Time and the Cynic

In 1898 H. G. Wells wrote his most famous novel “The Time Machine”. In the novel, for those of you who haven’t yet read it, a Victorian man invents a machine that allows him to travel into either the future or the past. As such, he travels 800,000 years into the future and while there he finds a society completely different from the one he has become accustomed to, a society inhabited by the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi, on first appearances,, appear to live an idyllic life, but the time traveller makes the discovery that there is in fact a horrendous price that they must pay.

Looking back to some of the greatest novels every written and you can see that writers such as Wells, Dick and Orwell commented on their own current society. They would question the trajectory of “current” trends of the times, question what reality actually was and they would subtly disclose their fears of the future.

Stephen Hawking himself at one point suggested that time travel must be impossible, for the sole reason that if it were possible then we would have had visitors from the future. Since we have therefore never seen a tourist from the future he concluded that time travel indeed must be impossible.

There are many arguments to this point of course, many different ways of trying to refute Hawking’s argument. Some people say that if tourists did come from the future then they simply may not interested in us. Others say that perhaps they know the ramifications of letting themselves be known to others as being from the future. My personal theory (and this is a huge hypothetical “if”) is that in this day and age, where scepticism and the need to cry insanity is but second nature, would we openly accept that someone is from the future? That’s a question that only you yourself can answer. For all I would love the idea of time travel to be a reality, the possibility of seeing days long gone,  I know that deep down if someone claimed to be from the future that I would in no way believe them, I would want to believe them and I would try my hardest to do so.

Where do we draw the line between reality and fiction? Why are we as a planet so cynical of everything that is placed in front of our eyes? In C.S Lewis “The Last Battle” there is a point where the dwarves don’t believe that what they are seeing are flowers and grass and birds, instead they think it’s all just faeces, even though it is directly in front of them. As a planet, we often find ourselves being just as cynical of what we’re seeing. Is is down to years and years of media manipulation? Or is it just a natural evolution? I can’t answer that, I don’t think anyone can answer that.

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde

Cynicism masquerades itself as wisdom, but in reality that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cynics don’t learn anything and that’s simply because cynicism itself is a self-imposed blindness. It is a rejection of this world and it’s because we are afraid that it will in some way hurt us or let us down. Cynics always and without fail say no. This is because they don’t realise that saying “yes” causes things to begin. Saying “yes” is how to make things grow or that saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people and old people, it’s for everyone.

I think that part of my unrelenting quest to never let myself grow up comes down to a fear of cynicism. I just don’t think that I’m quite ready enough to let the youthfulness inside of me die. Not if maturity means becoming a cynic, not if you have to destroy the part of yourself that is naive and idealistic. That should be the part of you that you treasure most of all. Surely living life with the hope of idealisms is a good thing? Is it not better to die young but with your humanity intact?

So as I mentioned earlier. If someone met you randomly and told you that they were from the future, would you believe them?

One Less Gruff Billy Goat

The idea of fairy tales is one full of intrigue and mystique, almost all of us will have read a fairy tale at some point in our lives and without question every one of us knows of a fairy tale character. With the smallest amount of legerdemain the entire premise of a story can change, heroes can be either unlikely children or charming princes, villains can be witches or trolls. The possibilities within fairy tales are endless and the message is always one of hope.

The very first fairy tale that I can remember from my childhood was ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’. The premise is that three goats, discovering that where they live no longer has any grass for them to eat, set out to find new pastures so that they can become fat. However, their journey must take them across the river, where dwells a troll under a bridge. The first goat passes over the bridge but gets stopped by the troll who threatens to “gobble him up” (gobble him up is one of those lines that makes me laugh for no apparent reason) however the goat persuades the troll to wait for the second goat because he’s bigger and more of a meal so the troll lets him pass. The second goat comes along and the same thing happens as before and so then the third goat enters. I’ll stop it there, because I think that most people know how ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ ends, if you don’t then go and Google it.

Of course all fairy tales end with the standard “happily ever after” although recently I read “Arabian Nights” which is a collection of Asian fairy tales and they end with “they all lived happily until there came to them the One Who Destroys All Happiness” which I found odd yet poetic. ‘The One Who Destroys All Happiness’ meaning Death, the Grim Reaper as he’s also known. I was slightly taken aback at first, here were some fairy tales full of hope and suddenly they were cementing the fact that nobody lives “happily ever after” because death catches up to everyone.

The very first fairy tales are attributed to Aesop who lived in Ancient Greece around 620–564 BCE (slightly before our time I imagine). The power of fairy tales is so strong and so resilient that over two thousand years later some of Aesop’s’ tales are still being told to this day. I’m sure you will have heard of at least one of them, the main one that I can think of right now is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. That story became so popular that two hundred years after it was written it became one of Zeno’s paradoxes (Google them, extremely interesting and thought provoking, the Arrow paradox is my personal favourite)

The Brothers Grimm famously wrote some of the most celebrated fairy tales in our history. Two German brothers, who were academics and even lexicographers, crafted some of the worlds greatest imaginary and magical characters. Although The Brothers Grimm did centralise their fairy tales on more darker hues they still resonated through the years with so many different people, even psychologist who felt the need to analyse them.

The fairy tale is an escape from reality, like most forms of entertainment. I do believe however that fairy tales give more power to the reader and open the imagination slightly more than any other form of literature and I’m saying that as an avid science-fiction fanatic. Whether it’s something written by Alexander Afanasyev or Hans Christian Andersen, fairy tales have the power to take you to a place where good almost always wins. The fairy tale is a door to the unknown world of endless possibilities where life feels good, Walt Disney realised that and that’s why he cashed in on so many popular fairy tales.

Nowadays people don’t write fairy tales, it’s somewhat a thing of the past which saddens me. My Dad used to make up fairy tales for me each night and they always made me so happy. They were tales of a young boy called Billy who lived in a house with a green roof. Billy went swimming with sharks and had magic powers, he loved ice cream and was my hero. My Dad doesn’t remember how any of those stories went and I was too young to retain the proper memories of them which is a crying shame because I would love to remember them in full.

The power of fairy tales will live on because they should live on. Albert Einstein once famously said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Can anyone really disprove that? Fairy tales are more than just true and not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Every fairy tale has meaning and every single one is based on the same idea, the idea that peace and happiness can exist no matter what stands in your way.

“In a utilitarian age, of all other times, it is a matter of grave importance that fairy tales should be respected.”Charles Dickens

Back to business…

For just over a month this blog has sat in silence, not a peep, not a hint of anything new. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that in my mind I am either in one of two moods. The first one is where I have too much to say and so could write for days on end, compiling novels from my thoughts. The seconds is where I have nothing that I deem interesting to say, no matter how hard I try to string words together they just aren’t interesting enough to write. For the first two weeks of this blog being quiet, I was in the latter mood. I could not think of anything worth writing, and as much as that is one of my two moods, it’s a very rare occurrence. I never find myself struggling to write or indeed come up with ideas for something to write. I have however returned to write down the inner workings of my mind, for you to read, whether you find it enjoyable or not is a different matter.

With Doctor Who off of our television screens, I often find myself at a loss of what to watch. I have my usual light viewing shows such as Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (which is a new addition) and The Walking Dead. I do find myself lacking that “addictive” viewing that I get during the series’ of Doctor Who, that is until January comes around and the road to Wrestlemania begins. I suppose that my childhood obsession with wrestling will always be with me, I figured that if I reached 25 and was still interested in it then it would be a lifelong thing. I’m well past 25 now and it still excites me, especially between January and April when Wrestlemania rolls around.

Last night I watched “Insane Fight Club” which followed the Glasgow wrestling promotion “Insane Championship Wrestling”. I’ve not been to an ICW show in just over a year and it pains me that I haven’t been but something always comes up and I can’t make it. However last nights show proved what I’ve been saying for years ICW are on their way to the top.

I read yesterday that Kevin Smith is to return to writing comics, this time for a Batman meets Green Hornet 12 issue run. For me, two of my favourite comic book story arcs have been written by Kevin Smith – the Daredevil arc “Guardian Devil” and the Batman limited arc “Cacophony” so hearing that he’s returning to write another arc is exciting.

Speaking of Kevin Smith, today the Jay and Silent Bob UK Tour was announced. I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed that Scotland isn’t on the tour. It’s something that happens regularly with touring acts, they announce a UK tour but leave Scotland out. It gets frustrating after a while and eventually it will get to the point where I stop caring.

This years seems to be passing by far too fast, something that isn’t new. Every year passes fast but as year arrives they seem to disappear quicker than the one previous. It reached a point the other day where I started looking back at previous years and thinking to myself “that was 16 years ago” or “that was 20 years ago, it only feels like 2 years”. It’s scary how quickly time passes, soon it will be gone and I’ll be a decrepit old man roaming around the streets talking to myself about the days when Ipods and Ipads were popular.

On a final note, as most people will know I’m not the mst patient when it comes to waiting for American shows to air over here (I can’t even wait 19 hours for the Walking Dead) so it should come as no surprise that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is always on my Wednesday morning “to do” list. This weeks S.H.I.E.L.D was an excellent episode. I love anything with Asgardians, the trouble these days is that with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I was worrying that Thor would be the only one to get any sort of exposure and so it was great to see Lady Sif and Lorelei this week. Lorelei has always fascinated me as a character and seeing her brought to life was brilliant.