Skip to main content

MOVIES AND METAPHYSICS

Movies are transporting. They carry us away to faraway places, where we encounter fabulous realms and experience astounding adventures through the eyes of our most beloved characters. I've loved movies ever since, as a boy of 9, I was taken to the theater to see E.T. The Extraterrestrial. And my passion for films grew to such a fevered pitch that rare was the day I would not visit the cinema, or pop in my favorite DVD, or VHS, and enjoy at least a few scenes from some of my favorite films, like Amadeus, and The Big Lebowski, Fight Club, and Watchmen. Like such stars as Spielberg and Scorsese, Cruise and Pitt, Streep and Spacey and Sheen, I endeavored to make a career out of my cherished pastime. I wrote several screenplays. Unlike the aforementioned individuals, my efforts never met with success. Nary a script did I sell! At least I learned to take rejection in stride. Failure does your ego a favor, is my motto.

And so I moved on, first to medicine, then to the realm of metaphysics. And metaphysics, I have come to find, has much in common with movies. For metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that treats the nature of reality, and the relationship between mind and matter. The term itself was coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who wrote a treatise on this ancient subject, which he titled Metaphusika. I have never read it. But I have read other writings by Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers, and other individuals the world over who have found themselves, just like I was as a boy, transported by the power of their cherished pursuit, which carried their minds to other realms. Only these realms are not in a galaxy far, far away. These realms lie deep within.

And as far as I can tell, the entire discipline of metaphysics boils down to one simple phrase: All is One, whose essence is Love.

So metaphysics is all about love. Just like in film, where the best movies always feature this sublime feeling, this all-consuming power of love, as a motivating force in the lives of the characters. And in every movie, great and small, blockbuster and bomb, while being entertained we also find ourselves edified. We are constantly reminded of ancient truths, if thinly disguised.

Take the film Amadeus, which treats the life and work of the prodigious composer Mozart. Early in the film, Mozart is a young man, who having composed his first symphony at 8 years old, is already a celebrated talent. He gets the opportunity to play for the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II in front of a huge audience; and yet his virtuoso piece fails to impress the amateur ears of the royal personage, who actually YAWNS during the performance. What a royal outrage! After the show, the emperor tells the irate Mozart that his symphony has too many notes. "Just cut a few, and it will be perfect." Mozart flies into a rage of course, replying, "There are neither more nor fewer than the piece requires. I cannot remove even one."



And I found myself thinking about the great symphony that is life, written and performed by the virtuoso of virtuosos, the Divine Itself. How easy it is to critique life's symphony! To fault-find and disparage. Who among us does not complain about global warming, overpopulation, rampant obesity, income inequality, all of which litter the pages of periodicals and are perennial topics in the political arena. And throughout our rants we neglect to remember that there is a higher intelligence at work in the world, much greater than any individual mind, greater than all minds put together. And that this power has the bird's eye view, can see everything, and knows that everything is in its place. Despite what you or I may think, everything is perfect just the way it is!

An analogy from my medical training. Take a person with a rash. If you examine the area, you will notice disarray, inflammation, cellular warfare. If you take that part of the body for the whole you can easily believe that the entire organism is out of whack, that "everything is going to hell in a handbasket," as armchair pundits are heard to say. But even those cells participating in the inflammatory response are a necessary part of the overall metabolic process, and perform a useful function which the individual viewing an isolated event can easily miss. Imagine if you were the bacteria, just trying to make a home, only to be attacked by an immune cell, totally unprovoked. What's unfortunate for the individual can be for the good of the whole.

Life is a grand symphony, composed by the celestial mind and performed by US. There may seem to be too many notes (too many people people), some of them discordant (Internet trolls, religious zealots), perhaps even a lot of disarray (wars, strife, natural disasters). But it all forms part of the great performance, and since we are not the Creator but only the players, and the audience, whose capabilities are sometimes amateurish at best, who are we to judge? And we're not even emperors!

But even the opinion of royalty isn't really worth all that much. Remember the story of the emperor's new clothes. He was really wearing nothing! The moral of this story is, it's best to pass naked through life, naked here being a metaphor for casting opinions aside and viewing life in the stark light of truth, and speaking and acting (and playing) from fact. 

As for facts, there is really only one that counts, thank you movies and metaphysics: All is One, whose essence is Love. Live it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

EVERYTHING'S INTENTIONAL

There is no such thing as screw-ups.

Case in point. My excellent friend Deej comes over to help me beautify the garden. He immediately dives in, crouching down on his knees and weed whacking with his bare hands. Before I can say yay or nay, he proceeds to remove a huge clump of daisy greens from the oblong patch of Earth adjacent to the driveway. The area instantly looks bare. Like the back of Woody Allen's head. Smoothing out the soil and shaking his head Deej mutters to himself "I fucked it up!" over and over again. We try everything. Planting succulents in the daisy's place. Covering it with rocks. But still the area looks barren. And every time you water it the water trickles down onto the sidewalk in the absence of roots to hold it in place. It's getting dark so we go back inside. The next day I return to the spot with a clear perspective and remove all the other daisies, leaving only rose bushes and the succulents that DJ planted, and depositing 10 bags of m…

SOUL CYCLE

This is not a commentary on the latest fitness fad. Because if it were, the little I'd have to say on the subject would be largely derogatory. I simply cannot see see how crouching in a stuffy, dark, cramped room surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers while expending a lot of energy and going nowhere deserves to be called fun, though aficionados tell me it is (fun). I tell these aficionados that if no pain no gain is your thing, discomfort can be had for a lot cheaper than $50 an hour. Try plucking your nose hairs. What we don't do for the sake of beauty. This endurance heir to the Stairmaster and elliptical is all hype. There's a name for the type who likes to run (or otherwise move) in place. It's called a hamster. 

This reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell, about what living with a woman turns a guy into. You go from a wolf to a sheep to a hamster. After nearly 40 years of married life, my dad has added cockroach to the zoological lineage. Which I'm sure …