Danger and Dreams and Draft Beer

Oddly enough, we live in a world of danger. Quite enough danger, thank you very much, so why is it that a great deal of books written these days devote themselves to danger and death (and the occasional draft beer)? Is it sublimation? A way for the unconscious to articulate and corral the actual dangers of our world into something controllable (that can be burned, in the case of a paperback, or thrown across the room, in the case of a kindle, nook, etc)?

Who knows?

Who cares?

At any rate, it’s intriguing to consider the dangers that abound. A plethora of dangers. You could easily die in a car accident, pretty much any day of the week (unless you live in a place like the inner Sahara, where there are few cars, but where you will probably die of dehydration, quicksand, raging Bedouins, viper bite, camel stampede, invasion by neighboring dictator, Ebola, etc–so I don’t think you, in that situation, need to be much concerned about car accidents). That’s the easy one.

Or, you could die from a black widow spider bite. Or a brown recluse bite. Or a puff adder, rattlesnake, pit viper, black mamba, asp, adder. Or a crazed meth-addict who, hallucinating, mistakes you for a yeti and, concurrently, believes there’s a hot market for yeti pelts in Hong Kong. Or a tiny asteroid falling to Earth that has your name on it. Or a stout man, preoccupied and texting his girlfriend as he drives his golf cart (while you are sunbathing on the 6th green of the local golf course–you really should sunbathe at home, in your back yard, or at the beach).

Or you could die due to the sudden application of a concrete garden gnome that Mrs. Melba Schwartzenbaum throws out of her ninth story apartment window, under the mistaken belief that it is actually a diminutive house-breaker wishing to steal her silver spoons (the gnome, of course, falls on your head while you’re walking on the sidewalk below–you should’ve driven to work [sometimes being green does not pay]). Or you could die of boredom while waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Or, your plane could get shot down by Russian-backed Vermont separatists. Or, attending a Justin Bieber concert due to losing a bet, you could be crushed under the stiletto-heeled hooves of a stampede of shrieking females (you have my sympathies–to die with such a soundtrack playing in the background would be doubly crushing). Or you could choke on a morsel of tender, succulent lobster, an insignificant portion of a larger meal served with crusty garlic bread, boiled new potatoes in mint sauce, scallops, and a cold draft beer (you see, beer does show up at peculiar times, such as in monasteries during the Dark Ages).

Or, depending on your mental prowess (or lack thereof), you could die after converting your beach chair into a flying contraption by attaching several hundred helium balloons to it, bringing along a canister of Slim Jims, a bottle of water, and the latest John Grisham book, after which you float up into the sky, soaring up and up and up, toward the heavens, only to have a significant number of your balloons attacked by a murder of crows, thus sending you plummeting into the smoke stacks of your local electric power plant (there are certain, small advantages to solar, I suppose).

I hope you have the point by now. Life has plenty of danger on its own. All the more reason to read P. G. Wodehouse, rather than the latest shoot-em-up. All the more reason to consider carefully why you are not living in Mosul, rather than Mr. G. Ibrahim (late, of Mosul). All the more reason to be rather thankful.

4 thoughts on “Danger and Dreams and Draft Beer”

  1. My, someone’s feeling awfully cheery nd optimistic. Life is full of good books, ready to be read and waiting to be written.

    1. Ready to be read…I’ll take that. Yeah, the whole ISIS horror is getting me down. Something needs to be done.

  2. Hmm. It seems to me that a great many of your sudden-death scenarios detailed above revolve around someone being delusional, or otherwise mentally disturbed. What does that say about your state of mind?

    However, to be serious, why do we read/write/shoot/watch so many books and movies that abound in danger? Because they’re a vicarious way to experience a solution to the violence and danger that surrounds us. We watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” yesterday (which, incidentally, has a bad guy named Ronan in it – I thought you might find that interesting), and I’m sure I’m not giving away anything when I reveal that the good guys win at the end. You walk away from an viewing/reading experience like that feeling empowered – “we” (as in, we the viewers, in our idenfication with the main characters) defeated some nasty bad guys, and made the galaxy safe again for women and children and small fluffy creatures. It gives us hope that it can happen in real life, too.

    However, bring on the Wodehouse – I can only stand so many deep space explosions.

    1. Really? I’ll have to see that. Looks like a fun story. Yeah, you’re right (you seem to be always right!) about the vicarious empowerment. Though, what does that say about the modern wave of nihilism in literature? Somewhat unsettling implications.

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