Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everybody's in Show Biz

From photography to cinematography. Mouravieff says that "Incomprehensible as it may seem, our life is truly a film produced in accordance with a script."

Okay, I'll bite. I mean, I live in a place where not only is everyone in a film, but everyone from my pool man to my Egyptian cabana boy is trying to sell a screenplay. Continue.

"Each human being then, is born with his own particular film" (italics not mine; Mouravieff just really likes to use them). Now, what he calls the exterior man (analogous to what Raccoons would call a Flatlander), because he lives his life in the two-dimensional line between past, present, and future, can never really be a witness to his own film.

Of course, this is my bag, since this touches on the task of the clinical psychologist, which is to discern the plot, recurring themes, conflicts, and major players in the patient's film, and share our film review with him. No thumbs for you!

This is why, as I have explained in the past, it turned out to be such a natural transition for me to go straight from film school to graduate school in psychology. Although I did not know it at the time -- for I was only just starting to critique -- and pan -- my own film, I was ultimately destined to be a film critic.

And of course, the sicker the patient, the worse the movie. Wait, I take that back. The sickest patients tend to live out films that are reminiscent of being in a funhouse. Everything about their lives takes on a kooky, surreal cast, which at times is hard to believe, for how can such weird or horrible things keep happening over and over to the same person?

I think it's just a matter of the person's exterior matching the interior, as every day, on a moment-by-moment basis, they are making choices and decisions based upon their own lack of a center, hence the failure to understand the film they're in and the role they're playing. In short, they create a surreal world because they themselves are one.

For example, what type of person marries Larry King? Or, just what kind of person does Larry King think would be willing to marry a decrepit ATM machine?

Schuon said something very interesting about the centerless man, who, by definition, cannot understand his own film, because it will appear so random, chaotic, or meaningless. Such people always ask why did this happen to me?, when they are precisely the type of people about whom it is unnecessary to ask that particular question. Imagine O.J., for example, sitting in his jail cell, asking Why me, Lord? Let us count the ways!

Anyway, in the aptly titled To Have a Center, Schuon discusses the type of people who live "on the fringe of themselves" and who therefore "give their blood to phantoms." The lives of such men will inevitably fall into a multitude of shifting "superficial idolatries" and "blind alleys leading to despair." Or, they will spend their lives trying to prop up the old idols or find newer and more exciting ones.

Such a person is immersed and dispersed in the impotent field of his own scattered subjectivity, and therefore "at the antipodes of the 'one thing needful.'" This is also why you are wasting your time arguing with such a centerless people, who have no knowledge of the dreary films they're living out. If such a person happens to be in the creative arts, their work generally "amounts to inventing aberrant stories in order to prove that two and two make five..." Michael Moore comes to mind. And if they are in politics or the media, their task amounts to convincing you that wrong is right and lies are truth. Michael Moore comes to mind.

A major problem for our culture is that, because its values are inverted, we often elevate the lowest caste to the highest -- hence, the production of a type of art that not only holds no appeal, but is disturbing to anyone who is remotely awake. The vile man not only likes such things, but is attracted to them precisely because they mirror his own disordered interior and therefore legitimize his sordid existence. People need Light, but if they can't see it, they will demand vivid Darkness instead (ironically, they call it "realism"). Gravity takes care of the rest.

The lowest caste, the chandala is characterized by a "decentralized subjectivity, centrifugal and without recognized limits" (one thinks of Tiger Woods). But in a deteriorating culture such as ours, the outcast becomes the in caste, the one everyone aspires to, for he seems the most "free." The centerless losers envy and idealize fellow losers such as Tiger Woods, just because the latter has the resources to live out the dreams and fantasies of his cosmic loserhood.

Of course, a centerless man appears "free," since he has broken free of his own -- and therefore God's -- axis. But the freedom is only illusory, for one only plunges into the waiting jaws of individual, collective, and cosmic mind parasites.

In a memorable passage, Schuon describes the man who exhibits "a tendency to realize those psychological possibilities that are excluded for others; hence his proneness to transgression; he finds his satisfaction in what others reject" and "exhausts those possibilities which no one else is willing to touch."

Such a person may be "capable of 'everything and nothing.'" I think of someone, for example, like John Lennon, who, if he had not been successful in music, would have likely ended up in jail or worse. He was completely ungovernable, least of all by himself. And yet, this is hardly to say that he was without talent. Indeed, as Schuon goes on to say, such a person may even be "protean if he is gifted," but in my experience, the productivity is short-lived before becoming repetitive, exhausted, or trite -- as indeed occurred with Lennon.

Another fascinating observation by Schuon is that, through the law of inverse analogy, such a person can actually resemble certain saints, and can you think of a celebrity who was more sanctified by the boomer generation than John Lennon? I well understand the impulse, because I happen to be one of those people who venerated him in my youth, as if he had anything useful or important to say beyond rock on! Which is not nothing. I still listen to his immortal version of Twist and Shout on a regular basis.

Still, a little perspective is needed in order to place the legitimate urge to rock in the proper context. It cannot be a way of life, or one ends up at the farthest fringes of the cosmos, like Bruce Springsteen or Courtney Love. Fortunately, most of these people also live in gated communities, which at least affords us a little protection from them.

Oops. Out of time. To be continued....

28 Comments:

Blogger Grant Maher said...

Now THIS is a true Godwinian post! Replete with disparaging remarks about specific individuals.

The one about Larry King by far the best. "A decrepit ATM machine."

Lordy, lordy. No more on that.

On the main gist of the post, seeing each life as a film is a novel and interesting axis of thought.

If I could add anything it would be the central conflicts of most "films" are first introduced in the opening scenes, and are then played out largely within the confines of a primary or spousal relationship in midlife.

Young adulthood and old adulthood are zones of relative consolidation and assimilation rather than of actual combat.

The entire plot of a life, or two lives, can best be sussed out of a marital history study.

4/15/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

re :
Lennon
[[=a McCartney-eliminated 4 vol. collection of John's Beatles output]]
--i can see what you mean [his solo alvins] but it's John Lennon after all! --didn't have a redemptive chance like he well may have taken

Films indeed---heading to Tribeca Festival next week, where a docufantasy has friends/music of mine. The subject Joey Arias is a Libra like JL; the latter ran into him on the streets of Gotham one afternoon, offered a friendly 'Hey Brother!' to the flambuoyant young performer

4/15/2010 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger lance said...

Who writes/wrote my script? Did I write it? Do God and I write it together? Is it written by the world around me?


Help?

4/15/2010 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I have no idea. You're asking me to review a film I haven't seen.

4/15/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger lance said...

Haha That never seems to stop other film reviewers. :)

4/15/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

"I think it's just a matter of the person's exterior matching the interior, as every day, on a moment-by-moment basis, they are making choices and decisions based upon their own lack of a center, hence the failure to understand the film they're in and the role they're playing. In short, they create a surreal world because they themselves are one."

This post put me in mind of that horrid Paris Hilton "sculpture" with her internal organs exposed.

4/15/2010 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That painting shows him with some seriously wonky proportions. In that regard, at least, it's more accurate than a photo...

4/15/2010 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of films and narratives, this one's a doozy (Via Lileks):

Taxes to Save the Axis

4/15/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger debass said...

Should be Taxes to destroy the Axis. We were the Allies.

4/15/2010 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

the type of people who live "on the fringe of themselves" and who therefore "give their blood to phantoms." The lives of such men will inevitably fall into a multitude of shifting "superficial idolatries" and "blind alleys leading to despair." Or, they will spend their lives trying to prop up the old idolatries or find newer and more exciting ones.

That might be hitting a little too close to home. I can see where I've lived on the fringe way too much -- and, if nothing else, those "blind alleys of despair" sound a little too familiar. I'm going to have to think about this one.

4/15/2010 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Debass - sorry, my error. I needed a nap, and after watching all those swastikas and guns go scrolling by, my ability to interpret what was said was a tad off. Verbally speaking, "Sock the Axis" was a little too close to "save the axes," which would be a whole 'nother video. And he says "Taxes, to sink the Axis" at 4:40 but the way he says it sounds a lot like "save" to an obviously distracted brain.

Also, I was thinking that these days our taxes do more to "save" the Axis than to destroy them (whether one means the old version or the new). Let's face it - most of the time, if we're going to send a strong message, it's that we're going to cut off their allowance in some fashion. Which we then rarely follow up on.

Anyway, I've just shared entirely too much about how my brain works while surfing the webs without coffee...

4/15/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

Julie-
Nothing to apologize for. When I was young, WWII was still fresh in everyone's mind, so it was instilled in me by my parents and grandparents who all the players were.
My brain is just an amorphous blob until I've had my coffee. Coffee is like the transporter in Star Trek. It reorders and rejoins all the molecules into a functioning life form.

4/15/2010 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Back to the topic at hand, Pope Benedict on moving from the fringe toward the Center:

we see that to be able to do penance is a grace – and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed.

The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation – this pain is grace, because it is renewal – it is the work of the Divine Mercy.

4/15/2010 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Debass, on another note if you want a truly transcendent coffee experience, you can't go wrong with some of this.

Alas, my intake is limited for the time being.

4/15/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger f/zero said...

The sickest patients tend to live out films that are reminiscent of being in a funhouse.

Uh oh, I'm worried about my addiction...no strike that...attraction, yeah that's it, to Terry Gilliam movies.

Maybe more coffee will help.

wv: cycoo...

4/15/2010 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think the Coen Brothers might have the market cornered on that score...

4/15/2010 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Call it "gothic comedy"....

4/15/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Perhaps not unlike the childhood of at least one reader...

4/15/2010 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Okay, raise your hands: whose childhood was a gothic comedy?

4/15/2010 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Does it count if you were a Gilliam character in a Coen Bros. flick?

4/15/2010 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Someone once said "life is a dream in which all the dream characters dream too". Or to translate into today's metaphor: we star in our own films in which the co-stars are starring in a film of their own (and we co-star in theirs...and so on). Perhaps narcissism is believing that there is only one film going on...one's own. Which is probably good working definition of hell.

4/15/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

the movie metaphor/cinema simile: Do
God's subjectivity and our subjectivity have something in common besides a great sense of humor?...a desired getting-lost in seeming others' seeming dramedies that are playacted not real?

'According to Kashmiri Saivism ... the relationship between Siva and jiva is not that of a master and servant but of equality and sameness. It is like the relationship between a mirror and the reflection of the objects we see in it. They look different but we cannot separate the reflection from the mirror. Nothing exists outside Siva. All the jivas and the entire creation exist in him like a reflection that cannot be separated from him. There is no difference between Siva and jiva except that the souls are subjected to a state of temporary delusion due to an act of concealment enacted by Siva through his dynamic power. He does it as a play (lila), for his own amusement (ananda). The game ends when the soul, released from its bonds, merges with Siva like a drop of water falling into the ocean.

4/15/2010 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

We all are stuck between God and the devil, and they both want us—one for joy, one for destruction. History and the movies reflect the ever–present spiritual struggle.


"Yes. Yes, I believe it. I believe it because I want to believe it. Gentlemen, I give you a toast. Here's my hope that Robert Conway will find his Shangri-La. Here's my hope that we all find our Shangri-La.”

Lost Horizon (1937)

4/15/2010 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Jason T. said...

Can anything be inferred about a personality but what their favorite movies are?

Being John Malkovich
Magnolia
Fight Club
The Big Lebowski
2001: A Space Odyssey
L.A. Confidential
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
American Beauty
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Forrest Gump
Pan's Labyrinth
O' Brother Where Art Thou
Closer
Jacob's Ladder
Match Point
Amores Perros

Wow, lot of pathology there to be certain. I have a theory that art may be used as a reflective device in service of personal introspection; long before my Awakening to the ever-present Divinity I was always trying to figure myself out through interpretation. I love lyrics for this as well, but movies take the cake.

Although, hands down the story that changed me the most during my interaction with it was Haruki Murakami's "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle." Amazing...

4/15/2010 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"I think it's just a matter of the person's exterior matching the interior, as every day, on a moment-by-moment basis, they are making choices and decisions based upon their own lack of a center, hence the failure to understand the film they're in and the role they're playing. In short, they create a surreal world because they themselves are one... Schuon said something very interesting about the centerless man, who, by definition, cannot understand his own film, because it will appear so random, chaotic, or meaningless. Such people always ask why did this happen to me?, when they are precisely the type of people about whom it is unnecessary to ask that particular question...."

While those of us conscripted into the audience are no different than those watching the horor movie "Don't go back in the house!.. don't go in the basement!.. don't open that door!...", I think one of the more curiouser aspects of this is that after watching them do all the things we told them not to do, yet knew they were going to do, we still shreik when the monster jumps out and 'surprises' us.

4/16/2010 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Jason T. said "Can anything be inferred about a personality but what their favorite movies are?"

Might depend on whether they still watch them? I see one of my old favorites on your list, The Wall, movie and album over and over for quite awhile... but the leprechaun convinced me "So, you want to see crazy? Keep coming here to drink, and I guarantee you, you're gonna see Crazy!"

No, I won't elaborate, except to say, I stopped going there... and coincidentally, Life's been good.

4/16/2010 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jason T. said...

Van,

I know what you mean. As my vertical identification becomes more stabilized I have less and less to do with movies and worldly art, preferring to spend my time reading. But I must admit that when something is really well done, even if its content is morally dysfunctional, I still can enjoy it, especially if it is lined with elements of truth in regard to the world of relativity.

A perfect example of this is the work of Martin Scorsese. A few months back I was at my brother's place and "Casino" came on the TV. I was absolutely enthralled by his mastery over the craft. Even though the content and characters were reprehensible, I couldn't help but admire the truthfulness of them both, as well as Scorsese's ability to weave music and moving pictures together to create a story.

Then, just last month, his new movie "Shutter Island" came out and I felt a little torn; should I or should I not partake? Ultimately I did, and I am glad because it was a phenomenal experience. Even though it was over-flowing with all kinds of insanity and terrible imagery, watching that man's ability to direct was like, to quote Bob from today's post, watching Gretzky center a puck from behind the net, or watching Joe Satriani rip a guitar solo.

For me it is all about the resonance which emanates from the art, which is an amplification of the artist's ability and intention while forging the work. Saw the film that won best picture this year "The Hurt Locker" and felt ill afterwards, a dark and heavy energy pervading my body-mind for a few hours. And even though logically it may have been truthful in its relation of dismantling bombs in Iraq, there was no love in the form of craft.

At least, that was my perspective...

4/16/2010 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Jason said "...when something is really well done, even if its content is morally dysfunctional, I still can enjoy it..."

I am still fascinated by such things, but no longer seek them out, and if they do come on, I watch them with a more detached eye than before... sort of feels like watching a 'who done it', which you've already seen - there's no mystery, you're not sucked in and can more easily watch it for what it is, and is not.

About Scorsese's Casino, sort of fitting for these last few posts, I'd never seen or heard of it until... last year? Not sure, but I was flipping channels, saw De Niro & Joe Pesci and decided to watch... it all seemed so eerily familiar, and then, I think it was when De Niro's car blew up, I realized that this wasn't just a movie, it was all about Frank Rosenthal and Tony Spilotro... I grew up in Vegas with that movie playing out in real life all around us, Rosenthal had a sports handicapping show on local TV, the store Spilotro's gang burgled was walking distance from our house, a kid I went to school with, his Dad was an ex-FBI agent and a client of my Dad's, he was blown up in the parking garage of my Dad's office bldg... I'd seen this movie made without a script and on the daily local news....

It was a weird sensation.

4/16/2010 11:26:00 PM  

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