Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Anchors

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 07:38 am
seryn: frozen water drop (ice drop)
One of my current favorite books, Stray, by Andrea Host, (this one: http://www.andreakhost.com/ ) uses the same term, "anchor" that I've seen in Teen Wolf.

[Quick aside: I love Stray because the heroine gets put in this incredibly untenable situation and *keeps going*. The whole thing is told from her perspective in diary form (which is usually rather irritating, but this is a lot more narrative than my diary-type entries) and even in this private forum, Cass is resilient and strong and stoic. Like, she talks about how the fire it took her days to figure out how to start went out because the bowl part of her bowl of water deconstructed itself--- with, "had an epic tanty and stormed off". Which, as the worst reaction, really, isn't bad for being trapped alone on an alien planet fresh out of high school.]

There was a common quoted bit in the sequel, saying that an anchor doesn't work when it's pulling away from you. (Kindles have this "show common highlighted bits" thing... I hate it and turned mine off really soon after seeing this.)

It's always bothered me. Because, actually, that's kind of how anchors work in real life. As a metaphor, no, but when you think about a ship with a dropped anchor, that's what's really going on, the anchor causes increased resistance and effectively pulls in the opposing direction from the ship's.

We don't talk about "anchoring things to the ground" much. When I think of that as a concept, I'm thinking tent stakes (which are actually optional on a lot of modern tents as long as you put stuff inside and don't wander off) or the concrete footings for construction. And really, calling those things "anchors" is poor word choice.

When Teen Wolf talks about anchors, they're aware that these are kids still in high school, so it's not the permanent construction type.

Weirdly though, Stray and Teen Wolf both talk about anchors the same way. They're the people in our lives who hold us together when times are hard, they provide comfort and support in a deeper way than friends do. They're the people who make the struggles of life worth enduring. They're the ones we want to be better people for when we don't otherwise care. So Scott, the main character on Teen Wolf, has to learn to control his newly acquired werewolf nature and uses his girlfriend to focus. She grounds him. And he loves her enough to overcome the killer instinct. Cass has, at the point of the anchor comment, nearly died at least a dozen times and just seen someone die. She says that she wishes her friends could be what she needs but she knows it's Ruuel.

I'm not complaining about the concept. I just think "anchor" is a shitty word to have chosen. It's a lot like the "out of spoons" thing, which is an enormously useful concept to have explained, but the spoons themselves limit the approachability of the idea because they're unintentionally representational. It looks like someone with chronic illness measures their life in teaspoons, like their life is *smaller* than someone else's which is unfair and untrue for many many people. If there were poker chips and the original explanation had said, "spend a token" instead of a spoon, I'd have a lot lot lot fewer issues. Anchors just don't work the way the metaphorical use implies. Anchors hold us back from going where we were going. They're the parents enforcing nap time when our friends are ready to play. They're the "we can't go on in the dark because the dark is too scary to navigate, we have to find a way to hold still." But the metaphorical usage is more like the safety harness at an indoor rock climbing wall. We soar to new heights and make greater achievements if we're not going at it alone. If there's someone who cares, we've got stability to leap from.

I modeled a lot of my deliberate behavior after Cass's in the wake of my husband's illness and death. (There was a LOT of un-deliberate behavior though.) But what struck me most this time is how foundational the love of her family was to her. It's really amazing how truly damaged I was by not being loved as a child and how much that affected my ability to feel secure in what otherwise seemed like a stable relationship. I wonder, if, truly, my insecurity exacerbated the problems my husband had. Obviously there were better ways to handle it than what ended up happening, but my trust in his love was very fragile and easily broken. I know he was deeply hurt by this. But I still don't really believe in love.

The relationship between Cass and Ruuel takes a long time to form. But there is absolutely no doubt they have serious feelings, although it feels fairly groundlessly so. Scott and his girlfriend Allison have visibly intense feelings and we're shown enough to know that it's not just lust on Scott's part. I think I believe in serious feelings and intense emotions and the kinds of things that draw people together, and I'd be willing to use the word "love" as a shorthand for that. Overall though, love doesn't seem to mean that to other people, it's like "love" is a shorthand for love which is a shorthand for feelings which is a shorthand for the kind of intense emotion that binds disparate people together... and there's just too much meaning lost by the time people use that word.

That might be the rational behind using "anchor" but that just doesn't work for me.

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