Friday, 8 February 2008

Journal #3 Dancing with the Devil: An Affront to Samuel Johnson

The Lives of Amphibians and Chimæras:
Journal #3
Dancing with the Devil: An Affront to Samuel Johnson
I have been toying for some time with an idea for a short fiction prose piece. It concerns my distrust of the high school/university conception of 'dancing,' my dislike for the promiscuity of my generation, and my hatred of/addiction to Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback." It would be entitled 'Dancing with the Devil.'
The premise of the story is as follows: A university student, female, attends a house party in which there is a fair bit of drinking and a fair bit of dancing. Teh dancing is in a modern sense, lacking choreography but full of sexuality. During the course of the evening, the young woman meets a young man who is very physcially attractive, very well dressed, very courteous, and a very, very good dancer. They dance for the course of the evening, and by the end of the piece the reader comes to understand (if I do the job right) that her new dance partner is the Devil himself come to seduce her of her soul.
Clearly this follows a sort of Christian morality which I would develop and complicate throughout the piece. In truth, a summary of it does not do justice to what I envision: characters would at times be characterized diabolically and at times angelically, largely because the morality of such a situation is complex, balancing natural attraction and disrespect, harmless pleasure and true indulgence. The overall effect will hopefully be a mixture of fear, temptation, and disgust, in equal parts.
This would clearly be an affront to Samuel Johnson, who says that vice must always be represented as being completely unnattractive, which insults the intelligence of the reader and could lead the reader astray. After all, it's easy to then determine from fiction that things that seem attractive must be morally correct--after all, those things that are sinful are revolting.
In my opinion, sin should be represented in fiction for what it is: oft times seducing, oft times easy, oft times confusingly mixed with virtue. For that matter, virtue should be represented in fiction for what it is: oft times boring, oft time difficult or painful, oft times confusingly mixed with sin. And the moral of any narrative should, despite all of this, be that one should always follow virtue rather than vice. This will of course be a difficult task, since there is no guarantee that you will be rewarded for good behaviour in this lifetime (and, if you're not of the afterlife school of though, no guarantee of reward in the next). I actually am not sure how such a feat would be completed, but moving to that end seems more rewarding pedagogically than Johnson's medicine.
As an aside on promiscuity, C. S. Lewis has interesting thoughts on the matter in his 'Sexual Morality' chapter of Mere Christianity which are relevant, I think, to non-Christian religious and some secular views as well.

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