EVERYTHING IMPORANT IN LIFE I LEARNED FROM TARZAN
by Martin Hash
There's a pop-psychology phenomenon that blames Walt Disney for the
social innocence of modern youth. In the world of Disney, good is
rewarded, evil mends its ways, and everyone lives happily ever after… Luckily,
I escaped those misconceptions with the help of my literary mentor, Tarzan
of the Apes. In the world according to Tarzan; good is ephemeral,
evil is implacable, and you survive through reliance on your own strength
and effort. Especially important is that life always remains complicated
for Tarzan, through at least 24 novels, innumerable cultural references,
and a timelessness that transcends generations. For Tarzan, life
is always difficult – and he always overcomes.
First and foremost, Tarzan's adversaries are either entirely noble,
like the lion, Numa, who was only an enemy given the fundamentalist of
motives: hunger; or ignoble, like man, who is driven by the civilization-produced
notions of greed, avarice, and lust. These latter deadly sins never dissipate
in those that contain them – the only way to vanquish such an enemy is
through death. How often I have used this knowledge to good advantage,
for if I followed the Disney philosophy, I might futilely hope for such
an enemy to be reasoned with or co-opted in some manner, but I know that
Tarzan would never be so fooled – Tarzan would avoid contact with such
people, or kill them if he must, but he would never assume they would simply
go away. Contrarily, Tarzan made a lot of friends – in fact, it was
so easy for him I felt my own small cluster of childhood friends inadequate
– but no friend ever seemed to be around when Tarzan needed them, and if
they were, they were ineffectual allies. Even his highly capable
son, Korak, was little more than a footnote. Tarzan taught me not
to rely on friends in a pinch but expect my enemies to be relentless.
Secondly, no matter the odds to the contrary, Tarzan always expected
the best. Coincidence might be rare but it does exist, and if you
don't account for its presence, you can never take advantage of it.
The American culture of optimism melds neatly into such a philosophy, and
for all the aspiring presidents, millionaires, sport and movie stars among
us, Tarzan shows that hope springs eternal, and is rewarded on a regular
basis. Even if I've failed repeatedly to draw to an inside straight,
I know Tarzan would never quit trying.
Third on the list, but maybe the most important for one's self-fulfillment;
Tarzan was satisfied with whatever his immediate circumstances might be,
and never exhibited the base traits of envy, spite, and resentment when
it came to his own lot in life. If he was forced to wrestle gorillas
and live among the arboreal treetops then that was his happiest state;
but if his situation caused him to assume the manner of an English lord,
then so be it. Granted, both of those pursuits appeal to my own primeval
proclivities but the message of inner peace and tranquility was clear,
Finally, Tarzan founded his existence on the love of his mate, Jane.
My own intellect and modern wisdom knows such infatuations to be specious
and fleeting, but the ecstasy of even a momentary liaison of such a powerful
nature is enough for any man to strive: hope springs eternal in love,
and rightfully so. Tarzan taught me to love.
So, though I admire the "wonderful world of color" espoused by the Disney
empire, I instead strive for the gold and emeralds of Opar that only Tarzan-like
karma can procure. If there's one bit of wisdom I can pass onto my
grandchildren, it is to ask, "What would Tarzan do?"