I woke up this morning with images from last night's viewing of Cool Hand Luke on the brain. That rarely happens to me. So it got me to thinking, what was it that makes it so amazing? The acting was absolutely superb, especially Paul Newman who seemed to become Luke. I mean, without him there couldn't have been "that old Lucas smile".

But what stuck it in my head was something sinister. Then it hit me. While Cool Hand Luke is fun to watch, the authority figures are from that same darkest dystopia as Naked Lunch and Superjail! and other recollections of true dystopia. Its obvious from the beginning that the Bosses and Captain aren't going to like Luke. But you think theyre probably human, except No Eyes. So when Luke is asked if he is going to be trouble, and he shakes his head and says "Nah" I believed him. I think he's saying "well of course I'll fight you every inch if you throw the gauntlet, but I mostly play by the rules". And in the poker game and the egg eating contest where he was up against other prisoners he did play fair.

The seminal choice that set forth an irreversible avalanche was putting Luke in the box after his mom died. Luke reveals his humanity by playing "Plastic Jesus" after hearing the news. So he is punished for his humanity. And the Captain and all of the Bosses were revealed to be agents of the System

Play was engaged. Whether circumstances would have beckoned Luke to run otherwise, with such an affront, with such an act of the supremacy of authority over compassion, Luke had to bolt. For not to do so would be to give up himself for a gray mass. You know, then, that the Bosses and the Catain would not suffer one as Luke to exist with pride and unspoken defiance and never intended to though his exhibition of his nature was quite amiable. Such is the nature of control structures.

So Luke ran. And be ran again. And I am left to wonder if for one moment, in the facsimile of a grave, they broke him. I would wish to think that his confession was a lie compounded by his answer to the cajun that they really broke him, an answer that I would like to hope that he gave because there are parts of him that he would wish to show no one and the cajun guessed too near. It is sometimes easier to admit humiliation than to show one's self.

In the end, Luke, the anti-hero, is caught, like all true anti-heros must be. The System will destroy every threat, however minute, but that does not mean it wins. And it didn't win against Luke. He calls out, echoing the Captain's words, "What we have hear is a failure to communicate." "You can destroy me, but you can't break me. And honestly, I could give a rats ass about you and you'd be better off leaving me alone." No Eyes shoots him. Big surprise. And Luke dies. But he dies with that "old Luke smile on his face". Sure, he'd rather have lived, taken what pleasure from life as one like him could. But they didn't break him. He didn't bend.