Sunday, March 09, 2008

Brooding, Tortured Cavemen

I've started a series about those dark, scowling types who are impossible, yet irresistible. But today, I want to talk about a subtype: the brooding, tortured caveman.

I don't mean the Geico guys, or their immediate yet far less entertaining relatives. I mean the guy who's not happy unless he's unhappily lying on his overused couch in his dank living room, alone, trying for the 2,748th time to figure out where his life went wrong. Will he talk to anyone about it? No. Does all that pondering actually help? No. But at least, while he's in mid-ponder, he doesn't have to do anything to actually change how things are.

A popular play about this very topic has been running for years around the country. There are many cavemen out there, and I'm neither minimizing their pain nor suggesting that we don't all have atavistic coping mechanisms. But caves are best suited to stalactites and the bones of small animals. If you're going to hang out in one, you might as well paint.

(Ron Perlman in Quest for Fire, which used the considerable talents of Anthony Burgess and Desmond Morris to create spoken and physical languages, respectively.)

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