“The ability to fantasize is the ability to survive,” Ray Bradbury said in 1967. Well, I’ve survived longer than I expected or deserve, and some of the credit/blame is certainly shared by my imagination. Upon Bradbury’s recent passing, I had to remind myself that he never said “…guarantee to survive” yet I was no less saddened by the unfillable void he’s left us and I’ll treasure the program for the film The Illustrated Man that he autographed and sent me back in 1968 until my impending relocation in his mysterious new land.
We both loved monster movies. Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, and such I can no longer speak of as characters in”horror movies” since that term has come to commonly entail those entrail-squeezing sadists’ delights that pass for modern entertainment.
I fell in love with them when I was seven, and they never scared me. I just loved the fantasy elements, fully realizing the impossibility if it all but joyously immersing myself in the otherworldliness, the play acting, and artistry and that love has lasted many decades. Any time the abnormal intrudes on the normal, I’ll want to be around. Heck, that’s why I’m here in this paper.
I’ve always had a suspicion that, if time travel were possible and we were able to extract one random English-speaking person from…. oh, let’s say 2012 BC and suddenly transport him or her to our modern world, we would truly have accomplished the impossible.
For the sake of expedition, I’ll call our time traveler “One” and for the sake of possible salacious ideas I’ll make One a female — youthful, fertile, and gorgeous. No, don’t start thinking like that, you perv, this is my happening and it freaks me out (to quote Roger Ebert.)
If One were to be dropped initially into a cosmopolitan area in a continent other than our own, I imagine the culture shock alone would be capable of causing an aneurism in the typical transplant, but our girl One, as I’ve said, is female and, therefore, either “slow on the uptake” or “strong” and “invincible” like I’m told they were sometime a long time ago. Anyway, her inability to verbally communicate with all these foreigners would immediately squelch any ideas she might entertain about social climbing or even a meaningful night on the town.
However, if she were to suddenly land in downtown San Diego, where a number of inhabitants can speak passable English, I believe One would be slightly less compromised. It would take some getting used to, sure, but it could all work out if she faced her new surroundings calmly and with a bit of that indomitable American spirit to explore and discover and look hot and make lots of bucks.
Hello, darlin’, my name’s Buck.
No, I couldn’t count on meeting her personally, and even if I had that opportunity, I’d hope to have sense enough to flee it. Why? Because she’s only imaginary to begin with, that’s why, and as anyone who knows me will attest, my grasp on the cold neck of reality is already pretty slippery.
Alright then, but what if it were real, with One being an actual transplant from a past age?
Impossible, you say; to begin with, the English language wasn’t invented until Columbus or King James or Edison or who-evah several years ago. She’d probably be speaking Greek or Roman Numeral or Injun….
I’d love to introduce One to so many things that are special to me, to see if they stick, if they become her passions as well. Things like music and drama, compassion, sarcasm, honesty, tasty food (especially the #15, with onions, at Venice Pizza) orange juice, King Cobra, the Beatles, dirty movies, so much else…. and if she dug it all, I’d probably decide that she’s the One for me.
I’d keep her away from violence and gangs and hatred, politicians, most famous people and anyone who has millions and wants millions more, rap, and the word “cool.” Then I’d take her home, bathe her and make beautiful music together until she begins to bore me or until someone even more awesome comes along, whichever happens first.
Then she’d be transported back to her own time where no one would believe her and they’d say she’s bewitched and they’d stone her to death all because of me and my twisted imagination and I’d be consumed with guilt for all of my remaining days.
How would One take to our modern amusements? Would she be a stickler for realism or as duplicitous as I am?
I’ve never been able to extend my comfort with fantasy to the other, realistic dramas that continue to burn the box offices, when they feature a sort of imposed fantasy that the public gets so used to, they can’t detect the utter absurdity behind it.
I think of movies about World War II and the Nazis speaking English with German accents.
For that matter, even on television documentaries, when a person is speaking in a foreign tongue to an off-camera interviewer, the English language dub-over is always done by an actor using the imagined accent of the speaker. The worst is always impoverished children: “Vee haf no food… nutteeng to eat foe days…” all courtesy of some earnest actress and insulting producer. Just gimme some subtitles, dammit.
Or in a movie or television show, people are watching a videotape on a television. Someone says, “Oh, let’s see that part again!” Someone else hits the rewind button and you observe the image on the TV reversing, accompanied by that squeaky, sped-up backward sound until the replay point is reached.
I go ballistic every time I see this happen, and believe me, I’ve seen it thousands of times. My reality, based in fantasy, has been brutally assaulted by “creative” people with some sort of agenda or a bunch of idiots, or both. Once and for all, America: rewinding-with-picture on a VCR is silent; the audio does not engage!
Now I imagine taking our delectable traveler One to an ultra-popular Academy-Award winning drama that everybody says is a masterpiece. It’s a thriller and it was certainly thrilling the hell out of us until, late in the show, two principal characters are reluctantly parting and one offers the other her phone number. “You will call me, won’t you? It’s 555-4733…”
Lose or rewrite that scene, please, and never five-five-five me again, I beg you. You’ve raped the reality of your fantasy and affronted mine, and I’m not One who might take it lying down.