Saturday, November 17, 2012

Against Prophecy

I think I have a serious peeve, twitch, irk, grating aggravation conception against Prophecy in Fiction. But it's a specific type of prophecy - because I'm sat here thinking that ' I know Duke Crocker from Haven's meant to die at the hands of someone with a particular tattoo and it doesn't bother me'.

So, what's the difference? Well first of all? It's who made the prophecy. I actually know. And when it was made - recently. And why it was made - because this was the seers gift/curse to see how people will die.

Does such a curse/gift make sense? No, not really. But I can take a step back for the sake of the in universe logic. Such an ability exists. And it has foreseen this main character's death.

Which leads to number four. This is a prophecy about how someone will die. It's specific. Most of the time it's 'The prophecized one' and there's some hazy handwavium about greatness against darkness or against the ultimate or some shite like that. Sometimes it's 'this is the one prophezied to end you - great evil mustache twirling baddie'. And there's only one prophecy of such type I actually buy into - the one regarding a certain baby ending the days of a certain King. Ahem. And it's got nothing to do with faith. It's got everything to do with the structure of the story making it seem like fate is sending out wireless signals, and of course this king had a hookup with the right people to try and clone those signals and read the messages. It was not, let's say, a message he was supposed to get - but he was working the angles.

So I guess that's the second kind of 'prophecy' I can handle. When something is on the wings of magic or existence and some folks with the skill to read it (but who shouldn't be reading it), hijack into the future to find out stuff. And then?  I honestly can't remember in this case if it was one item amidst dross, or if they were particularly searching for 'shall our employer be thwarted and leave us all out of jobs'.

I guess, I guess now that I'm writing it out - the thing that's upset me, aggravated me, pissed me off about prophecy in spec fic is that it's mostly a shortcut path to 'This is our chosen one - awwwh!' (cue the choir). The prophecy makes the character special. The prophecy means they were MEANT to do xyz and 123. The prophecy is guiding the tale, guiding their lives, blah blah blankety blah blah.

No one ever knows who gave the phrophecy. No one ever discusses the reliability of the source. No one ever discusses the possibility the information within it might have been warped - given that these shortcuts to greatness tend to be decades upon decades old, sometimes centuries old. Who the heck was trying to hijack the future that far ahead and for what purpose? it's just 'There is a Chosen One w/i this prophecy and that prophecy and this is the one! Awwwh!' (cue the choir again).

There's never a culture set up in these universes of honoring prophets either. Of say, having individuals for whom jacking into fate or the future is their gift/curse, and they have special school/temples/complexes with archives and librarians and they just see EVERYTHING (the poor suckers) and it all gets written down and someone somewhere decides that this prophecy is nothing but The Farm Cycle. And that orphecy is 'OMG The Royal House Shall Fall!!!'

Also, why are there never any consequences involving these prophecies? And no, I'm not meaning just in time for the protaganist to have some conflict. But why hasn't the 'Royal House' which 'Shall Fall' not hidden the prophecy, destroyed it, refuted it, burnt and salted the earth of the place where it came to be. Why isn't there a culture AGAINST seers (as much as there should be one for them)? Why isn't there misinformation purposely spread so this or that noble house could continue to survive, so that someone couldn't attempt to fit the bill of said prophecy in order to defeat their enemies (or maybe just people they didn't like)?

There is one other prophecy I actually liked. From the movie BulletProof Monk. And what I liked about it there is that the SAME prophecy held true for each individual who'd end up being 'special' over the years. That it was like a contract with fate "Once these circumstances happen, these individuals will be primed to be the next xyz." Like a program with a loop. In which case it feels less shortcut and more 'When the time is right, you will begin to know because fate loops this way. These things will always happen'. When you say something will ALWAYS happen - then it gets mystical to me. Then I don't take a step back so much, or at least can take a step forward into the world again, because the same circumstance for each individual through the years? That's actually interesting to me. And in the case of BulletProof Monk (the movie) it's VERY interesting. Because it's very specific. But not just for 'one' chosen, for every chosen. Ever. Forever. And it says nothing about whether said individual will succeed or fail - just that 'when these things happen, pay attention to this individual - it will be important'.

So what do we have, what do I have?

I need to know who made the prophecy. Why they made it. When they made it. How it's lasted so long (if it's been years and years). Is it untampered? What about it gives it the ring of truth? Was it specifically looked for? Is it about a specific situation? A specific circumstance? Was the seer trustworthy? Why does this prophecy matter? Why was the prophecy created ?

What I don't need; what I cannot enjoy reading is 'And the BLAH TITLE BLAH Prohecy has states a chosen one will come, and lo there will be turmoil, and yea verily the ultimate moment of the ultimate struggle shall arise....'

[hah, it looks like somethings just feel as if they belong here - even though, OMGWF is w/ all the white and open space blogger. Oh my EYES. Andwhy are my tags all squished up in a corner? OMG the gurbleick!]