When I wrote this three years ago, I little realized we were about to be hurtled into an ongoing nightmare that would last until now. It makes the simple human qualities of Outlander, all the more poignant.
While many modern self help guru’s have touted living in the present, in the “NOW’ as they have put it, as the proper way to live in this modern world. “One must live for self and forget about history and what is shaping for the future.”
These things lead to discomfort, they say.. Some other philosophical thinkers have expounded on a very different approach. Colin Wilson, the writer who was a member of England’s “angry young men” following the second World War, was such a one.
Wilson wrote a book called “The Outsider” using great creative writers as examples he noted that some of the greatest, who he designated as “Outsiders,” are aware not just of the present day but of “other places and other times.” They possess the key insight to not be limited by the illusion of the moment but to expand into eternity, as it were. It may not be a comforting pleasure trip, being an outsider, but that quality, exemplified in creators like Van Gogh, T.S.Eliot, H.G. Wells, William Blake and Earnest Hemingway is what makes us, as human beings, distinctly unique.
Which brings us to Outlander. Outlander, the series, is now in its 6th season. I truly enjoy this production which is like an epic film with very high quality acting, story-line, locale and Cinematography, which goes on and on most wonderfully. It is based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon.
The series tells the story of Claire Randall, (played by Caitriona Balfe) a former military nurse from World War two who, with her husband Frank, (played by Tobias Menzies) visit Scotland in 1946. There she finds herself transported through a time portal at an ancient site to the year 1743.
Once she understands her predicament Claire, who is extremely intelligent and has a previous knowledge of history, is able to bluff her way into appearing to be an English woman who had been captured by Scottish Jacobites. She is escorted to an English military headquarters where her adventures in time and history begin.
Her arrival in Scotland just a couple of years before the battle of Culloden puts her very much in the thick of things. Early on she meets James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser, (played by Sam Heughan) who becomes her Highland lover. The ongoing story of Claire and her mates and friends in two different time periods has steadily grown in popularity over its years of production.
It is not a pretty story, though it has great beauty. It is a violent story, though it has great love and tenderness. One is given few moments to settle into the “Now” in this story. All that we don’t want to look at is here and all that we most want to look at, is here.
We must look through Claire’s eyes and realize the dilemma of considering she might actually be able to change history by knowing in advance where it is headed and if she could change it what then?
Outlander deals with very basic life experience with family, with friendship, with loyalty, with love at its deepest and best. These concepts touch the core of the human condition, they form a kind of spiritual responsibility our heroes and our own consciences do not shy away from. Our own natures and our history cement this.
We all time travel when we rethink the past and hope to improve the future through our choices. In watching I came to realize that we still have much of our human bravery, we would not want to watch, and absorb so much realness. I’m very proud of us for that.
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