Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jonathan Metzger's Reconstructing a New History for Man

What happens after the fall of Man or after a War? Reconstruction, of course. It has been the way of the world from time immemorial. Men, with their swords, horses, guns, arrows and bombs, blast the hell out of each other, and after everyone is tired of playing the game of 'Annihilation', the tired, weary warriors limp home, lick their wounds and figure out how to re-group and re-strike, or they go home and try to reconstruct their past lives.Whether they be men, or boys acting like men, this is a constant international past-time, and one that has real consequences when the boys 'grow up'.

Metzger is describing an activity 'boys' frequently do prior to growing up. They play make believe. Here, we see them playing in a field, where the grass has long worn away. In it, we see rocks and twigs, sticks and a discarded tennis shoe. The ground has been 'staked off' with sticks thrust upright into the ground, creating a sort of demarcation line. Meanwhile the boys are hard at work. They have gathered more of  sticks and are making a makeshift lean-to, or building some sort of shelter. The boys are dirty, and grimy from their labors. They are intent on their task. They are constructing their own universe, a new history for themselves and will defend it to the death. Such is the way of boys and men....

The surrounding blackness which encircles them could either be a thicket of twigs or a cave that they are building the shelter in, or it could also be a billowing cloud of dust from their activity - like the one forever shadowing "Pig Pen" in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Both options seem likely.

In the distance, there are glimpses of houses and more stable, grown up structures, but the boys are intent on creating their own. They are in their imaginary world of survival, and will go on constructing their universe until a call from Mom lets them know dinner is ready. All this reminds me how my cousins and I used to do the same things with our Tonka Trucks and a pile of earth. All of it was serious, and important, and we knew that if we were to move that pile of earth we had to work together. We were so grown up back then, and knew how the world worked.

Stretching this a bit, the same attitude could be said of the Wall Streeters and Occupy movement currently running around this country. There is no 'war' afoot, but there is unrest. People are participating together for the first time in decades in activities no different than these boys - trying to build shelters and making their own voices heard, making their own little universes in public parks, and civic centers. It is serious and grass-roots and taken on with the same enthusiasm of these two boys in 'their survival world'. The real world hasn't ended yet, but if it does crash and burn, the boys and the occupy-ers will know how to start over - with their own two hands and their ingenuity and their desire to make the world a better place.

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