Friday, March 10, 2006

Sense and Desensitization...

Yearning is one of the most understated and therefore alluring aspects of the non-cinema, aka life. That said, for such a private experience it sure takes the cake for being dramatically expressible. Where would classical painting and silent film be without heaving torsos with outstretched arms and straining heads with teary eyes turned upwards. It's not so much yearning on display here in this depiction of Adam and Eve being expelled from paradise by Charles Joseph Natoire, but maybe it signifies the birth of yearning - the big bang of self awareness and the sting of consequences. The yearning of loss about to be set in motion.

Is it better to yearn for something had and lost or for something desired but unknown? I'd say the latter. More in synch with human progress (if somewhat less Oscar-worthy in its dramatization). What's gone is gone, but what we can imagine can always herald a new plan of action, a reeling in of the future. Of course, yearning for anything is better than no yearning at all. Fortunately, to some degree, we all know the opiate agony of navigating through this life while being (psychically or spiritually or romantically or emotionally) tethered to other worlds once had, or once dreamed. It is a necessary condition of our fixedness in one body in one time and one place. (I guess Kieslowski was dealing with some of this in "The Double Life of Veronique") Problems arise when the grand transformative power of yearning gets sidelined into the small potatoes neurotic neediness of consumer culture. How many flavors of licorice do you need? Beware the tiger pit of designer culture.

One day man discovered paradise on earth. He excitedly brought some people to see what he had found and proudly said to them, “Look!" And they looked, and they saw nothing. "What are we looking at?" they said, evidently bored and annoyed. For they could see no roads, no cars with GPS and cool rims, no Starbucks, no urban soundtrack, no cell phones, no Fred Segal shirts with ironic embroidery, no familiar faces to gossip about, nothing but trees and mountains and spring fed rivers and mossy grottos and tree-lined dirt paths and unusual animals walking through gently swaying fields of wheat.

The curse of all enlightenment: the more sensitized you become to the world, the more desensitized people you end up surrounded by. Hey, it's lonely at the top.


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