yesterday with the example of the victim-hero and I’d like to continue with a few more thoughts on that before moving on.
This trait of victimization as a necessary prerequisite for justified violence even plays out in our international relations, with sometimes tragic results. Remember the Alamo, the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, 9/11. I’ve read history texts that make out a semi-plausible case that Churchill and Wilson practically invited the Germans to sink the Lusitania as a way to draw the U.S. into WW I. Robert Stinnett in Day of Deceit amasses considerable circumstantial evidence that FDR knew about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor well in advance from decrypted Japanese transmissions, and deliberately withheld that information from the military in Hawaii. Washington rerouted carriers to put them out of harms way and mysteriously canceled exercises in the areas through which the Japanese navy planned to travel. The implication is that FDR needed a dastardly enemy sneak attack to motivate the American public out of its isolationist inclinations, and that he arranged the situation accordingly. The Internet is full of bloggers convinced that both the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks were false-flag operations perpetrated by our own government to make the public more amenable to our leaders’ agendas.
Whether any or all of these are true or not is irrelevant to my point. Those who write history into existence with their policy decisions and those who distort history with paranoid interpretations are manipulating the same plot devices used over and over in violent fiction.
One last approach to violence is the most disturbing for many people.
There seems an ever-growing portion of our population who simply revel in gore: the fans of the most grisly special effects of slasher and horror films, the fans of the novel and short story subgenre called splatterpunk. This sort of extreme blood lust is exhilaration in violence not very distinct from sexual lust. Many before me have noted that, unlike most other horror films, when the slasher approaches his next young female victim, we often see through his eyes. In a slasher film the director encourages us to identify with the hunter, not the hunted. The filmmakers often portray the female slaughteree as loose or morally suspect in a way that is inviting the killer. It is not at all different from crude rape pornography where the woman “invites” her rape by wearing sexy clothes, or being a haughty tease. Slasher films seem designed to satisfy the vicarious psychopathic revenge fantasies of loser teen boys spurned by the cheerleader. Hollywood, to the consternation of many, is eager to provide such visions to a young demographic with disposable income. It has made billions of dollars mixing sex and violence into ever more exciting/disturbing combinations.
Those of you who believe this phenomenon is a sign that our civilization is tottering may be right. But other generations have had the same reaction to the reading material favored by their own teen psychopaths. Go back and look at the lurid sex/violence combinations of the cover art of the old pulp magazines from the 1920s through the 1940s. Go back and look at the gruesome EC horror comics that were so popular in the 1950’s and caused a nation to crack down on comics in a witch-hunt analogous to McCarthyism. The psychopaths who read that material are your parents and grandparents who wouldn’t be caught dead going to a slasher film. Maybe it’s something that teens grow out of. Maybe it’s something that civilization helps us bury, but is always there waiting to reemerge.
We live in a culture that is still working out its relationship to violence. For all I know it is endemic to the human condition. Perhaps all civilizations, perhaps all individuals within their own souls, must work out the balance between the bloodlust of the savage and the revulsion to violence of the ethically sophisticated. We writers should explore these tensions creatively. Fiction writers must learn to surf the currents of tension within their culture and within themselves. The bigger the tensions the more opportunities to elicit emotion and insight. Want to be a popular writer? Let the current take you in the currently accepted patterns. Want to push the envelope? Then get out ahead of the cultural wave and cut a new swath—you might even get to contribute in some small or even large way to the ongoing cultural solutions to those tensions. Perhaps you will be able to strike a new and more satisfactory balance between the pleasures of the outer civilized citizen and the inner barbarian.
Thank you so much, Mark.
I've only been to one slasher film. Years ago, my now-husband took me to see "Last House on the Left." We didn't stay long before we got up and walked out.
Be sure you go over to Char’s Book Reviews for a give-away tomorrow. You can buy The Resqueth Revolution on Barnes and Noble.Com or, if you prefer, Amazon.
I'm sure everyone noticed that this was Part 3 in Mark's violence series. You can still read Parts One and Two of the complete violence series:
- March 24 - How, When, and Why to Write About Violence in Fiction and Film ,part 1 of 3 at Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap
- March 25 - How, When, and Why to Write About Violence in Fiction and Film, part 2 0f 3 at Free Spirit
My first question would be: What do your high school students think about The Resqueth Revolution?