On Why, In Heaven, I Will Be An Ape
Sep 11, 2011
Call me a sap if you want, and you’ll be right, but I found the new Planet of the Apes moving. It wasn’t the friendship between the James Franco character and the ape, although that was pretty nicely done. It wasn’t the Noble Savage thing, which is not only tired but silly — it’s not civilization that makes man cruel, it’s sin.1
Nope, it was all the jumping through the trees that did it. I swear I was born to be roaming a veldt somewhere, which is funny because (a) I stare at glowing rectangles for a living, and (b) I’m not even sure what a veldt is.2 But Andy Serkis and the animators did a tremendous job of capturing the physicality of the apes: their simultaneous grace and heaviness, their total physical joy. Like Hopkins’ windhover: the fire that breaks from thee then!
I can’t see that kind of thing without thinking of Heaven. When I go for a hike3 and come to a clearing, somewhere where you can see the earth spread out below you for miles and miles, I always want to jump, because I’m almost certain that if I did, I would just glide. It seems like the thing to do: food is for eating, people are for loving, and mountain views are for leaping into.
Except you can’t, because you’ll go splat. Which is the difference between here and Heaven. Another good thing about being a Christian: knowing that desire doesn’t lie. If I want something that’s impossible on earth — and I do, so often — it’s because earth is just the shadow of the real thing, put here to remind us of what real life is.