Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Watership Down

Okay, I'm not good at the whole spoiler alert, so if you don't want to know, for instance, that Fiver is actually communicating with extra-terrestrial rabbits to save the warren, just stop reading here.

But speaking of Fiver - I love Fiver. I loved him when I was a kid, I love him now. I love Fiver, because Fiver has a foot in both worlds, without trying to cross-pollinate them. I love how the person who comes closest to understanding him is the poet-rabbit in the glum human-warren, and that's the rabbit he screams at and goes ballistic when he here's - it's not about being understood, it's not about destiny, it's not even about being right - it's about doing what the world you're in needs most, about being a contributor. Fiver is there to point out, to me, the animal, natural way to be a poet/visionary/intellectual/whatever. The poet-rabbit is what most intellectuals are, self-absorbed, writing poems about how sad things are to him, about his little nugget of the tragedy of the world. And it's like Fiver says (paraphrased, I'm a horrible quoter) - just because something's true doesn't mean it's not monstrous. What the poet said is true - but it's irrelevant, unless the rabbits, like humans, start thinking that their individual moments in life are more important than the great communal tapestry of Life, itself. The average artist and visionary is the most selfish, destructive, counterproductive force in the universe, because he sacrifices the We for the I, taking the beauty of human artifice, and the 'secrets from the other world' and twisting them into a sort of self-portrait, tiresome, narcissistic, and demeaning to the very human spirit that it pretends to support. It is only through the sublimation of self to greater human (or rabbit) destiny, that you have the great, ruggedly individual heroes of Bigwig, Fiver, Hazel, and all the rest of the lot.

BTW - I was kidding about the extra-terrestrials. But there IS a story that includes Death personified as a rabbit. How can you NOT read a book that has Little Bunny Fufu Goes To Hell and Back, in it? Well, not with that title, mind you...

5 comments:

Amanda said...

And to think, 1) all these years and I never knew you'd read this, much less liked it so much, and 2) I always thought this was an old time naval war book.

Byron said...

I loved the book Bunnicula, a mystery about a vampire-rabbit that sucks the life juices out of vegetables at night.

Then there's the rabbit guarding a cave in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail.

Maybe people find a perverse sense of joy in making rabbits out to be a bit less cuddly and innocent?

Jen said...

Bunnicula! I had totally forgotten about that one. That one is a classic. That and the whole series of parody fantasy books you had. Who was the author of those? I would totally read them again.

Amanda said...

Parody fantasy - did they involve rabbits? I dont' think I ever heard about those ones growing up.

Jen said...

No rabbits, but they were hilarious. I read them when I was much younger, so they may be kind of kids/young adult books, but I still think I would enjoy reading them again.