The Cultural Diversity of Characters
It has been said that the greatest fiction consist of conflict between light and darkness, good and evil, Batman vs Joker, and a host of heroes and supervillains in-between. It’s not just evil characters that bring life to the good guys; it’s also society itself acting as the villain that etches life into some of our greatest characters.
Such is the case of Danny in the story “The Entertainer” by Lani Carrole, or “The Trail of Stars” by Paula Dooley, or the racially and politically motivated story “For the 100th Time, He won’t be a Recycled President.” These are tales in which society acts as the villain, and the protagonists and heroes must come to terms with these vilified societies.
In “Recycled President” the hero attempts to change the evil of the villain; ie, society itself. Yet society completely swallows up poor Danny in “The Entertainer” like a hungry beast. Society should have become a utopian paradise in the technocratic world of “Stardust,” but instead showcases a caste system in which the upper class versus the lower with a bungling musician and his poor decisions which add dimension to conflict.
In the story “A Victim of Propaganda” the Grecian protagonist (our most famous character) leaves her culture for a more favorable one that suits her independent and comedic flair.
For the final two stories, the cultures are not used as villains. Instead, they are crafted into catapults that propel extra-ordinarily strong characters into the readers’ minds.
“The Sudden and Mysterious Disappearance of The Pretty Good Gatsbys” showcases an almost bygone ska-jazz culture with the main character getting lost in an underhanded deal because of unpaid debt. The ska culture sucks the reader into its rhythms and beats, until the horrifying yet satisfying ending bursts forth like staccato drums.
The last story, “The Lemon Thief of Munjid Al Salam”, showcases our strongest character who might have risen to the forefront of his religion. Instead, he finds purpose in a most surprising manner in the desert while searching for God. Willing to die for the sake of doing what is right, he helps a people he can only see with his heart.
All six of these tales reflect writing style and plot and characters. But more importantly they represent culture and how those cultures often mold our minds and characters into heroes and villains. Some characters are swallowed up by culture. Some rebellious characters divorce themselves from their cultures.
Our strongest characters use culture as tools. They take their cultures into themselves and rise on the wings of eagles, with the conviction that only cultural belief brings.
It is the hint of a ska-jazz tune; the prayer of an imam’s plea; a trail of stars leading to downward spiral; a song of childlike nightmare; a bawdy tale of Olympic proportions; and a tale of history dying to repeat itself: the Cultural Diversity of Characters.
BIO: John Arthur Miller invented Liquid Imagination. He graciously and enthusiastically agreed to be our guest editor for this issue and the publisher is sure you’ll enjoy his selected stories. Here are some of his words from earlier issues of this magazine:
Issue 1, Fall 2008: Liquid Imagination began long before the idea for this magazine existed within the minds of its creator and editors, and Liquid Imagination will exist LONG after this all comes to an end. Liquid Imagination pours from the writer’s heart and fills the bristles of the painter’s brush. Liquid Imagination calls from the mysterious night, swoops across the silver splendor of the moon, and nests in the confines of your mind.
Issue 8, Jan 2011: If you know anything about Liquid Imagination, you know how important dreams are to us. Especially the two dreams responsible for our existence. Dreams are the stuff of legend and literature. Whether it’s realistic or surreal, nightmare or fantasy, the emotional truth behind dreams gnaw at our minds. Private dreams become public dreams, which then become myth. It’s even possible that the two dreams that started Liquid Imagination Online will one day become a myth.