FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Wisdom of Hushpuppy

In the powerful film Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hushpuppy says:  “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the whole universe will get busted.”

I think about these words as I lie in bed, laptop open, watching episode after episode of Breaking Bad, a TV series in which nearly every action is a catalyst for depravity. The main character, Walter White, is a high school chemistry teacher, diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.  He decides to “cook” crystal meth to provide financial security for his family. At some point, Walter says, “I have made a series of very bad decisions and I cannot make another one.”  Yet he does.  Oh, how he does.

Walter White’s world becomes disordered.  His universe fragments, fitting together just wrong.

Laura and Erma, two thirds of the sisterhood, have seen Breaking Bad. We discuss it, obsessing on the characters, dialogue, and the devolution into destruction and egomania. Then, we turn to real life. On the anniversary of 9/11, I was reminiscing about living in Manhattan for a couple of weeks in late August and early September of 2001. Charles remained in Nashville, working at Vanderbilt, our house on the market. His employment in NYC would start in February of 2002. Son Hunter and I were in a sublet, a place I’d found near Union Square. He was scheduled to begin his sophomore year of high school in the next couple of weeks. One morning, I suggested we explore the Financial District.  We arrived around lunchtime to an area crowded with people, so dense we could hardly move. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t like the family arrangement, the distance between husband and wife, father and son. I missed Charles.  He was flying up on weekends, but this wasn’t enough. Just seemed abnormal.

Later in the afternoon, I said, “You know, we don’t have to do this.  We can go back to Nashville and move here when your dad starts the job.” Hunter was fine with whatever I decided.  I scheduled a flight for him to Nashville, and I packed. Two days after he left, I was on a plane for Tennessee.

“You must have a crystal ball,” people said to me.  The towers were ash, twisted metal, and human remains. Our neighborhood (the sublet) in Manhattan was blocked to traffic, and the country was gripped by red-alert alarm that resulted in panic, nationalism, the Patriot Act, and the war of terror.  Chain reactions.

“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right.”

On September 11, 2001, events fit together for an imperial juggernaut. Sure, it had begun years earlier, but this was the coup.  This was fear with a capital F, capital E, capital A, and a capital R.  It continues still.

The entire US debacle depends on everything fitting together just right or just wrong, determined by privilege, circumstance of birth, job title, and health, among so many fulcrums.

This dovetailing, like the sequence of disasters in Breaking Bad, an apt fusion for the cataclysmic response to 9/11, was and is just right and just wrong for the perpetuation of immoral wars against our planet and humanity.  We are beasts, wreaking chaos, unleashing bedlam, breaking bad.

Walter White says, “The blowfish puffs up, okay? The blowfish puffs himself up four, five times larger than normal. But why? Why does he do that? Because it makes him intimidating, that’s why.”

I think about this.  Not just the blowfish but also this blowfish country of might makes right or wrong.  Not just war agony but the process of life, too. I know that much of it is naturel loss, enough decay of the body from physical aging and death, without an ocean of tragedies resulting from decisions that fit together just right or just wrong to profit the few and impoverish the many.

As Hushpuppy says, “Sometimes you can break something so bad, that it can’t get put back together.”

Missy Beattie can be reached at missybeat@gmail.com.

 

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail