Monday, December 1, 2014

Source Materials, Odyssey, Experience

There can only be so many plots, right? If you listen to Christopher Booker, there are seven to work with. So in rocking a plot, choose wisely. The farther back you reach, the more likely you'll get to the good stuff. Homer's Odyssey seemed to fascinate James Joyce, as well as Matt Fraction.

Homer hit the ball out of the park (sorry) in such epic fashion the title of his Odyssey now has its own meaning in modern English:

1. a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.

2. an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest.

If I stick with the second definition, I feel like that's a description of my daily life. Booker fits Homer's Odyssey into the "Voyage and Return" category, "the protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to him/her, returns with nothing but experience." He cites "Alice in Wonderland" as another example.

I can relate to that aspect as well--I return from most of my voyages with empty pockets and a full soul.

Fraction has the balls to take on Homer and re-make the Odyssey into something totally new. Turn Odysseus into a girl. Change the setting to sci-fi and rock out a smart, psychedelic comic that visually and viscerally spins your brain. Those that follow along at home may remember that I blame Matt Fraction for pulling me back into comics and graphic novels.

There is something both epic and daunting and maybe terrifying about building on one of the most revered works in the canon of western literature. Joyce more than pulled it off, and took his Odyssey into the mind, and inside a single day in Dublin. The possibilities are endless.

My own odyssey is only partially literary at the moment. It's a personal wandering, a personal quest to figure out myself, life, the Universe, vocation, etc. It's what you do when you are 42.

Lately I have sequestered myself into my Baileys Neck crib. Gone ghost, fled to interior life, and close surroundings. I could feel a pull to change scenery. Pull together a quick and easy overnight, a voyage and return. Shenandoah National Park is a sub-three hour trek. Mary's Rock at Thornton Gap provided about a four-mile hike (up and back) full of snow, ice, slush and views you won't find on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

A proper odyssey can't be contained in a day or four miles. But for a flatlander surrounded by water, not mountains, it can be just enough to screw my soul on a bit differently. A spiritual wandering, returning with nothing but experience. And a smiling sanctuary in the mind.

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