Thursday, February 04, 2010

True Blood. Vampires, Werewolves, Telepaths, Shapechangers...and what else?

We're just working ourselves through the first two seasons of the HBO series True Blood, which is basically about an near-future world, where vampires are able to come out of the coffin, as it were; said event made possible through the invention of a blood substitute, 'True Blood', that basically obviates the need for them to feed on humans. The series is another instance of the current coming-back-in-vogue of the whole 'vampire' thing.

There's a lot of sex and violence, with occasionally graphic depictions of gore and body parts flying here and there. Where there are vampires, werewolves aren't far off. There are also people with unexpected talents here, such as telepaths and shapechangers, plus a host of half-people-half-creature things, like a sorceress who is a cross between the Odyssey's 'Circe'...

...and some bad-ass were-monster, which likes to rip people's hearts out.

True Blood is good, unclean fun, if you like that kind of thing. It's set in a fictional small town in Louisiana and makes excellent use of the ambience of that region. The characters are sharply drawn, and in particular Anna Paquin, not hyperventilating anymore like she did when she got an Oscar for her role in The Piano. Her affair with the vampire Bill Compton, whose manners, way of thinking and social etiquette date back to over a century back, is the pivot around which much of the story and its other characters revolve. Definitely worth seeing, though I understand why this really wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea.

One thing that occurred to me—and it's something the series, with its many 'talented' humans popping up all over the place—is that it kind of clarifies why those denying the existence of anything that isn't 'scientifically provable', though few actually have a decent notion of what that actually means, are so rabid and...well, 'fanatical'...about their assertions.

It is this: if only one, just one—and it could just be a tiny 'one'—of those things beyond the reach of the scientifically-accepted fabric of reality were actually shown to exist, that would open the floodgates for just about everything else as well. If vampires, those 'undead' creatures who can walk and talk and suck the blood out of unwary humans, exist, then werewolves probably do, too. If just one shard, one fragment, can be found, made of a material unknown to our technology and demonstrably from some kind of 'craft' or machine, then the whole UFO thing follows immediately behind. Find a single telepath who can communicate across vast distances—say, from Australia to the UK—at will and with precision, and you'll open the doors for telekinesis, clairvoyance and even talking to the dead; which would, of course, overturn the current paradigms of the likes of Richard Dawkins for good and forever. If just one object or person suddenly disappears in mid air, and it can be demonstrated that this wasn't a hoax, we've got the whole 'other universes' thing staring us in the face and waving hello. We find a single person of reasonably youthful appearance and in good health who can demonstrate that s/he is, say 400 years old, and that's the end of the you've-got-to-get-old-and-die paradigm, which holds us all in thrall. And so on.

This is the problem with, and the promise of, such matters entering our lives beyond the point of reasonable doubt. It is a problem for those who don't want it to happen. It is a promise for those who believe, or at least strongly suspect, that things aren't what they appear, no matter how comforting the status quo is to those believing fervently in the method and body-of-knowledge of science.

While some will, no doubt, be certain that the current body of science will continue to reign supreme, I am watching this space with interest—mainly because... well, just because... and also because it would be be good, though possibly also scary, fun if there was more to 'reality' than we give credit for.

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