Friday, November 9, 2012

Reality and Fiction

The paper reported, a few weeks ago, the case of an Italian teacher, Franco Mastrogiovanni, who died after being tied up to a psychiatric hospital bed for 82 consecutive hours receiving neither food nor water and being ignored by the medical staff that kept passing by him. The 82 hours of pure agony were recorded by a camera and the video made public by a local newspaper.

The fact reminds of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring Again by South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk. The first chapter, Spring, has a Buddhist apprentice, a young kid, spend a few hours with his master near a creek not far from the monastery. The kid is playing around with stones and pebbles. For the fun of it, he's able to catch a small fish and ties a small stone to it. He later does the same with a frog and a snake, laughing and amusing himself as the animals struggle to keep alive. The master observes the scene in silence, but that night, while the kid is sleeping, he ties a rope with a heavy rock around him. The morning after, when the kid wakes up, the Buddhist master tells him that he cannot untie himself until he has freed the three animals; he also warns him that if just one of them has died, he will carry that stone of guilt forever in his heart.
The boy rushes, but the fish is dead. The frog is agonizing. The snake lies in a pool of blood: it was attacked by another animal and, unable to defend itself because of the rock tied to its body, it succumbed.
As he realizes what he has done, the boy begins to cry very heavily, riddled with guilt.

Reality and fiction often overlap, don't they.
Yet, in fiction, one way or another, through hecatombs or destruction, through the rattling of machine guns or the hissing of slit throats, a moral, even if a cheap one, always finds its way through.

This is the difference between reality and fiction:
in fiction we come to a definitive learning from what has happened once.
In real life, what has happened once, can happen again, and again, and again. 

Have you ever been kept tied to a bed or a rock with a heavy rope?



  1. How horrible! Maybe the same thing should be done to the staff that was done to that man, just like in the story.

  2. Have you ever been kept tied to a bed or a rock with a heavy rope?No, but I've done things I've subsequently been deeply ashamed of - and learnt

  3. What horrible stories! Unfortunately some of us are slow learners. It takes longer for the "resolution" of life than it does the resolution in a story. Sad, but true.
    This reminds me of the horrible treatments that the dolphins go through I write about. Sad to realize that's real.

  4. Alex,
    They'll be given the proper treatment in the circle of Hell they're sent to.

    We all have, I guess.

    Yes, it is all very absurd.
    Whenever you term a fictional event "absurd" and "unreal", after little research you always find out something similar but much worse has happened somewhere, some time, in the world.