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2003-10-02 7:27 p.m.

wicked

I’m really depressed.

I just read Wicked by Gregory Maguire. It really depressed me.

Why am I so impressionable?

For me, the message of the first 75% of the book was that intelligent, caring people working for change will never be able to overcome the stupid and vicious masses out to preserve the status quo. The end of the book says that such an intelligent, caring person, after experiencing a life of frustration and loss, can expect to eventually become bitter and callous. This will eventually evolve into cruelty and viciousness, at which point you can expect to die a sudden, unexpected, and meaningless death. Perhaps right at the end you’ll realize how badly you fucked up.

I guess real life isn’t necessarily like that, but sometimes it is. Causing meaningful change takes so long and involves so much frustration, and sometimes nothing changes anyway...

Honestly, I didn’t feel like the end of the book followed quite naturally from the beginning. It felt forced, as if the author realized he’d better wrap this up and make the end more or less fit the mold created by L. Frank Baum.

I reread the original by L. Frank Baum and watched the film again before jumping into this book, curious which version Maguire would be working from. Turns out some of it takes the movie version, much of it takes the book version, and some of it isn’t in either. Anyway…

(You can read the original here. It’s a pretty quick read.)

There are just so many people in the world who don’t care about the world’s problems because it doesn’t affect their lives here and now. That attitude really disturbs me. What disturbs me more is that I have that attitude myself much of the time. I find I’m often too absorbed in buying my CDs and watching my movies and reading my books to really care too much what’s going in the world. It doesn’t matter if people are suffering, even if they’re suffering in the name of my comfort, because it doesn’t directly concern my life.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to do. Sometimes it seems like there’s so many pet causes to choose from, how could I possibly prioritize and say “This cause is more important to me than that one?” Sometimes it feels like nothing little ol’ me could say or do will make a difference. There are so many excuses to put it off and continue on in apathy and indifference indefinitely. But I really do believe that “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Which of course leads to another idea, one of the themes of Wicked- questions of the definitions of good and evil and the dangers in labeling things as one or the other. People and things are rarely if ever easily divisible into good and bad, right and wrong. I see the world in shades of grey, not black and white, and I’m convinced this is the vision closest to reality. It does make it hard for me to come to conclusions and commit myself to… anything.

“People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us. It’s people who claim that they’re good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” -Gregory Maguire, Wicked

“If only there were people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” -Alexander Solzenitzin The Gulag Archipelago

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” -Bertrand Russell

and there the wicked old witch stayed for a good long time,

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