What I love about reading is finding the parallels between the literature and reality. Obviously non-fiction draws these parallels quite clearly usually, or asks you in some way to look for them. Some fiction has very apparent connections to real world events or topics, but often times there’s a correlation that isn’t obvious or wasn’t even intended by the author.
I recently read “I Am Legend” which of course is quite firmly fiction. It was a good quick read, but still had a nice pace, good development of its main character, and an interesting message at the end. Not surprisingly the book and the movie are two very different stories. Spoilers ahead.
Written by Richard Matheson, and published in 1954, it has aged surprisingly well. Wisely Matheson avoids nearly any references to pop culture of the time, giving the writing a timeless quality. I’ll admit for the first chapter I pictured the main character as Will Smith despite him being described as white. It’s a spin on vampire tales combining post apocalyptic and zombie elements (before they were cool).
The majority of the story depicts Robert Neville entirely on his own faced with the daily grind of an isolated life. He spends his days keeping up his solitary existence and slaughtering sleeping vampires, of which there are many. He spends his nights tortured by their awakened presence outside of his fortified house.
Now without spoiling too much, he comes to find that he is one of the last humans alive with a population of the vampires recreating society. He learns as well they fear him as they would a terrible monster for his daily slayings. He realized that what was once normal and sane and proper is now feared, is now legend.
Thinking on this further I couldn’t help but compare the theme of the book to what is often talked about around the ‘sphere: the fall of masculinity. Observing that fall is nothing new, we can see it daily. Its probably talked about daily too. But how far is it going to go?
Many think it will be a self correcting problem. That the decline will lead to a collapse that from the ashes masculinity will rise again and restore the patriarchal course of society as we know it. It’s talked about romantically almost, but the path to that point may be more worth discussing. Things have a slow way dying. Decay is a better word, tends to take longer. Especially when nearly anyone you talk to randomly out in the world is going to show quite quickly how plugged into the matrix they are. How much they love it. Maybe even how they would die for it.
How far will this Stockholm Syndrome go? Masculinity is already often seen as the antithesis to all this good and proper in the world. How long until we’re the monsters to be feared?