Villain = Resistance
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[And now to today’s post … ]
Every villain is a metaphor for Resistance.
I know this sounds all-inclusive to the point of outrageousness, but it’s true.
In Jewish mysticism, the negative force (translated by my friend Rabbi Mordechai Finley as “a turning toward evil”) that equates to Resistance is called the “yetzer hara.”
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually … And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
In Kabbalistic thought, the soul—neshama in Hebrew—is a divine and entirely good force that seeks to communicate with us on the material plane to our benefit. Kabbalists say that above every blade of grass is an angel whispering, “Grow! Grow!”
But there’s a catch.
Between us and the neshama stands an entirely negative force—the yetzer hara, aka Resistance—whose solitary aim is to block the soul from communicating with us and us from communicating with our soul.
That is the “turning toward evil”—the built-into-Creation impulse, even compulsion, to self-obstruction and self-destruction.
Why does the human being need stories? Why do each of us hunger for saga and myth so instinctively?
Because we all feel that “turning toward evil” inside ourselves. We fear it. We hate it. We’re desperate for wisdom and insight into how to combat it.
That’s what stories are for, and that’s why every story has to have a villain.
The antagonist, whether it’s the Alien or the Predator or Dr. No or Dr. Lecter or Dr. Strangelove, is a metaphorical version of the yetzer hara, of Resistance.
Resistance is insidious.
Resistance is implacable.
Resistance is indefatigable.
Resistance is protean. It shape-shifts. It lies. It dissembles. Its aim is to destroy us, body and soul.
Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
And, though Reese doesn’t mention this …
The Terminator, i.e. Resistance, i.e. the yetzer hara, does not change and cannot change.
The villain in our stories, yours and mine, must share as many qualities with Resistance as possible.
Resistance is impersonal.
Resistance is a force of nature.
Resistance advances upon us like night, like winter, like death.
I rode a tank, held a general’s rank,
When the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank
The villain we write should be like a wildfire on a mountain or a storm at sea. Like racism, like misogyny, like homophobia, like the Thing, like the shark in Jaws or the Tripods in War of the Worlds, our villain must be as unaltering as the stars and as void of mercy as Satan.
Resistance never relents.
Resistance never changes.
Resistance = Villain.
Villain = Resistance.