Posts Tagged ‘LOML’

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind – Would *You*?!

December 20, 2008
There comes a moment when watching Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, the surreal comedy-fantasy from writer Charlie Kaufman (ok, fine, and director Michel Gondry) when the wonderment ends (or at least pauses) and the wondering begins. Wondering, if such a controversial procedure was available (and safe, and legal, and affordable, and didn’t void one’s health insurance policies, etc), would you sign up for it?

The procedure in question involves erasing certain painful memories, in this case, a subdued Jim Carrey’s memories of his tumultuous relationship with a feisty Kate Winslet. Not just the bad parts – everything. Forgetting the good parts, the quiet parts, the sexy parts (who’d want to forget sex with Kate Winslet?), or that she even existed. It’s a big ask.

We’ve all had that one relationship that seared its way into the very fabric of our being, so that when it ended (badly, as it must) you can’t wash the feel or smell or memory of your person, no matter how many bars of Lux you go through. (Or, if you’re one of the hypothetical lucky bastards out there not reading my blog, you married her. And I hate you for it.)

Well I’ve been there (sorta, just without the feel or smell part), and while it seemed an interesting idea at the time, I was just too ridiculously fond of this person to want to erase her entire existence. But that was 3 years ago, and I still feel as strongly or more so, and the desperation’s making me see the merit in such a solution – for everyone. My cloying neediness has made me a liability, and I worry about my ability to function when around her as what she sees me as: one of her best friends. This closeness – yet so distant from where we were, where I think we could have and maybe even should have been – makes it all the more difficult (it doesn’t help that she fleeting reminds me of Mrs. Winslet).

So after years of hoping and seeing signs and developments that simply weren’t there (hey, I’m not exactly a seasoned pro) driving myself batshit crazy in vain, the straw that broke the camel’s back arrived on July 8th 2008 and culminated with my much-maligned and talked about End-Of-Life-Decision (as cracked.com would put it). After which I did my darnedest to sever all ties with her – for all of 1month. And it was a good month – I cared about nothing, was crass and carefree, the stress and depression lifted somewhat.

But my resolve broke, and we reconnected, albeit now on separate coasts, and I’m back at square one. I awoke late yesterday morning persisted by dreams convincing me that there actually could be a future for us, which buoyed me considerably.

Until I got a surprise phone call from her in the early hours of this morning telling me she’d shelved her long-held dreams to run off to Scotland because she’s found love here, and it seems he could (finally finally finally) be the real thing. Which is superb – as my best friend, I’m beyond delighted for her. But there’s where the schizophrenia comes in, as a part of me is dying a wickedly gruesome and embarrassing death, complete with petulant mewls and involuntary bowel movements. When is enough enough? Has fate not shown me enough times the writing on the wall to turn me into a well-versed scholar? And how can this whiny pining shit coexist with the pillar that’s supposed to be her best friend?

It would be tough – she’s been a critical component of my life for the last 7years, and if nothing else I value her friendship extremely. But, barring a precise lobotomy that would rid me of my pestersome ‘feelings’ for her, would I take the Eternal Sunshine treatment to be rid of it all – and her of me – once and for all? I’m leaning heavily towards a ‘yes’, more so than ever before, because it would be a welcome release (but then who’ll be my muse??) and she won’t have to worry about me going batshit and hurting or embarrassing her again with my ‘feelings’. It’s almost certainly a ‘yes’, but to be responsible, I’d really have to get back to you on it.

Or not, since it’s just a fucking movie. Fuck you very much Messrs. Kaufman and Gondry.

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The Meaning Of Life (from ‘The Dark Knight’, not ‘Monty Python’)

August 12, 2008

The Dark Knight is the gift that keeps on giving, as I continue to draw inspiration and ideas and concepts from it for my writing, my political and ideological sensibilities, and my personal life. That it would spur my renewed probe into the Meaning of Life is no surprise given the not negligible role it played in averting my attempted suicide some 35 days ago; that, in doing so, it would edge me over the precipice into a full-blown existential crisis is an expected side effect.

The Joker, the film’s magnificent central villain, espouses Chaos as the only fair way to live in the world. Harvey Dent, its impeccable hero fallen from grace, prefers Blind Chance. Neither truly exists in an unadulterated version in our world due to manipulation from the powerful elite in our society, who “make their own luck”. (Chaos negates a powerful elite, but remember that power vacuums are only temporary, and must eventually be filled).

That said Chaos, pure or contained, is the order of our existence, and Chaos is here to stay. In light of this, can life truly have any meaning? Because Chaos negates any true Meaning, the highest worldly calling is to reign in Chaos, which is where peace officers, aid workers and (allegedly) governments come in. Bruce Wayne is all of this in one, answering to a higher calling – the meting out of ‘Justice’ and ‘Order’ and serving the Public Good – than few of us will ever realize. This gives him Purpose, the only true Purpose in life with any concrete meaning: Self-Sacrifice. But what makes his special is scale; he truly lives for it, and if his methods are questionable, his impact is not.

Who else can have such significant or lasting impact on society at large? World leaders are quickly relegated to history books or celebrity fodder when their tenure expires, except when they serve in times of unmitigated Chaos, or – worse – when they cause unmitigated Chaos. It’s hard to swallow – but impossible to dismiss – that leaders or regimes like Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, or the Khmer Rouge have stronger Purpose, greater impact (and by extension more Meaning) than well-meaning ones like Clinton or Carter or even Kennedy (himself magnified by tragedy).

Bruce Wayne’s tortured quest as Batman may give him Purpose, but it doesn’t really give him Meaning, which is why Harvey Dent surmises that Batman can’t want his job forever. Wayne’s hope for Meaning lies in a much more attainable (or not, depending on your outlook) source: Love.

A pivotal moment: he agrees to turn himself in to stop the Joker, and there’s a sense of relief as he asks Rachel if they can now be together. Her response is a telling one:

“Bruce, don’t let me be your last chance at a normal life.”

She is his Love, but she’s also his oldest friend, and understands his heart the way Alfred understands his logical and philosophical machinations.

So it is that I propose the only way to can glean any sense of personal Meaning in this haphazard, chaotic existence is the fulfillment we can only gain from those we love, and those that love us back.

Mind you, I do believe in a Greater Plan, but also accept that on ground level it can only look like Chaos to our untrained eyes. And only in God can we find true peace and fulfillment. My point is that, as a Christian, it’s necessary to care for the overall betterment of people – a quest the Realist in me knows is fundamentally impossible. No matter what we do or believe, bad things will happen to good people, and at times like that, when Meaning and Purpose seem hollow, do we need the fortitude of those we love.

I believe this is why I fell in love, and as my outlook on the Human Condition grows bleaker and bleaker, I become more entrenched in my feelings, desperate for a crutch to lend me stability and guidance. The fact that it hasn’t been requited in a while hasn’t stopped the slide, or the growing ache that has accompanied it. It only makes sense, I suppose – if anything can provide an existence with Meaning, it shouldn’t be easily attainable if at all; that would cheapen the Meaning. I mean, can you seriously see Bruce Wayne quitting cape and cowl to live Happily Ever After with Rachel?

Christians know true Meaning can only be attained through true communion with God, something I’ve found myself woefully short on for years now. Valerie, the appointed LOML, is a devoted, inspiring but humanly flawed Catholic herself, which was perfect: through a Meaningful relationship with her, I’d find a Meaningful relationship with God – a rather reckless notion: Now I was burdening Valerie with the task to literally Save me – my sanity, my spirituality, my sense of being. It’s naïve and unfair – how do you tell someone that? There’s no way she can let you down easy.

Bruce doesn’t voice it, but Rachel senses it, and lets him down – easy. As hard as her loss was on him, it is the impetus to throw himself more blindly into his calling, so Purpose will consume a lack of true Meaning. For me, I’ll admit that my goal of writing and filmmaking are nowhere near as noble or high a calling, but I hope it can be every bit as consuming, to keep me functioning in this existence I am shackled to.

When I opted to kill myself on July 8th, 2008, thinking instead of the impending Dark Knight made me realize something: as Meaningless as life often felt, death was even more so by a landslide. And nothing drove home that point like Heath Ledger.

A promising career, a father and thoughtful soul, cut down in literal prime. Sure, he’s immortalized on screen like few others – his Joker is a vibrant, affecting portrait of sheer genius. There will be accolades, maybe even an Oscar, but so what? It doesn’t change the fact that he’s gone, forever separated from the adulation that he would’ve surely, despite himself, gladly – and deservedly – basked in.

‘Achievements’ are no measure of Meaning. Maybe Love is an oversimplification, but oversimplification could be what’s needed to attack such a large concept. I personally have never felt anything so strong, as to be unbearable – insomnia, anorexia, depression – and because I’ve so mangled it, never want to feel it again. Yes – even if I’ve got Purpose with no Meaning. Better than me have resigned themselves to such a fate.

The last lesson lies in Ledger: for all his very intelligent use of a God-given talent, from where I sit all I see is tragic waste. And from my personal vantage point, Life on Earth as we know it is one frenzied, frenetic activity devoid of Meaning, and then you die.

Pain Is So Close To Pleasure Part II: aka Don’t Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve and blah blah blah…

July 24, 2008

This being a sequel (hence the ‘Part II’ in the title), it would be advisable – if you’re even going to take the time to sit through any of this – to scroll down a touch further (ok, a touch more than a touch) to fill in the blanks with the prequel.

Football (soccer – keep up) is my other great love, and after seeing Nigeria’s Super Eagles flop at the African Nations Cup and Arsenal of the English Premier League (my ‘hometown’ club) capitulate in the closing stages of the season, all my hopes were on Germany – my other favorite soccer team. And I watched live, butt clenched in tension, as they lost in the Euro 08 final. 1-0. To Spain.

So I went a little apeshit – enough to call it a last straw, bite the bullet, and do something incredibly stupid that could alter the course of things.

I proposed to Valerie. By text. If you’d known our relationship, you’d have seen why this wasn’t quite the faux pas it seems to be (plus – it rhymed! “Marry me, Valerie”? A syllabic palindrome).

She was perplexed, and we didn’t really talk until I sent another text 2 days later asking “Why So Serious?” She asked if I was serious since I thought she was racist (I had merely pointed out that all humans are at least slightly racist, and when she denied having a racist strand in her DNA, I glibly pointed out that she was scared of black men, had twice made derogative remarks about Indian people – out of anger, to be fair – and thought the Chinese were trying to kill Westerners, which may very well be reciprocal). Admittedly it was an odd thing to ask shortly after the worst fight of our 7-year friendship (one it hasn’t recovered from), but I was deathly serious.

So what does this have to do with The Dark Knight? Well, a week later I almost killed myself but for its intervention (for another post), and then waited eagerly ‘til opening night, nabbing a ticket for a midnight screening. So it was on Thursday July 17th that I last spoke to Valerie, with the intent of either kickstarting things from their depressing doldrums or terminating them. It panned out as I’d expected, so I surreptitiously ended the conversation with her for good before heading out to see The Dark Knight, more pumped yet emotionally fragile than I recall ever being.

I have never been more infatuated with a film – I’ve seen better films, but never been as moved and enervated as this before. The Dark Knight is all things – beautiful, haunting, memorable, quotable, intelligent, passionate, tragic, energetic, ambitious, successful, bloody rich – that you could want in a love interest. And I am well and truly in love. So it is that I traded one love of my life for another within the space of 2 hours. They are both fascinating yet inaccessible mistresses, and will burn – brutally – because they cannot return the love that I unblinkingly fetter on them (believe it or not, The Dark Knight is just a movie). I’m obsessed, but I’ll love her long after she stops giving (which is a ways away), and be fascinated with the richness and communion of the experience that lasted only 152mins but feels much longer (especially after I see it 10 more times or so).

Yes, I have found the new love of my life. She is The Dark Knight, and she is lovely.