Issue 62

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Supernatural - Tall Tales

I suppose it's all in the perception. I suppose. Perceive. Type.

You could look at a disco ball and see a sad representation of a dead musical style. Perhaps you'd smile at the kitsch and want one for your next retro-party (we have both a colored light ball and a black light, and… well, okay we’re the sort of people who are planning a Dante themed dinner party complete with rose cake, icing angels, and rainbows. But I digress).

You might look at the disco ball and see a sphere covered in mirrors that capture illumination and rather than casting shadows, refract light onto every surface.

Bright and shiny, like the sort of thing that catches a Raven's eye. Like Sif's golden hair to tempt a Loki. Like Anansi capturing the impossible so he could have the bright shiny of all Tiger's stories.

Because Tricksters are story tellers. Most of the time. Which is to say that all story tellers are lying liars who lie. Making up a new world to get their way or save the day. Like Raven freeing the hidden sun. Like Smoking Mirror conning the sun into letting music into the world. Like boys who claim to be FBI and security repair men and priests and costumes and shapes. To save the day. To get laid.

Calling Major Tom. You are not a talent scout.


Perhaps in Tall Tales the woman at the bar was an Anthropology student, although possibly not wearing a velvet cocktail dress. Perhaps she was classy and tipsy. Perhaps she was very flattering of Dean's looks, although possibly not entirely blinded by the sun. Perhaps, everything was true and nothing was true and perhaps that's the point of a Trickster. Unsettle and spin and flash a light in your eye while stealing your wallet. But I get ahead of myself.

Which is all to say that Supernatural has been hitting a lot of my of my kinks recently. Each week after an episode, I'll really want to write a long essay about this or that or the chewy goodness of the other.

This is my favorite stage in watching a show. When the richness of the text becomes so full of patterns and signs that I can't help but want to sing about it. But since, of course, I blew my voice out many years ago at a Metallica concert (good concert, totally worth being mute for 3 days), it's best my singing of praises be kept to my fingers on a keyboard. And even that, I'm sad to say, all I've really had time for has been, a quick, hmmm... interesting, and move along.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyway... Tall Tales. The latest in a series of episodes within a season within a series that is so often about what people do and do not see. Understand. Perceive.
What the world thinks is real. What the boys know to be real. Learn to be real through each adventure. Each piece in the puzzle. Angels and unicorns and aliens. Oh, my.

It's evocative that Supernatural chose to have a story about stories immediately after one in which one of the characters took back control of his own storyline. Rejecting the kill his brother narratives of others to decide that no, he was going to choose saving someone.

One of my favorite authors talks about prayer as showing up. Not prayer as quiet still, but of motion. The action of placing one foot in front of the other. I imagine spinning wheels. Four of them. Spinning down the black top in a show that so often is about small victories. Saving single individuals, not the world entire.

Pauses briefly for a micro macro moment of excited atoms and milky way revolving stars. So, many suns in so many colors. Raven let them free too. But really, I am getting far off a field.

So, back into the micro, point of view fascinates me. Both in my career, which is about communicating ideas, and in fiction, where pov is one of the few ways to really get at the various and myriad ways different people see the world.

In part because fictional people only have as many layers or perceptions as the writers give them.

Take for example, Sam telling Dean that he prays in Houses of the Holy. Dean's response is to say that you think you know a guy. A guy I might add that Dean spends (and has spent) practically every living moment of his life.

It's a perception altering statement. Not just the having of faith, but the admitting it aloud. Giving it a place in your own narrative

Now, I quite possibly had less difficulties with this revelation because of my own religious background. But that’s what perception and pov is all about.

At a point in Sam's narrative when he's falling into despair, Sam mentions his faith. Now not to get too theological, without knowing what Sam means by prayer or the words "a long time" it's difficult for me to really understand this statement. Whirling Dervishes are praying. Emptying yourself of thought and focusing on the last lingering note of an organ in a cathedral qualifies. However, if I had to interpret, I'd say Sam means asking an omnipotent force to save him from his destiny. Dean equally looking for a divine of active intervention.

Personally, I'm very curious, now that they've raised the issue, to see how they handle holy water/salt/exorcisms. Depending on how the characters perceive the evidence of their story. Either the evidence of the divine imbues every aspect of their lives, with a particular concentration in the Metallicar trunk, because the divine acts through them every time those things work. Or they can take a humanism approach and believe these things work because of collective belief. Or they can think God (in a capitalized sense) needs a pipe for smiting. Where's Joan when you need her?

A few weeks ago, the sermon (wait no, we're calling them Celebrations - liberal church and all that, and, words do shape meaning. But I digress....) was about the stories that we tell about ourselves. Our minister told two stories about her father. That he made up fantastic bedtime stories for her and her sister when they were children. That he was often absent and judgmental. Both perceptions are equally true (or perhaps the better word is possible), but the question is which story gets the most emphasis in the narrative of her life.

Dean in Playthings telling Sam that their father was an ass for putting this kind of pressure on his child. Dean in Nightshifter telling Agent Hendricks that his father was a hero. Both true. Both possible.

Because in a wider world view, Agent Hendricks is correct, John was a paramilitary something. Raising his sons not to be warriors, but to be wackos leading to a Wako. In a normal world view. Milwaukee has had a sudden rash of people running counter to every moment in their lives and becoming killers. Houses of the Holy Sam gone evil density sinking down, or not. Belief. Faith. Perception.

How well does Dean know Sam? You think you know a guy. Not just the flying buttresses of flyaway hair, but the foundation.

The joke about gender at the end of Houses interests me oddly, in terms of what is presented as masculine and feminine behavior. Shape shifters that can be men and women and wear your own skin. Dean's Tall Tales view of Sam, the irritated most galled version is that he's a killjoy that randomly emotes strangers. Engulfing them in protestations of precious for the world and I feel your pain.

Because while they did play with the sexualized aspect of Tricksters, I'm curious if when(?) "he" returns, if they'll play with some of the gender switch aspects of Tricksters. Loki giving birth. Smoking Mirror appearing as an old woman. The detachable genitals and the constant transformation. Or not. We'll see.

As it was, there was enough in the layers of stories. The seeming omniscient of talking to Bobby. Their stories. Their stories of stories. The stories they weren’t even there for, because they are embedded just that deep. Like the Creature’s tale in Frankenstein, like Tristram Shandy’s uncle’s wound, like the Ouroboros, like the legends that bubble up about every aspect of college life. Life. All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

There's something about that final auditorium. Theater. A set stage with its round bed, not square beneath its unfortunate refracting disco. Ladies of red, fictional figments in a fictional story. Some ancient alphabet (I was thinking runes, but on reflection, I think it was Greek lettering. I could look, but I’m more interested in what I thought, not what it is) on a chalk board.

College props from some play or another. Othello, Street Car, Disco Fever.

The Trickster enacting a play for the boys benefit. The heroes kill the monster. Huzah. Run away.

While the high and mighty are brought low. Disturbing and satisfying, which is why Tricksters tell these stories. Or it could just be because they're funny. Throwing mistletoe darts into the briar patch to see what happens.

Because this is a world where the World Weekly News is sometimes fact and sometimes not. Haunting co-eds, slow dancing aliens, sewer alligators and chain saw massacring fiends. Where Dean does have quite a, err... gusto for life, and Sam can be quite with the empathetic.

Where these are merely perceptions. In the end, it's unspoken words over the car and move along, you're breaking Bobby's heart. His achy breaky Latin speaking trucker heart.

It's all in the perceptions. Never con a conman, except when you do.

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