Friday, March 25, 2011

"I see," said the saw. And he picked up his hammer from daycare.

I write a lot of stories where inanimate objects are animate and anthropomorphisized. The animation isn't the big deal either: I don't go out of my way to provide an origin story as to why the sliced of jellied toast suddenly wants to go boar hunting, or why his friend, the alcoholic belt sander with marital issues, wants to come with him. These things just are.

Confusing? I hope not. I don't find any of this nonsense any more confusing than human behavior already is. Before you ask why the jellied toast is in tears after he loses his gun and has to stab the charging boar to death with his other friend, Larry the neurotic bread knife, let me ask you why a human being might.

We are some seriously, frighteningly inconsistent critters. It's easy enough to find examples to suggest the depth and breadth of behavior we're capable of as a race. I'm not even talking the Gandhi/Hitler comparison. I'm talking about within individuals. I guarantee you that there are serial killers who truly love their families and men who beat their wives who actually do love them. Hell, speaking of Gandhi, how many out there are aware of the fact that he was pro-apartheid?

Maybe I want to put a little mental distance between myself and these creatures are capable of atrocity and tenderness in the same sentence? That's all I can think of. Yes, yes; I am one. Fine. But there sometimes seems like there's no inherent logic in human behavior. It feels easier to me to say that a belt sander shoots and skins a head of lettuce and wears the carcass as a vest. There is not society of belt sanders and, as such, I can determine what they're capable of and what they're going to do. Nobody can realistically call you out on something like that. We all have our own opinions on what human being will or will not do in a given situation (though I'd argue we never really know), but damned if we know what our power tools and breakfasts are thinking.

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