Who here has seen Peter Chung’s animated series Æon Flux before? It’s an incredibly clever show. Season 2 is my personal favorite, standing out as especially experimental and interesting in a series that redefines both terms. It has a quirky – but definitely not cute – sexuality; its aesthetic, which I find crazy interesting and often hilarious, can be described kindly as “offputting” or unkindly as “ugly”. And I think its prickly visual language is purposeful, keeping the audience just far enough from comfortable to fetishize it. But it also makes room for a degree of experimentation that is something to behold. For example, my favorite episode, Tide:
As you may have noticed, every shot repeats over each cycle, as Æon slowly tries to do “something” which, when revealed at the end, would have saved everyone. It’s a really cool animation technique, showing evolution through repetition. But what I really like is what happens when the repetition breaks down because of an oblivious external factor.
I talked to a friend recently about how they had to give up something impossible. It was something that they loved, but that was destroying their life. And it was through a pattern, a vicious continuous repetition, that they slowly broke down. And the most heartbreaking moment in that heartbreaking conversation was when they said that they knew they would never again have the one thing that made them feel complete. Giving up this pattern was a form of death, killing something they loved, killing their old life. For what it’s worth, they’re doing better, and though the thing they love the most is gone, they find solace in the fact that it is not the only thing to life. They have since found more to look forward to.
I think about these strange patterns I see in what we say and do. In our lives and throughout history, we repeat our mistakes over and over, somehow ignoring the lessons of the past. And everyone knows who to blame, because they’ve been taught who to blame, over and over. It’s hard not to see more destructive patterns within patterns that threaten to go off the rails any moment and only lead to ruin.
On the other hand, our patterns do change and grow. They split into factions and offshoots, or converge into something larger. Once humanity was ruled by competing bands of petty, tyrannical gods; now a majority follow religions featuring a single loving and protective deity. Our ancestors ate what they could get and hoped it would be enough; we create entire diets based around what we think is healthier, or more environmentally sound, or morally correct. So maybe that repetition is just a way of building enough momentum to get to the next step, like Æon was trying to do.
It’s just hard to determine which patterns are helping us, and which are leading us to our doom. But if that blonde woman knew what Æon was trying to do, and what was at stake, would she still have broken the pattern? Or could the repetition ended with them all being saved?