Sunday, 7 February 2016

Mulder N'Scully

It's hard to underestimate how influential the X-Files was for me.  It was part of the psychedelic '90s and provided a mythic framework for a long-standing fascination with Fortean Phenomena that has (probably to my overall disadvantage, professionally) persisted since childhood.

The X-Files got the quest aspect of this fascination exactly right. In his book Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur speaks about the quest as an 'extroverted' version of the Shaman's inner journey. The quester is 'active, single-minded, almost obsessive,' (p. 250), which describes Mulder to a tee. Check out this quote from season 3's 'Quagmire;'

Scully: It's funny, I just realised something.... How much you're like Ahab. You're so... consumed by your personal vengeance against life, whether it be its inherent cruelties or its mysteries, that everything takes on a warped significance to fit your megalomaniacal cosmology.
Mulder: Scully, are you coming on to me?

Harpur likens the quest to a pilgrimage, stating that the danger for the quester is that 'the Otherworld is too close to him, threatening to overwhelm and possess him (p. 250).' And this is exactly what happens to Mulder and his companions over the course of nine seasons and two movies; the Otherworld, represented by Aliens, monsters and conspiracies did, on a weekly basis, threaten to overwhelm the staid realities of FBI procedure.

The dyad of Mulder and Scully, too, seem to me very effective representations of polarities within ourselves. Each of us, I think, harbours an inner believer and a sceptic, or one side that's expansive and imaginative and another side that's critical and analytical. What the X-Files taught me is that our rational side cannot live without the imaginative, romantic side, and vice versa. And contrary to those who claim the X-Files to be anti science, here's a quote from the first movie:

Mulder: But you saved me. As difficult and frustrating as it's been sometimes, your God-damned strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over. You kept me honest. You made me a whole person.

So the first episode of the six part event series is broadcast in the UK on Channel 5 tomorrow night, and, whatever the quality of the episodes, I must admit to being hopelessly biased. Just seeing Scully and Mulder back on the quest will be enough, for now. From the pilot:

Mulder: When convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?
Scully: ...What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look.
Mulder: That's why they put the I in FBI.

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