Monday, August 07, 2006

Literary Metaphor and Killer B-Movie Plot

Fences. Fences are horrible. Terrible. Very Bad. No Good.


Whenever people start talking "fence," things go wrong. Maginot line, basically a really big, well built, fortified fence. Nothing good came of it. Israel's "security fence." I'm not totally up to date on how that's doing, but it has mad a lot of people mad, and Israel's still not exactly what one generally calls "secure." Except in the Orwellian sense. The fence on the America-Mexico border. That proposal's still lurking around on the Hill -- it'll never really die -- but it hasn't done it's proposers and proponents prospects a whole world of good. The Berlin Wall. No caption necessary. Oh, and then there's China's fence, the Great Wall. That worked out all right, at least in the large scale, but how many people died building it?

What I'm really talking about, though, are not these kinds of big, geopolitical scale fences. What I'm really talking about are little fences. Suburban scale fences. Backyard fences.

As an example of what I'm talking about: I've lived in my present abode for nigh on five years now. I know the name of one of my neighbors, because he has a dog who's friends with my dog. One. Name. And that's out of all the neighbors I have: next door, across the street, down the street, up the street, the other side of the backyard fence. All of them. Some of them I see every day, but I don't know their names.

Of course, this probably says more about me than anything else. But fences are a handy metaphor. There's a feeling of isolation, here in the depths of suburbia. Even though there are people all around me, I don't know any of them. We all have our individual houses, our individuals yards, and individual families. Serving sized.

It's there on a larger scale, too. Just look at all the effort countries put into fences, borders, boundaries. I listed some of the bigger ones earlier, but plenty of countries have some kind of physical boundary at their border, even it's just a chain link fence for a couple of miles.

We don't need that. There's enough division, enough isolation, inherent in the human condition without cutting ourselves apart with even more artificial distinctions.

Besides, what if they really are evil? In the very literal, ambulatory sense? It's possible. I can see it now: quaint little countryside, marred by monstrous marauding lines of picket and steel, with great horrible fangs, chewing up everything in their path. So quick, before it's too late! Get rid of your fences! Tear down those walls! Before they destroy us all!

1 comment:

  1. Fences suck, I totally agree.

    The only function of fences is to impeed freedom. Why do we need that? I mean, obviously they impeed the freedom of dogs, and bears, and obnoxious neighbors, which is probably why they were put up, but they still make it hard to roam around suburbia.

    Once you think about it like that, a lot of things are metaphorical fences. Like oceans, or outer space. Outer space is like a fence between us and the moon. And the sun. In a very abstract sense.