How we see Father

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How we see Father

Post by 222333 »

*
Opening a new thread with the last post of "Mythology" as he subject shifted.

Pat said:
A lot of what I hear Father telling Vincent is that this relationship (and perhaps any other) will cause him unhappiness.

*
No dear Pat. Not a lot, and only in the beginning. He says so *twice*, once in the Pilot, and once in Song of Orpheus, plus the "Your relationship with my son is a tragic mistake" of No Way Down: all of them *before* the blessed closure with Margaret. After Song of Orpheus, after his own lover’s bitterness was somehow healed, his attitude changes, and you’ll find only him standing for both of them and praying. After that, he only says that their life together is impossible -- which is true, and which also Catherine says (China Moon, A Happy Life – and somehow also in Orphans, when she realizes she does not want to live Below, after all). I suppose that the correct way of approaching this perception of Father and Catherine (not of Vincent, by the way – we never hear him saying so, quite the contrary: Catherine: One thing I learned from Vincent—Nothing is impossible! =Ashes Ashes) would be to discuss what “together” means for them, not what “possible” means, as we do see that it IS possible to some degree.

Pat said:
There is an unspoken question here: why would you want to do something that will cause you unhappiness? Where is the logic in that? Of course, Father never says this. But why does Father say this? (me with my why questions!) All relationships have periods of unhappiness in them. In some respects, we probably need them to grow within the relationship. But to say that to someone would make me think that the sayer has had some particularly bad relationships causing the sayer to conclude that relationships are more unhappiness than happiness and would be better to be avoided. Or, in this particular case, there is something specific in this relationship to cause Vincent and Catherine unhappiness. So what would that be? (again, with the questions!) I agree that Vincent cannot join Catherine Above, and that Catherine would not be happy solely Below. Both of these characters know this. And still they seek to forge a path for their dream. So what is to cause the unhappiness from Father's perspective? I am really asking this question! :)

*
And I am unable to reply, if we’re speaking of the episodes and not of our personal take on the show and its characters: and I don’t see the attitude you’re describing in the episodes. Or better, we see precisely what you say, a growth. But a curious fandom perception forgets such growth, to remember only a few stereotyped and worn out phrases, out of context and out of the storyline. Father fears for Vincent, as a parent does, but as a parent, he wants his son’s happiness, and he *knows* that Catherine brings him happiness. What we see is that after such first initial diffidence, Father rejoiced and watched with hope to his son’s thorny path to happiness with Catherine. After SoO, this is what we hear Father saying:

Vincent: Our bond is stronger and deeper than either of us can begin to imagine.
Father: As if both your... destinies were inextricably linked.
Vincent: Yes.
Father: As if your hearts in their search for union could transcend time and space, circumvent the laws of physics and probability.

Father: I sometimes feel... I'm standing on the bank of a raging river, watching you try to swim across. How can I not worry? I'd be a fool. And yet Vincent, at the same time, I have to marvel at your courage.
Vincent: Catherine swims across that river as well. She faces the same dangers, shows the same courage. And in many ways the toll on her is even greater.
Father: You really think that's so?
Vincent: On her side of the river there is no one standing on the bank, watching. On her side of the river there is no one praying for her safe passage. On her side of the river, Father, there is no one but Catherine.
Father: Then I shall stand watch, and pray, for both of you.

Father: Then trust in that, Vincent... It's a remarkable thing, to feel the beat of a woman's heart, on a distant shore.

Father: How is Catherine.
Vincent: Alive. Safe.
Father: If only there was some way in which I could keep both of you safe... to shield you from harm... from pain.
Vincent: From life.
Father: Because I love you, Vincent, I love both of you.

Father: Catherine…Dear Catherine, you must know by now that you’re part of that miracle…You saw him…and all that he is…and you gave him…You gave him a dream. For that, I shall be forever grateful.

Father: You miss her.
Vincent: I miss feeling her near, knowing where to find her.
Father: How fortunate you are, Vincent, to know that feeling.

Father: I never dreamed I'd one day look on Catherine…with the fondness that I do.
Vincent: It's been a time filled with things we never dreamed of… It's been the most miraculous year of my life.
Father: You know, you two share something quite extraordinary…Something that touches the best in all of us.



Now, an interesting discussion would be trying to understand why generally the fans are blind to all this.

S
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

S!

You would post during Winterfest! I came here to try and find you most compelling post about Remember Love, and have not had any luck finding it. We were discussing that today and I couldn't remember well your specifics. Low and behold, I spot this new post of yours!

I need to get a fly trap memory, because I swear I heard Father reference that thought (the unhappiness thought) in a later episode. I will try to listen for that as I continue to rewatch episodes.

I do realize he came to change his views. I guess I should have better said 'a lot' in regard to in the beginning. But I was curious as to what he might have meant by that line, 'only cause you unhappiness.' What did Father perhaps see as the unhappiness that might be caused? Was it a reflection of his relationship with Margaret? Or was it an unrequited love thing (part of him is a man)?

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Re: How we see Father

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:I need to get a fly trap memory, because I swear I heard Father reference that thought (the unhappiness thought) in a later episode. I will try to listen for that as I continue to rewatch episodes.


You can try...but it isn't there. ;) Those two instances are all there is.

Happy Winterfest,

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Re: How we see Father

Post by 222333 »

*
Pat, yes, I'm around the tunnels doing the Italian translations for WFOL. The post about RL you are looking for, I think, is this
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=171&p=1555&hilit=psyche#p1555
(but be careful: I have been preaching about this ever since I joined the online fandom and people might roll their eyes at seeing it… again).

About Father, no, you won’t find any further reference because it does not exist, but in front of the avalanche of evidences that he is sure that Catherine brought happiness to Vincent, is the initial diffidence so important? For me it isn’t, except as a beautiful testament of a will to be open and change his mind in order to embrace the truth, once he recognizes it, without rigid and immature stiffness protecting one’s view no matter what. Which is one of the many inspiring traits of the series.

Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that he lost his diffidence, but it was now directed toward… destiny, not Catherine, whom he growth to see as an ally to bring happiness to Vincent if only it was possible.

As to the reason of the possible unhappiness he was initially fearing for Vincent, yes, I suppose it was his own tragic personal experience with women coloring his perception. Margaret, but also Grace – terrible as well and perhaps even more. I think he basically sublimated all the push to have a woman and a family (=Devin un-acknowledged as his own son) into building a wider Family – the one successful accomplishment of his life. “A family of individuals living according to a higher standard” in Paracelsus’ words. There is a danger in pursuing higher standards, if they are not tempered with compassion.

Margaret miraculously coming back and giving closure to a part of his unhealed pain (“How is Father? -- Healing, alone, grateful”), and then Devin coming back too, made his generous heart reconsider a lot about his life and his perception of himself and Vincent. The trajectory of Father is a beautiful one, in the series.

S
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

Oh I figured you are around during Winterfest! Found the RL by the way. Claire beat you to it! I think a group who were discussing it yesterday are going to try and watch it today to continue the discussion, so I wanted to refresh my memory, which Lord knows, I need!

Yes, Father has a tremendous growth arc during the series. I agree that he sees the community as the family he never quite got to have for himself. But the Devin thing bothers me. Is it in Father's character to have denied acknowledgement for so long? I understand his not wanting to show favoritism or be charged with that, but that seems a rather weak argument to me. It certainly made for a dramatic episode. But I still think his character (the inside, not the TV role) would not do that, at least for as long as it turned out to be in the episode.

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Re: How we see Father

Post by 222333 »

Pat said:
the Devin thing bothers me. Is it in Father's character to have denied acknowledgement for so long? I understand his not wanting to show favoritism or be charged with that, but that seems a rather weak argument to me. It certainly made for a dramatic episode. But I still think his character (the inside, not the TV role) would not do that, at least for as long as it turned out to be in the episode.

*
My first reply would be something of which I don't know, honestly, if I'm guilty too. That is - we should look at the episodes as they are, not as we would like them to be. At least as a starting point - then comes interpretation, in a variety of nuances, but we can't say "he said this, yes, but he meant that" ... "the writers were drunk, I/we know better", or there is no common ground for a discussion in such B&B "à la carte" - bringing forth the discussion-killing "agree to disagree". Me, I stop my B&B experience with AKBTS, but I try to take everything before as it is, and I reject what comes after precisely because I am unable to do it.
That said, I think that yes, Father, in a way, "married" the dream of building the tunnel society. Hence, he slowly came to reject the idea of having a family/son of his own. Vincent was different, precisely because he was different. He could be a father to a special son, who could easily symbolize all the rejected ones for whom the tunnels were home. Sort of sublimation as well - which Paracelsus' sarcasm caught, as he knew him well.
Also for Father, like for Vincent, the powerful risk exists of trying to "normalize" him. He is not your normal father - he is the Father. We can better understand him - or, at least, I do - on a mythical plane. One he tried to refer to, perhaps not fully aware of doing it, and he *often* failed. And often succeeded. Such failures do not change the approach - dreaming a dream may be worthy disregarding how good I am at implementing it (and Father is mostly good at it).

S
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

I guess I count scriptwriting as part of the context of each episode. Recognizing that I believe our show was inspired by something greater than one man's imagination, and that I am far from a religious scholar (Zara's territory), I offer as an analogy that scriptwriters are somewhat like the author's of the books of the Bible. I do not believe in a literal word Bible, but again, an inspiration brought forth to and through the human frailties of each author. So, too, with scriptwriters. I would hate to miss a greater meaning by overlooking poor writing, or misguided writing of a character, or a plot. So I do look at scriptwriting.

S said: I think that yes, Father, in a way, "married" the dream of building the tunnel society. Hence, he slowly came to reject the idea of having a family/son of his own. Vincent was different, precisely because he was different. He could be a father to a special son, who could easily symbolize all the rejected ones for whom the tunnels were home.


I understand this point and agree. Yet ...Father put great store in truth:

SOG: Father: Our world must continue, a lot of good and trusting people depend on this place … it’s all they have.
and a moment later:
Vincent: Mine is not the only voice.
Father: It’s the truest, and the strongest, promise me you’ll keep …

Truth is necessary for trust. Trust is a huge part of the community, for keeping them together and united. One can lie by telling a falsehood (commission) or by failing to tell or do (omission) and Father's is the second. Indeed, as years go by, it turns into deception. This is so not in keeping with his need for truth that it is out of character for me.

S said: He is not your normal father - he is the Father. We can better understand him - or, at least, I do - on a mythical plane. One he tried to refer to, perhaps not fully aware of doing it, and he *often* failed. And often succeeded. Such failures do not change the approach - dreaming a dream may be worthy disregarding how good I am at implementing it (and Father is mostly good at it).


I can acknowledge this in the sense that often leaders succumb to the 'do as I say, not as I do' frailty. But trust is so key to me,and as I see it, to this community and too many examples abound in our country, at least, when leaders break trust and the damage is severe. Father is far from perfect, and I don't expect him to be, but I find this omission of his not quite in line with his character as I see it.

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Re: How we see Father

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:Truth is necessary for trust. Trust is a huge part of the community, for keeping them together and united. One can lie by telling a falsehood (commission) or by failing to tell or do (omission) and Father's is the second. Indeed, as years go by, it turns into deception. This is so not in keeping with his need for truth that it is out of character for me.

...

I can acknowledge this in the sense that often leaders succumb to the 'do as I say, not as I do' frailty. But trust is so key to me,and as I see it, to this community and too many examples abound in our country, at least, when leaders break trust and the damage is severe. Father is far from perfect, and I don't expect him to be, but I find this omission of his not quite in line with his character as I see it.


Feeling somewhat ambitious today, I'm going to take a stab at this issue. Dipping into philosophy for a moment.

Something important to know about truth is that it is not an objective condition. Facts, for example, are not truths. Facts are concrete and distilled summaries which describe as objectively as possible some pieces of a whole truth. Truth is an interconnected reality within which we exist. We experience truth subjectively. Truth is not a neutral commodity. It is an active force. As such, it is powerful. People through the ages have both applied and concealed both facts and truths to do great good, and also to do great harm. I hold with a premise of Canon that Father appeals to truth publicly, privately, and even secretly to accomplish good.

This is something that every dedicated parent does out of love for their children. Over time, parents and children reveal truths to each other. Sometimes revelations are shared as they become discovered and known, and sometimes as the people involved become ready to deal with the burdens, implications, and responsibilities that knowing a truth entails. There are times in a person's life when they are not ready to share with someone else all that they know about a situation. There are times when the intended recipient of their truth is not ready to receive, accept, or understand whatever the truth-teller may wish to impart to that recipient.

I'm going to let Father speak for himself here:

From "Song of Orpheus:"

FATHER: I've always wondered when it would happen...and now it has.

...

FATHER: Vincent, I've...I've never lied to you. The things I've told to you about the world above, so much was to protect you. And it was also to help me to forget...forget a world I once loved.

VINCENT: I've always sensed that.

FATHER: I have kept certain things from you...about my life...before.

...

FATHER: I'll be back this evening. When I return, we'll talk.

**********

From "Promises of Someday:"

FATHER: (He begins to cry) She [Grace] died giving birth to him [Devin], and afterwards...I, um...I didn’t want to set him apart from the others. Besides I...I always intended to tell him, later. I had you to consider as well.

...

DEVIN: What is this supposed to accomplish?

FATHER: Perhaps nothing. Perhaps it will make you hate me even more. But whatever happens, I think you deserve to know the truth, Devin...my son.


There are many truths that adults choose not to burden children with. These lines I quoted as illustrations reveal some of Father's choices, and some of Father's reasons for making the choices he did. I think it's natural that Father follows a common pattern of human nature: to wait until he can speak to his sons on equal terms, man to man, adult to adult, before bestowing upon them some of the most complicated and painful truths he's ever encountered in his entire life. Father does this with both Vincent and Devin after they have matured out of childhood and adolescence, after they are out of their twenties and have had time to figure out how to be adults in a difficult world...and he also does this as the circumstances that arise in his family's history and in the Season One episodes unfold. As far as I can tell, a universal aspect of growing up is the process of discovering truths about our forebearers' lives that surprise us, and shape us, and so change the course of our ongoing development. The story of how that happens is very important, and beautifully told in our B&B.

Father's words and actions show me that far from concealing the truth, he is trying to handle it mercifully and responsibly, for himself and for everyone else involved. And the moment an opportunity arrives to share what he knows (including the moment Father becomes aware that the time has come when he can and should trust his children/the appropriate recipient with his truths), he does so. With full honesty and compassion.

As to what Father as a leader does and does not share with the community Below, I don't have enough information to judge his actions as a trust-breaking lie, or a series of lies, by omission. I can deduce from the fact that after "Song of Orpheus," certain "old timers" in the community begin to use Father's name openly, and I can deduce from the fact that Vincent did not know Father's name (until Catherine discovered it in the 1950s newspaper archives) that said community elders kept this (and A LOT of other) information private among themselves. Some people clearly know more about Father and the history of the underworld than they have chosen to pass on to the next generation, at least at the point where we viewers are introduced to the stories of the show. Consider that Winslow and Pascal and Narcissa knew a great deal about Paracelsus from personal past experience ("To Reign in Hell") while Vincent knew nothing about this great enemy of the community until Father (not Winslow, not Pascal, not Narcissa, or anyone else) started informing him in "The Alchemist." We, the audience, do not know who in the story knows what until a character speaks and tells us. In this we are allied with Vincent and Catherine in the storytelling; we know what they know as they learn it.

Trust is indeed a vital element of Tunnels culture. And trusting people includes the art of keeping confidences safe. Leaders must also deal with communal confidences, in addition to matters pertaining to individual confidentiality. For healers/doctors/peacemakers like Father, cautious discretion is even more imperative.

I have no problem with Father's secrecy in terms of the storytelling. It seems quite in line with his character to me.

~ Zara
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

As usual, I learn something interesting from Zara's post.

The one thought I had when reading, in response to this:

And the moment an opportunity arrives to share what he knows (including the moment Father becomes aware that the time has come when he can and should trust his children/the appropriate recipient with his truths), he does so.


was this moment volitional or situational, brought about by Vincent's questioning after Devin leaves? Vincent has clearly pondered Father's behavior toward Devin before, to raise the issue with him at that time. So if Vincent had not commented, would he not mention it? Both men were in their 30's. Certainly both capable of hearing this truth.

I can agree, in basics, with what you have presented. But I still think the stated reason is lame: favoritism. The fact that others do not know does not mean he might not act differently toward his son because he knows. And, in fact, he did as Vincent pointed out. He went overboard in the other direction causing emotional hurt and confusion for Devin and likely confusion in the other children if Vincent was able to notice it. So what did his silence accomplish? And could not Father show favoritism toward Vincent? In many respects, I bet he did. So he gets to show favoritism to Vincent because Vincent is special? Doesn't that further separate a child who is different from his peers? And that comment, 'and then there was you to consider.' bothers me because it rather directly says to Vincent in that conversation, 'I put you before my own son." Is that fair to him? That's tantamount to emotional blackmail in a way for Vincent, look at the sacrifice I made for you.

But I thank you for the good points to ponder! Will continue to think about this.

Pat
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Re: How we see Father

Post by 222333 »

*
Hmm… last two posts are not considered in this one – I had not yet seen them while writing it.

Pat said:
So I do look at scriptwriting.

As I wrote, probably I also do it. If we do it, though, we must be aware of the risk of giving the show our own interpretation. EG – we are talking about Father. He’s not one of my favorite characters… because I have issues with Parents and Parenting. So, I *prefer* - and I’m fully aware of it – to see the many scenes showing V choosing to be “free” (“Don’t tell her anything!” – yeah, right… “We’re below the city streets…”). Someone else may love to see instead the wonderful fatherly figure of the patriarch. And they both exist – the risk is to interpret the whole through the lenses of what I prefer, and not only disregard the rest, but deny it.

Pat said:
Father is far from perfect, and I don't expect him to be, but I find this omission of his not quite in line with his character as I see it.

That’s it… “as you see it” – perhaps not as he is. I don’t know. The easy way might be acknowledge that, as you said, Devin made for a heck of a dramatic episode, scriptwriting wise. Or that the character was unevenly developed playing by ear while episodes were being written. The difficult way is admitting that *this* is Father. If we try to take the facial value, we must acknowledge that in Father we see a pattern – Margaret, Paracelsus, Grace/Devin – of talking about some painful parts of his and tunnel’s life only if the circumstances bring them forth. But we also must acknowledge what he built = the extraordinary tunnel community; that he raised people, and Vincent, as free, generous spirits (a low-self-esteem Vincent repressed by Father hammering fear into him is another fandom legend. Vincent is free and we continually see evidences of it. I’m ready to duel with whoever wants to say the opposite, burying them under avalanches of scenes and dialogue lines); and, finally and especially, that he is ready to acknowledge his faults and ask forgiveness and try to amend, along the beautiful arc of his growth in the episodes. As the least humble person in the world, I admire those who are capable of humility, and Father is: a remarkable quality, especially in a leader. So, endeavouring to look at the whole picture, all this makes for a beautiful character, probably *because* he’s not perfect. And for me this is a further bonus. In fact I have seen that when the leaders are perfect, often the communities are unable to stand on their two feet and collapse miserably if the leaders disappear or somehow fail to keep them standing. A remarkable, caring and humble leader makes for the very special community of the tunnels. Yes, yes, I understand that trust is such an important part of the whole picture, I’m not trying to avoid addressing your point, Pat. I just wonder if this powerful and humble figure might have been considered trustworthy anyway for these fundamental and very human qualities, along the lines of seeing Love, the truth beyond knowledge, as the first motivation of his actions, and, pragmatically, also of acknowledging the evident overall success of such actions and choices along the years.

S
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:...was this moment volitional or situational, brought about by Vincent's questioning after Devin leaves?


Both-and, methinks. It was a conversation about an immediately relevant topic. Conversations provide both means and opportunities for sharing that do not necessarily occur in other contexts.

Pat wrote:But I still think the stated reason is lame: favoritism.


Ah, you are assuming "I didn't want to set him apart from the others," indicates an issue of favoritism. Father states what he did not want to do; he does not say why he did not want to, or what "set him apart" might have entailed, nor does he elaborate upon the circumstances he and "the others" (whoever that phrase might refer to, children probably, but there is also a whole community involved too) were facing at the time. By all means, fill in that blank however you wish. But it's not the only conclusion one could reach. I'd prefer a conclusion that fits with the rest of what we know about Father from the Canon, rather than a conclusion that seems to jar with it.

Pat wrote:So what did his silence accomplish?


Without more information from the storytellers (which, alas, we did not get to enjoy), we can only speculate. We see some of the negative outcomes. We don't know for sure how Father's past silences worked to balance or unbalance his family and his larger community Below.

Pat wrote:And could not Father show favoritism toward Vincent? In many respects, I bet he did.


I refer you to the dialogue from "Promises of Someday:"

FATHER: Look, Vincent, please, I swear to you...I’ve always tried to be fair.

VINCENT: No one knows better than I how hard you tried, and how well you succeeded. You were a father not only to me, but to...to anyone who needed one.

[Yes, I know the lines that follow go back to the topic of Devin, but I'm focusing on your question about Vincent...]


Vincent is satisfied with the quality and the equality of his own upbringing. If Vincent can accurately critique Father for his treatment of Devin, surely Vincent can also evaluate the successes Father achieved in being fair to Vincent and all the other children. Father's failure with Devin is notable because it was an exception within a broad network of relationships with generations of children Below. It shows he is human, fallible, and that he too needed to find healing. Father's failures make him approachable and in a way, even admirable. Because he does not let his failures have the last word. He always seeks to make amends. To change himself. To grow and become more loving and mature.

Pat wrote:And that comment, 'and then there was you to consider.' bothers me because it rather directly says to Vincent in that conversation, 'I put you before my own son." Is that fair to him? That's tantamount to emotional blackmail in a way for Vincent, look at the sacrifice I made for you.


I think you have added lines of your own to the dialogue there, to form the interpretation you describe. I get no sense of blackmail from Father's statements in that scene. Far from it, he is at his most honest and his most vulnerable, explaining the thoughts and feelings of the freshly traumatized younger man he used to be...looking back on that painful time through hindsight.

Pat wrote:So he gets to show favoritism to Vincent because Vincent is special? Doesn't that further separate a child who is different from his peers?


No. Let me repeat that: no. It does not further separate such a child. I wouldn't call Father's approach toward Vincent favoritism. Making special efforts to meet a unique child's special needs is a VITAL, ESSENTIAL, IRREPLACEABLE act of inclusion. Vincent calls the wonderfully inclusive world Father built for him a "delicate miracle" (in "The Outsiders") and "my salvation" and also states, "I could not exist elsewhere" (in "Labyrinths"). I cannot imagine stronger or clearer language from Vincent on this point. Far from separating Vincent, Father's treatment of him gave Vincent and everyone else the foundation they needed to think of Vincent as a Person, with all the attendant rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereto. Nothing isolates a child who is different from his peers more quickly and cruelly than actions which minimize or trivialize those innate differences for the sake of a homogenizing form of so-called "equality." Ignoring or neglecting differences in our abilities and vulnerabilities is not fairness. Honoring and celebrating both our differences and our similarities is.

Got me fired up today, huh? :)

Blessings,

Zara
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Zara »

Late-night reading that resonated in tune with today's discussion:

We are able to answer the question, "Why have we no great men?" We have no great men chiefly because we are always looking for them. We are connoisseurs of greatness, and connoisseurs can never be great; we are fastidious--that is, we are small. When Diogenes went about with a lantern looking for an honest man, I am afraid he had very little time to be honest himself. And when anybody goes about on his hands and knees looking for a great man to worship, he is making sure that one man at any rate shall not be great. Now the error of Diogenes is evident. The error of Diogenes lay in the fact that he omitted to notice that every man is both an honest man and a dishonest man. Diogenes looked for his honest man inside every crypt and cavern, but he never thought of looking inside the thief. And that is where the Founder of Christianity found the honest man; He found him on a gibbet and promised him Paradise. Just as Christianity looked for the honest man inside the thief, democracy looked for the wise man inside the fool. It encouraged the fool to be wise. We can call this thing sometimes optimism, sometimes equality; the nearest name for it is encouragement. It had its exaggerations--failure to understand original sin, notions that education would make all men good, the childlike yet pedantic philosophies of human perfectibility. But the whole was full of faith in the infinity of human souls, which is in itself not only Christian but orthodox; and this we have lost amid the limitations of pessimistic science. Christianity [Z: and, indeed, other religions in the world, such as Buddhism] said that any man could be a saint if he chose; democracy, that every man could be a citizen if he chose. The note of the last few decades in art and ethics has been that a man is stamped with an irrevocable psychology and is cramped for perpetuity in the prison of his skull.

~ G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens


I think Father has always aimed...with Devin, and with Vincent, and with the entire world Father created Below...for this kind of faithful acceptance of human nature and for an encouragement toward the greatness of becoming fully human. Cast Father in a villainous (or at the very least an oppositional) light, and we quickly lose sight of the true value of the Tunnels, the true nature of every other character in the story, and even many of the truths we can take away from the story to enrich our own real-world lives. This is why I am so vehement about preserving the complete, complex dignity of the Jacob Wells character in our interpretive efforts.

From "Labyrinths:"

FATHER: When I left the world Above, I was disillusioned...heartbroken. I'd lost my faith. Here it was I learned to listen to my heart, to face my old enemies and heal my wounds. Here I learned to believe again. Hopes and dreams created this fragile world. Pride and vigilance maintain it, and it survives only because it is separate and apart. It is a refuge where the disillusioned regain their vision, the lost become found, where each one of us can explore the best of our being, the best of what it means to be...human. And to be alive.


For all that child-Devin had been shut out of Father's process of healing and becoming rehumanized, a part of adult-Devin also knew that the Tunnels were the place he needed to return to in order to find his own source of healing in his own life. In that way, he did learn deeply from Father's example: face the past and heal the wounds. I am so grateful that "Brothers" could show us more of the reconciliation that occurred between Father, Devin, and Vincent as they continued to increase their trust in one another and slowly shed whatever veils of secrecy separated them.

Pondering, as ever,

Zara
Maclurv
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

S said: “as you see it” – perhaps not as he is


For matters of clarity, 'as I see it' comes from watching, reading transcripts, and bringing to bear all that influences my perspectives in life as I take in this raw input. I don't see how it can be done any other way. I try not to look at this 'as I wish it would be.' It would be very different if I did! :) But I daresay we all use a similar process.

when the leaders are perfect, often the communities are unable to stand on their two feet and collapse miserably if the leaders disappear or somehow fail to keep them standing.


An interesting comment. This is a fear I have for this community. He seems so adamant about Vincent succeeding him, that makes me question if he doesn't fear for the community if Vincent doesn't take over. You speak of Vincent being free, and I agree, yet I see a potential 'deathbed' request putting undue pressure on a person. At this time, would you really say no? And being honorable and knowing what the community has meant to him, Vincent would do it even if his preference was not. And in The Outsiders, many disagreed with how to handle things, yet kept deferring to Father. He clearly carried great weight as a leader; what is not clear is how the council system they set up was to work. In that instance, it seemed only to advise with Father the decider. That leads to another aspect I've considered: was Vincent seen as the next appointed leader by the community, the heir apparent? Vincent usually seemed to stand or sit in close proximity to Father during meetings (haven't done a count or anything, my memory goes this way) as in 'the right hand of the father' if you will. There is nothing that comes to mind that told or showed us Vincent's feelings about this. But as Protector, Vincent is vulnerable and as leader pro tem, if something happens to him, then what? Nor is appointment a very egalitarian process, and Father seemed to want and build a shared community so this appointing seems not to fit. The community has existed not some 30 years and should have a role is choosing its leadership.

I do see Father overall as trustworthy. The community certainly had a comparison to show them his qualities in John Pater. His departure was quite the upset in the newly forming group. So they saw all that Father did to help them form and keep them together, so yes, they knew the quality of man he was. If I didn't believe in his quality, I wouldn't find the secrecy of his paternity so jarring. Had he told Devin about his parentage, had he not over-compensated in his treatment of Devin, might Devin had stayed? Might both Devin and Vincent be capable of leadership? None of this, of course, we can ever know. Not telling so he would not 'set him apart' just doesn't seem a reason a smart man like Father would make. Years down the road, someone will be a leader who has a family, unless a rule is made one must be childless! I just can't see it as the problem Father does, I guess, nor can I really believe he would see it as that much of a problem either.

Zara said: Ah, you are assuming "I didn't want to set him apart from the others," indicates an issue of favoritism


Yes, I am, and I think it is a logical assumption. Setting apart vs keeping together. Perhaps he felt being his son would set him apart for that reason alone, but that does not speak well for the egalitarian principles Father wished for the community, so I do see that favoritism might be likely to occur. Which is also why seeing Vincent as an heir apparent, if the community does, and as Father seems to think he is by naming him the next leader if he didn't survive in SOG,they clearly don't have an egalitarian process established for succession of leaders.

Zara said: Making special efforts to meet a unique child's special needs is a VITAL, ESSENTIAL, IRREPLACEABLE act of inclusion.


Please do not think that I meant this. I probably will fail trying to explain what I did mean, but will try anyway. Sometimes in these situations, besides providing for the special needs, there begins a process whereby the focus of the parent is consumed by this, and attention (and perceived attention by others) can be drawn away, or slighted in some fashion, toward others. This is what I was intending to convey in what I meant toward favoritism in this situation. And so begins a process in these others of building resentment, not toward the special child per se, although that can happen (yet deep down I believe the person truly knows the difference, but emotions take over), but toward the person seen as favoring the special child. Devin experienced this, I believe (and why other tunnel children could have also), when his emotions erupted and he said, 'Yes, I hate him!" (using memory here) in response to Father's admonishing him in the flashback about taking Vincent to the carousel. It sounded to Devin perhaps, at that moment, that Father framed everything in relation to Vincent, and gave short shrift to considering any other tunnel child in this event, as well as perhaps others. Kind of like it becomes a 'knee-jerk' reaction, if you will, rather than a thoughtful discourse of the subject at hand.

Always glad to fire you up, Zara, and S too! That way I get to learn so much from you both!

Winterfesting merrily,

Pat
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Zara
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote: I probably will fail trying to explain what I did mean, but will try anyway...


No worries. You explained just fine. :) Thanks for clarifying!

~ Zara
Maclurv
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Re: How we see Father

Post by Maclurv »

Glad that you got my meaning, Zara, because the first sentence made no sense! (Of course, a good parent would do those things that you list was intended there). My mind was in overdrive this past week!

Interesting quote from Chesterton. With introverted Feeling as my auxiliary preference, deeply held values leap forward when I experience something that relates. I think this is certainly happening here. I do value honesty (and yes, I agree with Zara that there are times we consciously make a decision to withhold), and I also naturally go to the potential candidate who may be hurting and empathize. So Devin became a persona for me. I am such a victim of my own being sometimes, try as I might to be otherwise!

Enjoying the discussion.

Pat
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