The Myth of Icarus – a not-quite-right-but-sort-of-relevant-metaphor


Lifted by the fragile physics of myth –  The child Icarus.   Watch him soar. Transgressor. Trespasser.  Fool.

Desire.  Yes it is desire that drives Icarus onwards, upwards, but this word is the seed that has spawned the most terrible lies – arrogant boy, heedless boy.  The boy who thought he could touch the sun.  The boy who overstepped the mark.

See Icarus, a boy bearing the legacy of monsters.  Frightened boy.  Desperate boy.  His only desire is for escape from the dark place that has become his home.

And this is the only path of escape – a line in the sky marked by a hundred warnings   Hold the line child.  Not too high, not too low.

So Icarus holds fast to the line of the horizon.  But when the land falls away and the waves reach out for him, he panics.  Higher, higher he climbs, far from the rolling dark of the sea.  But…Hold the line child…he pulls back…Not too high…

Beneath though, the gods of the ocean stir, at least to the eye of Icarus, who has watched wonders and nightmares come to life.  The tide chases him, frothing with anger, ready to consume him.

In terror Icarus climbs, he cannot hold the line that has been marked out for him.   How much distance is enough from the gods and monsters at his back?  Face upturned, he strikes out harder into the light.  Higher and higher.  In his ears the shrieking air and the tin-drumming of his heart.

And something is very wrong.  No longer can he cut the air.  Blind, confused, flayed by heat and pursued by a nameless dread, he breaches the line of safety between sea and sky. And his feather-wax wings come apart.

The fall is steep and the ground cracks and gives way as Icarus’s body slams into it.

At the bottom of this pit Icarus lies broken.  Despite his escape he is once again trapped in darkness.  And everything hurts. He breathes. In. Out. In. Out. He can’t seem to help it – he’s just a metaphor so he cannot die.

After a time of not dying, Icarus moves tentatively.  Perhaps he can escape this hole. He shifts dirt.  Slowly.  Who knows how long for?  Eventually there is a dim light and he sees how smooth the sides of the pit are.  This could take a long time. He is not at his best, the pale light stings his eyes and his bones ache.  He lies down, perhaps it is too big a task.  Sometimes he remembers  or dreams the feeling of the air around him as he flew and weeps at the thought of never knowing it again.  Sometimes he remembers or dreams monsters and weeps at the thought that he has carried them with him.

Then, out of nowhere, a shadow falls across the pit and a voice carries down to Icarus  ‘You know you really ought to snap out of it.’


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