Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Life Imitating Art

Several news stories popped up over the past couple of days that seemed eerily similar to some TV shows and movies I’ve recently watched.  Sure, all art comes from inspirations we find in our everyday lives, but I find it extremely fascinating when the reverse happens.  It’s like a paradox of sorts—and if you like paradoxes and shameless plugs, check out my book Paradox, available through the links on the header above.

ANYWAY, take for example this story of a boy who wandered out of the woods and into Berlin last year.

He claimed he lived in the forest with his father for years, but when his father died, he buried him and walked five days north to Berlin.  He then quickly adapted to technology and city life after being assigned a legal guardian and cared for by youth services.

Now doesn’t this remind you of the movie Hannah, where the girl is a trained assassin who lives in a forest in Germany with her father?  I mean, there are striking similarities there.  Could he be a real-life Hannah, trained by his rogue assassin father to kill ruthlessly?  Perhaps.  I think more will come from this story as the months progress.

Next we have this story, about a pair of human lungs apparently found on a sidewalk in Los Angeles.

This brought to mind a recent House episode I watched, where House has a pair of lungs and must find out what is medically wrong with them prior to transplanting them into a patient.  The episode was a memorable one because it transitioned House from prison back to the hospital this last season, although the lungs themselves really didn’t play much of a part in the story.  Still, it was shocking to see a pair of lungs removed from a body, and it must have been very frightening to just find them lounging around on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, soaking up the sun’s rays as they sipped at a Pina Colada (that’s my own generalized visualization of what every Californian does each day).  I mean, I know experts say coughing up a lung is not possible, but could they be mistaken?  Were these organs intended for a transplant as the ones in House, but somehow they got lost?  “Hey Joe, did you grab me a cheeseburger?”  “Yeah.”  “And the lungs?  Did you bring them?”  “Oh…uh…”  You know, people find body parts all the time, mostly due to nefarious actions of serial killers and whatnot, but lungs?  Lungs?!?

And finally we have this story out of Middleborough, Massachusetts, where the residents of the town voted to fine people $20 for swearing in public.

They say the law was enacted to prevent teens from swearing in the downtown area and public parks, but when I read this I had to think of the scenes in Demolition Man where Sylvester Stallone’s character is repeatedly fined for swearing by the little machines strategically placed everywhere he goes.  Funny in a movie, but not so much in real life.  Luckily the ACLU is jumping all over this and hopefully putting an end to it.

I don’t mean to begin proselytizing here, but there’s a valid reason why the First Amendment exists and is the first of many amendments to our Constitution.  If you don’t understand why, I suggest you read Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four.  I really hate swearing in public as much as the next guy, and I cringe when someone says something vulgar within earshot of my three-year-old.  And I agree that people should be held accountable for it.  That’s what public nuisance and disturbing the peace laws are for.  Our nation’s laws should not be altered to limit what people have the right to SAY, and as soon as we start changing them to enforce that sort of thing, we begin treading down a treacherous path of sacrificing liberties that our nation was founded upon.

And really, consider the people you know who do swear in public.  I can think of maybe ten to fifteen people that do, and when I consider their lives, i.e. their financial situations and marital statuses and whatnot, I realize that those people are already being punished for their actions.  Sure, swearing in public is just one tiny little nuisance in the grand scheme of things, but those people who do utter expletives around others tend to be the dregs of our society.  Seriously, nobody is going to think of them as a professional, unless of course they are a rock star or have some other talent that trumps their foul-mouthed bad behavior.  Honestly though, do you know anyone in a prestigious position that walks through the grocery store saying “F#%” and “S@#^”?  No, I didn’t think so.

These types of news stories always catch my eye, as some of my stories and novels have had eerie similarities to real life events.  Take for example the mental hospital in my book, Project Utopia, which is based on the mental facility in Pittsburgh on the Pitt campus that was shot up by an assailant in March of this year.  And of course, anyone with ties to the University Pittsburgh knows about the string of bomb threats, some of which targeted the Cathedral of Learning, which also is a setting in that same book.  In April of this year, a shooting on the Oikos University campus in Oakland, California left seven dead, eerily similar to an aspect of my novel, Paradox.  Then a few weeks later, my wife told me a sad story of a young man in Philadelphia who had passed away, and his first initial and last name were an exact match to a character in one of my yet-to-be-published novels.

As a writer, these types of coincidences will tend to rattle you.  I know it’s pure happenstance that some of these events and settings are similar to my novels, and I’m sure many other writers have the same things happen to them.  Still, just a little part of my creative imagination has to wonder if the things I write manifest themselves into reality.  Perhaps I should start writing about an IT worker in his mid-thirties living in Pennsylvania who wins a billion dollars and signs a huge book deal.  Wouldn’t that be something?

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