“Above all, and it is the supreme characteristic of every monster who has ever been portrayed in a story, he or she is ecocentric. The monster is heartless; unable to feel for others, although this may sometimes be disguised beneath a deceptively charming, kindly or solicitous exterior; it’s only real concern is to look after its own interests, at the expense of everyone else in the world…
“Despite its cunning, its awareness of the reality of the world around it is in important respect limited. Seeing the world through tunnel vision, shaped by its egocentric desires, there is alway something which the monster cannot see and is likely to overlook. That is why, by the true hero, the monster can always be outwitted…”
The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
I am reading a book which I wanted to read from a time when I used to spend more time writing fiction than writing about politics…
Ok, ok, I know that there’s going to be some cheap shot about how politics is all about fiction and truth is relative and…
Let’s just leave all that to one side and possibly come back to it later… Ok, ok, that’s polly speak for I’m never going to mention this again and when you bring it up I’m going to say that we’re already discussed it…
The book is about the seven basic plots and the first one is: “OVERCOMING THE MONSTER!”
So, is the monster Scott Morrison or Rupert Murdoch? In a lot of the mythical stories which Booker quotes in his book, once one has dispatched the initial threat to the village or country, a new, more fearsome and tricky monster emerges to take revenge on the hero for the death of the first… Mm, John Howard becomes only the second sitting PM to lose his seat in a general election and Tony Abbott emerges from the sea to reek his vengeance on the forces that unseated the PM. And while Kevin is severely wounded and incapacitated by Tony and Julia manages to hold him off with the help of the Independents, Tony eventually destroys the government before being devoured by his own hungry fellow travellers. While many rejoice at the defeat of Abbott, the Liberals turn out to be a many-headed hydra where once one head is removed, its place is taken by something even more shocking.
Of course, I’ve always believed that the problem with political discourse is that you define the other side as evil, which justifies many dubious acts because, after all, it’s evil that we’re fighting. In suggesting that he’s a monster, I am ignoring the PM’s request to the Women’s Safety Summit last week where he said, ““I know everyone joining us for this summit wants the same thing. We will go much farther, you know, when we can all appreciate that we are all, from whatever place we are coming from to this summit, earnestly trying to achieve that same goal.” That’s hardly the speech of a monster, is it?
Oh wait, what was it that Booker said again? “The monster is heartless; unable to feel for others, although this may sometimes be disguised beneath a deceptively charming, kindly or solicitous exterior; it’s only real concern is to look after its own interests, at the expense of everyone else in the world…”
Mm, so maybe we need to look to the actions of the various mythical heroes when working out how to defeat the monster. David defeated Goliath, after all, by keeping his distance and scoring with a well-aimed stone. Perseus avoids being turned to stone by not looking directly at Medusa and using the reflection from his shield to locate and kill the Gorgon. Which mythical hero should we emulate?
Or perhaps something more modern? Dorothy defeated the Wizard by simply noticing that behind the screen, he was just an ordinary man… Although that’s been Scott’s defensive play when trouble strikes: “See I’m just a dad who likes making cubbies, curries and chook pens. And I make time from my busy schedule to fly into Canberra and do Prime Ministering as often as I can but getting this work/life balance thing isn’t easy…” And in H.G. Wells “War Of The Worlds”, the unstoppable Martians were defeated by exposure to a simple virus… Mm, sounds like they should have ordered the vaccines sooner.
Whatever, I’m sure that I’m on to something here. Let’s think, modern heroes…
Ah, James Bond. Well, not so much Bond himself, but the fact that the villain always reveals his plans once he has captured James and, once he escapes, he knows exactly what to do. Although, when I think about it, that’s no help because we know exactly what Scotty will do. He’ll schedule a press conference to announce the fact that they have a plan, even if they’re not very specific beyond telling us that they either are announcing an inquiry into The Thing That Needs Fixing or that they already have a plan and this plan is a good one which will totally fix The Thing That Needs Fixing. If any journalist should have the temerity to ask about this at some later stage we know that Scotty will tell us that it’s too early or that it’s too late but at least their plan was a good one even if the “hindsight heroes” are pointing out that it didn’t actually work.
Mm, maybe that’s the answer. We create a character called “Foresight Hero” who goes around telling us what’s going to happen.
I’ll work on it and get back to you. It’s all fine now, because I have a plan!!
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