I was around the gaming table, as I usually am at least once a week, when my character found themselves in a world created by China Mieville. He’s always been one of those authors that are constantly recommended to me, but I never get around to reading.
The GM and one other at the table had read the particular story we’re entrenched in and one said,
“Great stories, but it never seems to make a difference.”
Meaning, regardless how hard the main protagonist struggles they make no impact on the world around them. Playing a brash, deeply flawed character that constantly butts head with the status quo, I protested on their behalf.
“That’s what Tobias does. In his little and ill advised way he rails against the world. Fighting the drowning of the individual in the sea of humanity. The fitting into boxes, the plotting out of futures, and the inevitable consumption of the individual, their powers and efforts.”
It was with that frame of mind that I said down to The City The City. Here seemed proof of what my friend had said. Our hero, Tyador Borlu, finds himself at odd with the system and the system consumed him, making him one of their own and the whole cycle continues without a burp. In this story our hero was no better off, he knew what had taken his wife all along. He had not broken a broken system to start reforming it into something better. He had not inspired others to greater deeds of resistance, in fact, he became part of the establishment that keep the twisted peace of the two cities.
Now, I can only say all that above because the book is great and as I had been promised, the world building engrossing. Loved it so much I started another, Railsea.
Railsea’s protagonist does a little better. At the end, the truth is known to our hero and his friends. Some will go back to share that information, how successful they will be is another story as religious zealotry in the face of facts does not run on straight rails. There is potential for the world to be changed as more and more go out and see for themselves. Individuals, questioning the status quo and checking it out.
What’s more, our hero, who from the beginning has had no idea what he should do with his life, now has purpose. He says himself that in finding the end, they’ve actually found the beginning. Sham is a young man, it might me a stretch to say he is self actualised as in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but he’s found a course he is happy to pursue.
I found myself railing against the world today, and in the end I’m made to confront the question, am I happy with the course I’m pursuing? Is there something I would be better off doing? I may need to make the compromise and continue with the role I have that pays the bills so I can do the thing I love that doesn’t, more like Tyador than throw it all to the wind like Sham. Still that seems unsatisfying and I will be continuing my climb up my own Maslow’s mountain very shortly.
McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 21). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html