Thursday, March 4, 2010

Margaret Atwood
(b. 1939)

Happy Endings

I’m a little hesitant to draw illustrations from ‘The Matrix,’ but no matter how tired something may be, if it’s accurate, then it’s accurate. As Morpheus’ explains the history of the Matrix to Neo, Morpheus states that the programming they currently see in the Matrix is not the original one. The first program was idyllic in its design, but the inhabitants rejected that construct. I don’t know whether this is to reflect the fall of man in Eden or just to say that sometimes the American dream can feel false, inauthentic. Atwood definitely picks up on this point in ‘Happy Endings.’

But is joy truly a dream? Are movies like “Pleasantville” and authors like Anne Sexton right to dismiss notions of community and family happiness? Well, pain is a part of natural life, and a smile all the time can seem saccharine. But there is a joy and there are things that we can hope for that are good. Let me do one more reference. On ‘Family Matters,’ the Winslows, you know Carl and Harriet, they had some hard times, but they also could get steamy. Carl saw a man shot in front of him; Harriet had her Dad come back into her life—ain’t paid a lick of attention to her for thirty years—but came back. Life isn’t about always having good times, it’s about what gets you through the rocky times. And there is joy in marriage and that marriage points us to that we don’t have to be afraid to trust.

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