(Second post in the A to Z Challenge)
A century ago Joyce imagined the modern person as patterned after Ulysses: crafty, wily, exiled, searching. We've now entered the Age of Achilles. We sing, we fight, we complain, we demand, we exalt -- anything to keep that name from fading into nothing. It is not the search but the projection. We're more emotional and transparent than past eras -- sexual frustration and dysfunction are no longer dominant obsessions of writers. Even artists hunger for games.
We're tasked to win wars we didn't start. Almost gods, but still vulnerable to the arrows of pretty-boys. So what can we learn from Achilles? Better to brand ourselves like Achilles than be branded like cattle. Four brief lessons. (I've learned bulletpoints from those oh-so-many MBAs I've worked with over the years.)
"Olympian Zeus, thundering up on high, should give me honor--but now he gives me nothing."
We create our own gifts from the discards and the waste. No one is anointed without struggle. No line awaits for easy entry. Our names mean nothing, until we create that meaning.
"But he sensed it all in his heart, their fear, their charge, and broke the silence for them."
A noble goal for all creators: to earn our keep by breaking the right silences.
"Mix stronger wine. A cup for the hands of each guest--here beneath my roof are the men I love the most."
Stay open to outside reasoning, but be unswayed by emotional appeals. Achilles' compatriots line up to tell him how their ideas will bring more riches, respect, honor, victory, stability. Their advice is not all bad, but to follow it would make him no longer Achilles.
"We'll probe our wounds no more, but let them rest, though grief lies
heavy on us. Tears heal nothing, dying so stiff and cold..."
Write failure into your story. Build around the pain. Tears are not adequate action, but nor are they weakness. Iconic actions do not conform to protocol. Mercy is not an anathema, but neither is it a given.
There are (now-peaceful) warriors everywhere you turn your head, but so few choruses to commend them. Words run to infinity, but attention does not. May they sing your song for years to come.
Any unconventional branding tips? What sets you apart?
The first three quotes come from the Fagles translation of The Iliad. The last comes from the Fitzgerald translation.
Image Credit: Giulio Romano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
*Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. A purchase through them will not give me imperishable glory, but I'll settle for perishable pennies.