Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deer, Dexter, and the Darkness within...

So it was another frosty morning today, seriously frosty. However, because it's Wednesday and not Monday, I had enough mental faculties to actually leave the lovely warmth of my flat and go downstairs to start my car. I also managed to put the kettle on so I could make a cup of tea. I don't know why I dind't think about doing that before. I love tea. I even have a tea drawer. It's a drawer. Filled with tea. I have a lot of flavours. My favourite though is still good old PG Tips with milk and sugar. What can I say? I'm British, genetically wired to drink tea and loathe the French.

So I'm drinking the tea. I can't say I truly loathe the French though. As a group, I have a healthy bias towards them, especially when I read the history between Britain and France. Now, granted, Britain wasn't exactly, um, nice to France either. I mean, face it, we were a pretty ruthless lot. And yes, we did try to take their country over more than a couple of times. We even succeeded once or twice (Go, Henry VIII!). I like Henry the VIII...well, except when he started going mad and chopping off his wife's heads. He fascinates me. Awful man and yet...intriguing. . He was always trying to take over France. And I'm sure he liked tea too. See, I can't help it? My roots are deep.

Anyway, I digress. If you haven't noticed, I'm really good at digressing. It's a speciality of mine. So, while I was making my tea, I took a look outside my patio doors. It was finally light enough to see outside. I have a lovely view of some woods. This morning, there were three deer, loping through the field that overlaps the apartment property line. They were the first deer I've seen since I've moved. They were big deer. I took a moment to admire them and be excited that I was seeing deer in the field and then my brain said, "I hope no one shoots them."

Now, this disturbed me. I mean, here I was, looking at nature's creations in their natural habitat. They were just out for a morning stroll, I'm sure. I was fortunate enough to see them. The ground was silver with its frozen top layer, there were fingers of glittery ice frosted on my window and now there were deer. It was a beautiful thing. And yet, my brain didn't stop to think about all that. It just wanted to make sure that there wasn't going to be a Bambi's mother-type-tragedy.

I suppose it's not that abnormal. I mean, I do watch "Dexter." It's a show about a sociopathic serial-killer. Dexter only kills bad people though; his targets are criminals who would strike again and again because they slip through the legal system and are relased back onto the streets. Dexter stops them, stalking his prey until it's time to strike. When he strikes, it's precise and clean, almost always planned and plotted. He usually slices their throats. It's quick and slightly messy, a contradiction to the way he captured his victims. And, week after week, I root for Dexter to kill someone. When he doesn't, it's disappointing and I feel cheated. Michael C. Hall does such an awesome job of playing Dexter; there are nuances to his character that are perfect. He's likeable and brilliant. Yet he's a murderer, a serial killer.

I think the reason I love Dexter is because almost all of us have a bit of a dark streak in us. We let it lay dormant though it might express itself in fights with loved ones, bad days at work, playing those shoot-em-up video games a bit too enthusiastically. I let it come out when I write; I let all the darkness inside of me flow into a scene or a character and the darkness is no longer inside me, I've fed the beast, so to speak. Other people have other ways of feeding their beasts. You can read the innuendo into that, if you like. It's all tied together. Just ask Freud. But, regardless, everyone has their ways. Dexter acts on his darkness, which, coincidentally, he calls his "Dark Passenger."

I tried reading the "Dexter" books but the character felt flat, over-the-top. I pictured him looking like the Dexter on TV and the characters didn't quite mesh. The Dexter on my TV has a grace to him, a balletic way of letting the Dark Passenger take over. The Dexter in the book lacked that, I think. As a writer, I shouldn't be endorsing that you watch TV instead of reading but, in this case, I don't think there's any harm. After all, the books were the reason the TV show came into being so yay, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter series.

The reason I like Dexter is that he allows us to live vicariously through him. He's a sociopath so killing doesn't bother him. It would bother us. Even in our darkest periods, few of us really want to see the blood on our hands and reap the consequences of what we sew. For Dexter, always eluding discovery or detection of his bad habit of murding people, it's just something he has to do to quiet that the dark tide that washes over him and blinds him to everything but his need to satisfy the urge to kill. I don't want to kill and I don't have urges so dark I'd even imagine it. But Dexter is a fantasy show, one that lets me escape into a world that sneakily and bemusedly presents him as a hero, doing away with the scum of the earth so that it's safer for the good

So, back to the deer in the field...I think the reason my brain was worried about them getting shot is because it's likely they could be. Hunters are everywhere, Dexter-like in their stalking of their prey, fulfilling a need within to capture and conquer their victims. Those deer aren't guilty though, like Dexter's victims. At least, I don't think so though their could be a whole secret subsociety of deer living in the woods in which Killer Deer could be lurking. Oh, deer. (ok, that was bad...I couldn't resist).

I don't want those deer to get shot or killed. I like to see them ambling across the field. I like to watch them, unobserved, as the simplicity of their life infects mine, just for a moment or two.

So maybe my brain was right to hope they didn't get shot. It definitely gave me something to digress about. I never did like made me sad. Funny how my morals feel guilty about a dead deer but allow me to enjoy the craft of a fictional serial killer.

Then again, I do come from a place that produced Henry VIII, a man who solved marital difficulties by decapitation. Rule Brittania!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

You are seriously having these thoughts and writing them at 5:21 AM??? Sam, your brain amazes me. But the post is good...I have been meaning to check out "Dexter" so I'm not surprised to learn you are already a fan.

I'm a Henry VIII fan, too - but more because he is a fascinating political figure to study. And no one makes a cup of tea the way you do.