Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Beauty of Damaged

In the shower, where I get most of my important thinking done (memo - must get Shower Notes) I started to muse about how beautiful damaged people can be. 

Damage itself is very ugly, and of course I wouldn't wish trauma or sadness on anyone. What some people go through, either as kids or adults, can be terrifying even to contemplate.

However, the pain can be a type of bridge, almost a gift, to lead a personality from a basic, settled view of life to a new set of visions - perhaps that life is incredibly precious. Perhaps the damaged people get, more than anyone, the realization that nothing is more important than the people you love, and from the depths of agony, courage and strength can arise. 

In fiction and in film, I've always been "caught" by certain characters, by what their hideous pasts have done to them. Sometimes the pain makes them badass, sometimes they are in therapy or worse, or trapped in a long spiral down.

Yes, the spiral is fascinating, and I don't say this as a sadist. I repeat - I would never wish trauma on anyone. But to see a character spin out of control - it's a lovely dance...


That's the key. An endless descent becomes a VH1 "Behind the Music" special - you know what's going to happen - wealth, fame, and the onslaught of drink, drugs, insanity.

But if there is the possibility of escaping the spiral - an incredibly difficult act to accomplish, and one I do not take lightly - at that moment, I'm hooked. I love when Butch and Marcellus create their own 'honor among thieves' code of conduct. Ditto the friendship which elevates Andy Dufreyne and 'Red' Redding.

The downward / redemption concept captured me in Wool, in the Sherlock Holmes BBC series, in The Fault in Our Stars. 
Hazel Grace by spockward on deviant art

In the last one, Hazel Grace and Augustus are damaged by a dreadful thing beyond their control - the evil villain known collectively as Cancer. Bring two damaged people together and watch them find beauty and redemption - yeah, I read that book twice. And I'll read it again.

It's what sucked me into Darkness Rising, books 1,2,3 and now 4. It hooked me in The Lord of the Rings - the horrifying darkness surrounding Gollum and how (SPOILER ALERT, AND FOR GOD'S SAKE READ THE BOOKS) he is the key at the end to deliverance.
Son, that downward spiral has just begun.

I don't mean to belittle those who have had perfect lives, happy childhoods, plentiful friends, fantastic careers. If this describes you, receive my congratulations and a hearty handclasp! 

But, as I say, in fiction and in film and also in real life, those damaged people can be very beautiful. Their eyes are hooded with secret knowledge. Complex passageways are carved through their thoughts. They are careful with their own words, so they do not betray themselves.

They are human: scarred, tattooed, wounded.

They are beautiful.


Jason McIntyre said...

Yup! No doubt -- damaged characters are the most compelling in all types of storytelling.

Alison DeLuca said...

Yes - it's so difficult to create, and so compelling when it is done right.

Ross M Kitson said...

I think we all have fascinations with anti)heroes, especially those that achieve redemption. As characters their unpredictability makes them so very readable.

Unknown said...

Oh goodness yes! I just finished watching Defiance and the most interesting character is damaged... NICE article, my friend!

Unknown said...

Delicious post Alison. What an interesting observation. You are spot on, of course.
Nothing like a little pay-back...I mean, redemption.
~Just Jill