Musings

[Blog] Lost and Found

One of my favorite tropes has got to be the one where something or someone that was lost and/or destroyed comes back. Sometimes it happens just in time. Sometimes it’s what lets the heroes know that they might have a fighting chance after all. Sometimes it’s one of the heroes themselves that returns. Whatever it is, it’s the sort of thing that gives me chills.

Given the nature of this, there’s going to be some spoilers in the following for Mass Effect 2, Pacific Rim, and the Lord of the Rings. Nothing too major, but if you haven’t read/played/watched, consider yourselves warned!

In Mass Effect, it’s that moment near the beginning of the second game when Commander Shepard gets the Normandy SR2– along with Joker. After the shock of the game’s prologue, which involved the destruction of the Normandy SR1 (which you grow deeply attached to in the first game), along with the death of Shepard him/herself and the scattering of the surviving crew, getting your first indication that the resurrected Shepard might actually have a few familiar things to hold onto in their continuing quest to save the galaxy is a powerful moment.

It’s a very similar scene in Pacific Rim when the rebuilt Gipsy Danger is revealed both to Raleigh in the audience. The last time Raleigh saw Gipsy Danger was in the battle where his brother and copilot was killed and the Jaeger itself was badly damaged. Because the movie has been following Raleigh so closely up to this point, it’s impossible not to catch some of the emotions that Raleigh himself feels at seeing the giant mech again.

Last, but certainly not least, in the Lord of the Rings we have the turning point in the battle at Helm’s Deep, when Gandalf returns with Eomer in tow. I should point out here that the version of this that I personally found most moving is actually the movie version. In the books, it’s a different commander who arrives with Gandalf, as Eomer is already in Helm’s Deep with the others. In the movies, though, it’s the very fact that Eomer was exiled that made it so powerful. Well. That and the gorgeous cinematography as our heroes’ reinforcements arrive from the east on the dawn of the third day.

At first blush, it might not seem like the third example fits with the others all that well, but let me try to explain. In all of these, we have something strong, working for good, that was broken. The Normandy was destroyed. Gipsy Danger was damaged badly enough to put it out of commission. Eomer, despite his loyalty to his king, was forced into exile because of Wormtongue’s machinations. And then, despite all odds, they come back. A new, better Normandy is built and returned to Shepard’s command. Gipsy Danger is repaired and piloted again to save the world. Gandalf brings Eomer back to save the lives of his king (and uncle!) and his people. And it all happened when the audience wasn’t quite expecting it. Or maybe, when the audience wasn’t quite daring to hope for it, because it seemed too impossible. And that, I think, is part of what makes this such a strong storytelling technique.

As a Christian, I find it impossible not to connect this to Christ’s death and resurrection as well. We have the loss in the crucifixion, followed by the period of hopelessness and sorrow and uncertainty about how things were going to go forward. And then he came back. And it wasn’t the end after all.

Musings

[Blog] Liminal

There’s something beautiful about the liminal. I think it’s why we are so fascinated by sunrises and sunsets, and why the twilight and predawn hours have a magic to them. I think it’s why we mark the solstices and the equinoxes, and why the first flower of spring and the first snowflake at the end of fall are so much more exciting than all the others that follow after them. And, perhaps, its why so many myths and legends involve the things and places between.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines liminal as “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition”. Or, in simpler terms: “in-between, transitional”. Way back in college, I remember one of my English professors expounding on how the concept played a significant part in the writings of a specific poet (possibly William Blake?), but for the life of me, I can’t remember exactly what she told us. What I do remember is that the concept didn’t seem to make much sense to me back then, but it must have stuck in my head, because here we are. (That being said, if any of you reading this happen to actually remember what is only flitting around the edges of my memory, please, please share your knowledge in the comments below. I will be forever grateful.)

Most people will be familiar with what Heraclitus said, that “the only constant is change”, and this might begin to offer an explanation for our fascination with the things between. These liminal things are, after all, the closest thing we have to an incarnation of change itself. Summer days may stretch on, each one hot and bright and seemingly the same, but then comes one a little cooler, a little crisper, and the leaves that once were all bright green begin to fade to yellow. And time moves on.

Or maybe it’s something simpler. Maybe the value lies in the fact that these things are, by their nature, somewhat scarce. Night and day both last for hours, but dawn and dusk are much shorter and neither day nor night, despite sharing some similarities with both. There are many humans, and many seals, but only some seals are selkies, with the ability to shed their skins and walk about in human form.

Or maybe these things catch our attention for some other reason, and I’m only grasping at straws. Whatever the reason, though, its hard to deny that they do fascinate us. Why else are there selkies and centaurs and werewolves? Or why else do things happen at the stroke of midnight and the first light of morning?

P.S. Hi everyone! It’s… ah… been a while. Please forgive my sudden and unannounced hiatus. I’m still alive, and really excited to be back. Also, I’m in the middle of Camp NaNoWriMo again, which has been incredibly helpful in the realm of yanking me back towards a daily writing habit. Even if I’m nowhere near my stated goal. Ah, well. I’ll have to catch that white whale another day. (Or buckle down and bump up that wordcount. One or the other.)

Either way, I’ll be back next week with more ramblings. Or excerpts!