“Kill your darlings.”
It’s a saying common in creative writing--
The idea that in order for a story we are working on to move forward,
We need to cut anything that doesn’t serve the larger purpose.
And sometimes that can be hard
because some of those ideas, lines, images
that we birthed from our creative womb
can be very dear to us.
And it can hurt to let them go.
Even if we know it is what is necessary in the long run.
Of course when we say “Kill your darlings” we are talking figuratively.
But I also think it’s an apt way to think of G-d in Parshat Noach.
Last week in Bereshit I talked about G-d in the throes of the creative process.
That first week delighting in the first draft right brain mode
When everything is magical and exciting
Followed by the terror
When the characters you created--
in this case Adam and Eve and Cain--
Start to make choices you don’t expect.
Now with Noach, we see G-d’s world-building really go off the rails.
Eve and the snake and Cain whacking his brother were one thing--
But now we have giants in the sky and Angels having sex with humans
and all sorts of chaos.
Not gonna lie, I always thought that world seemed like a lot of fun.
But if you were G-d I can imagine being overwhelmed.
So though G-d probably cares deeply for the beings they have created.
G-d is also aware that they might not belong in the world they are trying to build.
So they create a flood and wipe out everything that isn’t working,
Preserving what works and building from there.
I mean there is a lot we can say about mass genocide.
And G-d just deciding arbitrarily that a whole swath of people aren’t worthy of salvation.
This isn’t the first time this happens in the Torah and it never fails to bother me.
But as a creator, I also get it.
I have this adaptation of the Persephone myth I have been making and remaking several times over the last decade.
Every few years I pull it out,
write 60 pages,
put it away,
cut 40 of those pages
and build it back up again.
Like G-d’s creation project,
Perhaps this play will never be finished.
But I can always save those other drafts.
And maybe some of those lines and characters that I love so much
Will find homes in other adventures.
And while many of the wild and wonderful weirdness of the pre-flood world
May not have fit into the picture G-d was creating.
But that’s what the world of Midrash is for.
I’m thinking of the song “Everything Stays”
From the cartoon Adventure Time.
About another world that experiences a crash
Where Marceline, a thousand-year-old vampire,
Reflects on a lullaby her mother used to sing her:
“Everything stays right where you left it
But still it changes
Ever so slightly, daily and nightly
In little ways, when everything stays.”