Archive for the 'movies' Category

Winning the chess game

September 2, 2012

The transition from seeing the world in three spatial dimensions plus time (or whatever we usually do) to something with more depth and less chronology and no dualism can be tough, I think.  I think it’s like learning to breathe while swimming.

Some people get stuck trying to “win” life in the material world as if it were a chess game or winning were achieving a fairy tale ending.  This keeps them breathing as if they were on land, not in the water, and hence limits their ability to swim.  The pursuit of power, wealth, health, etc. keeps them from detaching enough to perceive the chess game as nothing more than it is, an exercise, not the end in itself.

In the pursuit of trying to “win” the chess game, clever human beings have done the equivalent of breaking one of the pieces in one of those three-dimensional wooden puzzles, in order to get that last piece to fit.  I see some medical interventions in this light, for example, and other attempts to overpower and modify nature.  The chess game at its most fundamental level cannot be changed, and to the extent that our material world is secondary to that fundamental level, we cannot change the world in an absolute way — we can rearrange the chairs, not actually eliminate them, even if we dismantle and burn them, they carry on in a new form.

While some people are trying to muscle their way to winning life, others wait for fairy tale developments to occur in their lives, perhaps even insisting that certain people in their lives play certain roles in that drama — rescuing hero, evil villain, etc.  It’s tough when a soul wants to hold out for what seemed like a promised ending to the tale, rather than allowing themselves to come to the realization that it’s just a story, whatever the ending.

I think there’s something to be said for having a sense that this is the task, to recognize material life for what it is, just as it helps to recognize another person’s emotional and behavioral profile — seeing through something allows us not to contribute negatively to the situation, for example.

But how do you teach someone to accomplish the actual task of seeing through life or a person?  At some point they actually have to do it themselves, not just have an intellectual understanding of the task.   (And for some people, knowing what’s ahead makes it more difficult for them to do it, through their self-consciousness or impatience, for example.)

I think teaching in this context is really only about coaching, helping a person develop their skills for the activity.

The skills are simple, I think.  Willingness and listening, both of which require increasing levels of self-awareness and openness for clear hearing, and then following the guidance.  There are “special ed” versions of participating in this process, but ultimately there are no couch potatoes in this, everybody makes their own art project (to use three images in one sentence).  And then the person eventually starts noticing that is an art project, an object separate from themselves.  And that allows them to get up from the chess board or say something like, “This is where I came in,” as if they were at a double feature movie matinee years ago.

The game board remains, the movie continues for the others in the audience, but the self stops looking within those confines for an ending.  They realize that the “end” is the end of a phase of perception on their part, not the end of what they’ve been perceiving as either triumph or tragedy, winning or losing.  Hence, not needing to win is a secondary effect of having recognized all this, rather than a concerted effort of the will not to be competitive or something, and not needing the fairy tale ending is a consequence of seeing why the idea that there would be one occurred at all.

I’m not sure the details of these realizations are that important beyond their usefulness in moving the person to the perception — I think they can even be idiosyncratic rather than the generally accepted patterns of thought taught in recognized spiritual disciplines.  Once the person sees through, the means by which they did wither away regardless of their quality.

Which is good news for people who get a little lost in their journey — we just have to get there, we’re not graded on whether the journey was efficient or elegant.


Going to the movies

December 20, 2011

Going to the Movies


He wants me to write

Him a poem

Every day, he thinks

I’m a poet.


He doesn’t know I’m

Secretly petitioning God

For carfare

To go downtown

To take in

A matinee

Double feature.



Gender changes

July 28, 2011

My son recently wrote a paper on the effect of changing the gender of Hildy Johnson from a male in the play The Front Page to a female in the movie “His Girl Friday,” which was based on it.  My son found understanding the nature of the relationships well enough to follow the writer’s points was easier with a romance than with old fashioned male workplace relationships (the entire first act of the play was somewhat impenetrable to him).  I felt somewhere in the middle, being able to imagine how men like my grandfather (born in 1889) and someone (born 1907) I was close friends with when I was in my twenties and he was in his seventies, might have behaved.  This then got me wondering how long the interplay of the sex roles in “His Girl Friday” would actually itself be comprehensible — just how timeless is our current concept of romance actually?  Made me wonder further what kind of relationship will be used as the next vehicle in a remake of the story.