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C12P08 – Excuse

C12P08 – Excuse published on 4 Comments on C12P08 – Excuse

Kali and Mizha continue the conversation they started before they left the temple. Many days have been spent wheedling this information out of Mizha, I suspect. Although the fact that Kali has been successful means that either she’s more stubborn than any person Mizha’s yet encountered (very probable) or they’re well on their way to becoming BFFs (also likely) or both.

What is it about the truth that humans struggle with so much? We want to know it, but often only when it comes delivered in a certain package that’s easy to digest. I know I’ve struggled with processing valid points independent of the emotional content that framed them. Perhaps it’s also that truth is relative. Nobody has the whole story. Just their own perspective, and the additional data points provided by the truth of others, whether gleaned from personal stories or books.

I’ve been listening to a new podcast that makes me think a lot about the need for narrative and relative truth. It’s called LORE, and the tagline is “Sometimes the Truth is More Frightening Than Fiction.” It’s a podcast about where myth and legend intersect with the often far more unsettling facts. I’m really enjoying it, but it’s not a podcast I can 100% recommend without a warning: Human beings can be monsters to each other, and the gruesome details of that are not for the faint of heart. Violence, assault, and stomach-turning bloodshed are not uncommon. I find them simultaneously easier and harder to deal with when the events described are actually true. Easier, because they are not imagined by an author to titillate. Harder, because it means that these were things that real people did to real people, and not a metaphor for something else.

One of the things that’s struck me is how often the myth, terrifying and unsettling though it may be, is often easier to hear than the grains of truth behind it. Almost as if people invented something terrifying to actually numb the horror of the truth. Couched in stories of The Other, people can pretend that a normal person, such as themselves, could never be capable of such acts. In an odd way, perhaps it becomes a way for people to assure themselves that no matter how much they lose their temper, lash out, degrade, or despise someone else, at least they’re not a monster. As though somehow the legend of a terrible creature allows folks to ignore their own bad habits. The Thing that’s outside isn’t a neighbor or a relative or a friend. It’s a demon, a witch, a beast. And above all, it isn’t you and it isn’t me.

By creating terrifying scary stories, we create a safe space for our own darker impulses to hide in.

And that’s a truth I find scarier than any ghost story.

What is your favorite legend, ancient or urban, scary or otherwise? What do you think it says about the culture that created it?

4 Comments

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On the flip side, reducing something horrific to mythic form makes it palatable enough to actually think about and process sometimes. That’s one of the reasons I love scifi. Phrase a problem in terms of current issues, my brain kind of shuts down. I try so hard to keep track of ground truth in the midst of the noise that I have no brainpower left to understand where people are coming from. Turn it into a fantastical equivalent problem, though, and I can empathize with people on both sides of the debate, understand why they feel the way they do, and look for the critical points where they might be swayed.

You raise a really good point. I’ve experienced that myself with the books I’ve been reading. Autobiographies and history texts expand my knowledge and challenge my perspective, but harshly. Sometimes there are just too many bitter truths to process. After a while I find myself craving something that will challenge me in a gentler way. Let me look at ideas and problems in a different way than harsh facts. Often those subtler messages give me just as much to think of. Just in a totally different way.

I find it interesting that this idea of holding back the truth keeps coming up in this chapter. Zhiro only tells the truth to his diary pages; Mizha doesn’t like to tell anyone the truth because it might hurt them. Tama tells too much truth, much too often. Kali’s approach is a little more balanced, but only a little. She doesn’t have a lot of regard for the feelings of others, either, which means that yeah, you get the truth out there, but that doesn’t mean much if they won’t listen to you. Nobody’s right! Everybody’s flawed! Clearly this calls for a lifechanging field trip with Zuko.

My favorite ghost story is “The Girl with the Red Ribbon,” about a girl who always wears a red ribbon around her neck because it’s holding her head on.

It’s always time for a lifechanging field trip with Zuko. Especially with this group.

The Girl with the Red Ribbon is a really interesting legend. I’ve heard a lot of different versions, most of them tragic, but a few that have happy endings. I suspect the tragic ones are the older versions of the tale.

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