Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Story Notes for "Power is Better Than Love"

Yesterday's story, "Power is Better Than Love," came to me in March, at the beginning of the Libyan uprising, though I had all the petty dictators and potentates throughout history in mind, (even those I've encountered at the day job).

Although it didn't turn out to be the center of the story, the thing that inspired this most was the concept of the loyalist. People who gave love and loyalty involuntarily, and yet are as dependent on it as the dictator. Whether it's Stockholm Syndrome of the abused becoming psychologically dependent on the abuser, or those who threw in with evil to save themselves and then realize they'd cut off their options, to those who simply had no loyalty or love and go with whatever seems safest at the moment.

That's the only kind of love or loyalty a dictator understands.

I don't know if I can say that this is a very good story. It almost isn't a story. It's almost an essay in narrative form.

Which makes it a parable -- a teaching story which illustrates a point. (Not quite the same as a fable, which is all aimed at a specific lesson, and therefore more manipulated. The parable doesn't have a "moral" at the end so much as an illumination. The whole thing is structured to shed light in a symbolic way on motives and behaviors.)

And that's what all fiction and drama does for us, but in a less intellectual way. Regular fiction is more immersive. It takes you into the experience more fully and trusts you to see for yourself. In that way, real fiction is more powerful in getting across ideas. Parables are largely for people who agree with you, but who may not have thought fully about why.

Ironically, I think the dictator in this story would be the first to understand it, and agree with it, if he were told the story as if it happened to someone else. He only missed what was going on because he was an egotist. He knew that love for him wasn't real. He didn't understand only because no other kind of love mattered to him.

See you in the funny papers.

No comments: