Sunday, October 28, 2007

Alternatives to Violence (AVP)

Our Quaker meeting is in the midst of this workshop right now, with participants taking a break for ordinary Meeting for Worship with the rest of us (I'm sitting this one out).

Part of me wants to call AVP "Quakers' answer to est" but that's a very esoteric thing to say, in part because no one remembers est anymore, which wasn't violent, but was edgy and austere (the way Quakers sometimes get, or "stern" as we say), with a lot of zen heritage.

Mostly I just make a joke connection between two dots: AVP the workshop and AVP the movie (Alien Versus Predator, a campy monster flick, very violent, with pretty good special effects).

But I am making a deeper point with such humor: that I think screen violence has its place, including in the lives of pacifists. "Theatrical violence" might be another term for it, "war movies" another.

We've always had such, and if it's not beautifully synthesized, like the ancient Greeks managed (along with many other delicate, studious civilizations) then it tends to get recklessly and inappropriately acted out by immature players who forget the alternatives part.

And those Buddhist depictions of hell aren't for sissies either, let's be honest.

We really need good screenwriters, storytellers, to help us stay sane, plus all kinds of other stuff (I'm not putting everything on the backs of the Screen Actors Guild, poor darlings). Props, sets.

Sometimes one hears me saying cutting things about AVP, like maybe it's too namby-pamby, e.g. maybe "not prison-based enough" (whatever that means). I cop to being polemical (ineffectively if hypocritical) but it's really in this spirit of wanting to foster competition among trainings, to keep the upgrades coming.

I think monoculture breeds good-for-nothingness after awhile. Monopolies tend to not work.

When Jesus said he came with a sword, yet preached non- violence, I think this is what he meant: we're supposed to "battle for God" (goddesses, gods, no God, whatever), as that keeps our diverse schools of thought intelligently engaged, flexible, adaptable, not frozen in dogmatic, calcified shapes, like ice sculptures.

A kind of inward/outward combat or competitive world game among schools hardly needs to be encouraged, as I'm simply describing the long term status quo. Only the names of the players keep changing, and yes, well, the rules too over time, the names of the games (links to Wittgenstein).

What we need to encourage is the practice of keeping the combat metaphysically high level, inward, non-violent, psychological, in the realm of the big screen, theater & television, with lots of good writers helping to steer.

More success along those lines would spell dramatically higher living standards for most people, including for many of those terrorists now actively working to kill our hopes for a better future.