Captain Fantastic

This is a critical review of the movie captain fantastic, about the meaning of its content.

Captain Fantastic depicts a family led by Ben (Viggo Mortensen), that grows together in an isolated North Pacific forest.

Ben believes his children should be raised away from the noise of capitalist civilization. Instead of drinking soda and playing video games, Ben’s children learn how to hunt and rock scale and read Dostoyevsky and Marx. They learn everything they know from Ben’s brain and from the books they read. In fact, as the eldest son, Bo, secretly gets into America’s best universities and expresses the desire of leaving the forest, he tells his father that “unless it comes out of a book, I don’t know anything!!

The movie portrays that Ben’s family raising experiment is an attempt to mimic the ideas of human formation depicted in Plato’s Republic.

The suicide of Leslie, Ben’s wife and the mother of their children, creates tumult within the family, and Ben must face whether he will expose his children to urban civilization and travel to their mother’s funeral.

The movie drives through a clash of values, the values of an alternative, secular humanist take on childrearing, and more conservative/traditional values about the value of children playing and developing emotionally.

Throughout the film, it becomes clear that Ben’s philosophy is dangerous to his children, and that it was in part the reason why Leslie took her own life (I say ‘in part’ because Leslie had a severe case of bipolar disorder as well).

Leslie’s father pursues the idea of seeking custody of Ben’s children. The movie takes you to a point where Ben seems to have, perhaps not a moment of conversion, but a moment of realizing that his views and philosophy may actually have been detrimental to the well-being of his children the whole time, and he decides not to further ruin their lives and leaves them to the custody of their grandparents. Or so we think.

The film’s emotional climax, I believe, is when Ben drives away in the family bus (nicknamed Steve), having left the children behind. Here Viggo Mortensen’s performance is brilliant. He convincingly portrays sincere contrition and frustration over how he may have been f”#%ing up the lives of his children and have been the cause of Leslie’s suicide. As he man’s the steering wheel, Mortensen cries a convincing cry, and hits the audience with emotion as he looks through the rear-view mirror at an empty bus that was once full of his six children.

The film, I believe, could have ended here. It perhaps may have been a little painful, but it would seem correct. In principle, the film, and Matt Ross (its director) would be confessing the futility of raising children strictly on panacea-like secular humanist ideals of human development. A father’s contrition over having practiced this while raising his children, and the heroism and altruism of leaving his children to what he believes will be a better future, would seem like a fitting ending to a film and would strike a blow to secular humanism.

There may have been several methodological errors with trying to end the film there, however, including the fact that it was not clear that his father-in-law’s affluence would be the best way of raising the children either, even though it would, perhaps on the whole, be better.

In any case, the film does not end there.

Instead, Ben’s moving moments of contrition are interrupted prematurely. As he is outside of some city whatever, nurturing a fire, his children magically pop up from under the bus and emerge to console their father. Yes, during this moment of supposed contrition and detachment, the children are in a basement compartment of the bus, and they eventually come out, to the surprise of their father.

Warmth and tenderness ensue. One of the kids apologizes to Ben for having said “I hate you,” clarifying that he, in fact, does not hate his father.

But here is when everything gets ruined. All the pathos and the greatness of Mortensen’s moment of remorse are lost. Why?

Well, a plan they had to cremate Leslie, upon her request in her last will, gets resurrected at the children’s behest in this moment of father-children reconciliation. The problem is, Leslie has already had a Catholic funeral and was buried in a cemetary.

As the kids hug their father, having emerged from the bus, they begin to enthusiastically scream that they have to complete “Mission Save Mom.” And, given what has already happened, Mission Save Mom entails the family grave-robbing their mother’s corpse and burning it off somewhere. But that’s not all. Being very “comical,” Leslie left it in her will that she wanted her ashes to be flushed down a toilet. So, yes: part of “Mission Save Mom” entails flushing her ashes down a shitter.

The family does end up successfully unearthing the casket and boarding it inside Steve-the-bus. We, as the audience, are supposed to be touched as “touching” music plays while the children smile and pet their mother’s corpse in the open casket inside the bus that Daddy is driving. It seems bizarre in that even two of the youngest children, seven and perhaps six or five, respectively, are also nonchalantly enjoying the mirth and company of their mother’s corpse.

Eventually a pyre is set up somewhere in nature. The body is covered and adorned with plants and flowers. Viggo kisses Leslie’s covered corpse and speaks a romantic, “my lips, hands, etc, are mine, but I myself am yours,” and then the family sets fire to the rain. As the pyre starts catching fire, we are supposed to be moved when one of the daughters says something like, “Oh mommy, here goes your favorite song” and starts a cappella-ing Guns and Roses’s “Sweet Child of Mine,” with the rest of the family eventually joining in with harmony and instruments.

The family then bonds at an airport bathroom–where they will leave Bo (the oldest son) to leave to Namibia–by flushing Leslie’s ashes down the toilet (but not before saying “bye mommy”).

The end of the movie shows us that Ben has reconciled some of his radical principles with a more balanced form of upbringing, that keeps the nature-esque formation while blending with some more commodity. The family built an actual house now and turn Steve-the-bus into a chicken coup. The final scene is the family sitting down at the breakfast table eating perhaps sugared cereal, which the earlier Ben would not have allowed. One of Ben’s son pours him cereal and some music starts playing. We are left with that ‘touching’ scene.

What should one conclude, as a whole, of the film’s message? Well…

I believe the end of the film seeks to trivialize the robbing and burning of a corpse that has already been buried. What is more, it is not realistic to see a five and seven-year-old acting so joyfully and perfectly cool with their mother’s corpse in an open casket, and then dancing around the burning corpse at the pyre, the old pagan way. To nail the triviality further, the flushing down of Leslie’s ashes is also presented as a moment of family bonding.

Vigo Mortensen’s truly touching moment of remorse while driving off supposedly alone is ruined by the sudden happy return of his kids and their subsequent completion of “Mission Save Mom.” The movie trivializes a pagan ritual that has not been around the western world for hundreds of years and seeks to present it as a touching family moment of mirth and conciliation.

The believability of the film, moreover, is also compromised with this overly artificial ending.

Thus, if you seek a movie where the value of secular humanist principles in upbringing seem to lose and then comes back to triumph with a modernly pagan corpse-burning and ash-flusing, then Captain Fantastic, in its entirety, is the film for you. For more philosophically and emotionally reasonable viewers, however, the film would have done better to end with Ben’s (and Viggo Mortensen’s) sincere moment of contrition and detachment, one of the best depictions of emotional remorse in many films and clearly the moment of emotional climax of the film. Unfortunately, Matt Ross opted for a different kind of brain child.

 

-Lucas Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret in Their Eyes

In the beginning of the year, I watched “The Secret in Their Eyes,” starring Julia Roberts (Jess), Nicole Kidman (Claire), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Ray). I started this post months ago, but being busy with all sorts of things, I left completion of it until now.

The movie is about trying to catch the rapist and murderer of one of the main characters’ (Jess’s) daughter. There is much internal conflict both within each character, and among them. Their relationship strains due to the confusion of the whole affair.

Basically, after the rape and murder of “Carolyn”, Jess’s daughter, the team (working in the FBI and Court) struggles to find the murderer, Marzin. Eventually Marzin is caught, but–because he is a snitch to the FBI about a splinter-cell terrorist network–he is not charged. As an audience we are led to believe that the authorities simply let Marzin go and that he elluded the team’s efforts to exact justice.

Jess, Ray, and Claire struggle to make sense of the villain’s escape, and over what to do. Should they take vengeance into their own hands? This is a fundamental question throughout the film.

The audience believes Marzin simply books it and has been missing-in-action for 13 years. Ray, unable to forgive himself for Carolyn’s death those 13 years (she was kidnapped while waiting for him outside a bakery he never made it to), and demoralized by the corruption within the FBI, leaves and goes through millions of records to find Marzin. After years of searching, Ray “finds” Marzin, but under a different name and with a slightly different appearance. He sends pictures to be analyzed, and he’s given a 98% chance of match.

Ray excitedly returns at the scene after the 13 year cloister, telling Jess and Claire that he has found Marzin. Upon his insistence, they consent to reopening the search. In short, sh%# gets real during the hunt for the supposed Marzin, with some dead cops and thugs, and other drama. They catch the suspect, who is under the name of Beckwith and with a touched up nose, in a garage full of stolen luxury vehicles, along with some other thugs.

When Jess (Carolyn’s mother) arrives at the scene, and Beckwith is on his knees subdued, she takes a look at him and tells Ray that it isn’t the real Marzin. Upon his insistence that it is, Jess screams at Ray, pointing her finger in his face and warning him never to mention Carolyn’s name again.

What happens next?

Well, after it turns out that Beckwith isn’t Marzin, the whole search is dropped once again, and everything seems very demoralized. Jess, however, invites both Ray and Claire to her home outside of the city shortly after the episode, and we soon sense something may be amiss.

While the three of them are sitting in her living room, Jess begins to tell them the “actual” story. Beckwith was not Marzin. And of course he was not. Why? Jess claims that she abducted Marzin shortly after the case against him was dropped (in her story, Jess knocks him out with a baton and shoves him in her trunk, and then shoots him next to the noise of a moving train). She tells the deerstruck Ray and Claire that, actually, Marzin’s corpse is buried in her backyard. That she took justice into her own hands, and that Claire (an attorney of the court) could choose to proceed as she preferred..that she (Jess) was ready to face the consequences.

After this “pleasant” get-together, Ray and Claire drive back to their respective homes, Claire saying she wasn’t sure exactly how she was going to proceed in either turning Jess in or not.

A few days after this (I think), Ray seems to be losing sleep over this whole ordeal, unable to quite put something together. He thinks there’s a loose end somewhere. In his mind circle a lot of the conversations he had had with Jess throughout the 13 years since Carolyn’s death…and he keeps coming back to one thing: Jess used to always say that she was against the death penalty because those who were sentenced didn’t deserve to die, just like that; they deserved-rather-to suffer…to suffer intensely for the remainder of their lives.

These considerations soon lead Ray back to Jess’s home outside the city. When he arrives, she doesn’t seem to be in. But then curiosity takes him. He circles around to the backyard, perhaps drawn in by the image of Marzin’s buried corpse, or perhaps suspecting something else. When he enters the edge of the yard, he spots Jess–who doesn’t notice him–entering a very big shed with something that resembles a tray or plate of food. She doesn’t lock or close the door to the shed.

Ray walks through the yard and enters the unclosed shed, eyeing the back of Jess as she is arranging a plate of food. She walks left with the plate, and approaches a cage, slipping the plate under the bars. We see a humanoid figure, in rags and tatters, stinky, grimy, stale. Withered and frail, trembling. With the beard of a man who hasn’t been allowed to shave for years.

The grimed man spots Ray walking to Jess, and he drops the plate he had just picked up, provoking a clang. Jess turns around and spots Ray, wide-eyed and deerstruck. The man then tells Ray, “please say something, she hasn’t spoken one word to me” since he had been locked there.

Ray, in the meantime, expresses a confused and disgusted face, distastefully perplexed at the whole situation. Jess, in an abject and melancholy sort of manner tells Ray something along the lines of, “perpetual punishment, right?” This is an echo of the view we had previously seen in Jess, that the perpetrators of such crimes don’t deserve to be killed but should rather suffer for their entire lives. …To this Ray responds, “yeah…[perpetual punishment] for you too.” This is an allusion to the way Jess’s holding of Marzin has been an incarceration for her as well as for Marzin..that she has been torturing herself this whole time.

Ray then leaves his gun on a table, picks up a shovel, exits, and starts digging outside. Seconds later we hear a gunshot. Jess has killed Marzin.

I will leave this to you, now. Has Jess executed justice? Is what she has done just? Having Marzin locked in her shed for 13 years and then “liberating” herself by killing him. Is this, friends, justice?

The movie portrays it as being so.

Well, I believe it is fundamentally mistaken. Not only is it wrong to kill a killer (I will not go into the merits of the death penalty here), but 13 years after the fact, killing him in cold blood, seems to me the furthest thing from authentic liberation and ammendment possible.

This is not how Jess will achieve peace. She will still be, though not by letting Marzin live, perpetually chained, now by her guilt of having killed him in cold blood.

Even if the authorities are not on your side, and let the rapist and killer of your daughter go because he knows of a terrorist splinter-cell network, this does not justify your killing him. I am not here diminishing Jess’s pain, or the intense agony this may have caused. I have never experienced anything remotely close to what she does in the film. But still I must, on principle, condemn her actions. I hope that, if, God forbidding, I live a reality like this, I won’t seek to take justice into my own hands, not only by locking the culprit in my shed for thirteen years without speaking a word to him, but by then going on and killing him in cold blood because my colleague suggests it will liberate me.

The movie paints revenge in a light that does not properly correspond to it.

Those are my thoughts concerning the whole fictional affair. I am curious to know yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vocational Reality and the Galápagos Iguana

I wait for my friend, outside of the hospital,

I just had breakfast…

I bask in the sun now,

For the moment I am a Galápagos Iguana.

Just having inhaled that last drag before the filter that sort of burns the throat,

After a nice breakfast.

I feel relaxed.

The chapel, I will visit soon, to speak with the Lord.

But a thought comes to me first, which I developed..

I step into the shade, now, to record it.

The reality of vocation, which is so hard to be cognizant of,

let alone attain.

Vocation shows us who we are called to be,

Yes, as ourselves..

So many, including myself, have been unaware of it,

so many still are (in fact the majority of the human race is).

We drift so far from who we are called to be…

until we become something so far and so different from who we are.

Our nature allows for this,

yet becoming so does not correspond with our nature.

The degree to which we drift from it can, indeed, be drastic…

It is at the root of much of the modern gender ideology.

Seeing ourselves as completely detached from any vocational reality.

The Galápagos Iguana is called to bask in the sun,

and it does.

We are like the Iguana,

except that each of us is called to bask in that sun in a uniquely different way.

It is, though the degree to which is obscure, within our will to figure it out,

and answer, “Yes!”

 

 

 

The Sufferings of the Muse, and Man’s Proper Relation to Her

This is a philosophical consideration and poem on the Muse:

“The Muse…do not engage her, for she angers at trying to be understood.

She rather shines, or at least seduces nonetheless with boundaries; a figure of fascination, whose face and eyes veil a complication and suffering she is keen on others not seeing, let alone understanding.

The Muse might never let her heart be touched, or squeezed to touch and filter its intimate workings… Putting a finger where it hurts the most and provoking a scream that nonetheless is liberating, through the extreme pain it provokes. This act touches her utmost depths, and the moment in which she began to close herself to the world and those to whom she is the object of fascination.

Whether She was seen as fascinating before, during, or after this self-withdrawal and caking of the heart is not clear. For there is a reason she decided or became subject to closing herself in the first place; to becoming, at first unintentionally but then aware, the enigmatic she is.

Perhaps no human will be able to truly put his finger in the pain of her heart to set her free. For the Muse, as such, would cease to be.

No. She will not allow this.

A breakdown of her entire self, and the walls around and within her heart, will be necessary, and the only thing that will have any sort of true effect.

This, in turn, can only be allowed by God her Creator. And He alone can sustain this process.

It will be the finger of his Christ, who will pierce her heart and move it. But she must will this to some extent, for her mask to come off…for her not to have to be and play the Muse any longer.

This is the hope.

…Will the Muse thus cease to be? And forever cease to both suffer herself in her heart and to cause the suffering of both attraction and vain and defensive elusion to those awed by her?

When one understands this, even though he does not understand what is in her heart, or the cause of her defence, he will become more detached from the Muse and love the woman who wears the mask; nonetheless faithfully keeping his distance and being free from the frustration that comes from desiring her.”

– – –

-LMW

An Unintentional Case for the Limitedness of ‘Being Born Gay’

Did you ever think it was possible to “turn” gay? Well, Lesley from Birdman is going to offer us some insights today..

Here’s an observation I made after having watched the sensational Birdman. During one of the scenes, after the first preview of the play they’re performing (forgot the name), Riggan (the main character) offers Lesley (Mike’s, or Edward Norton’s character’s, lover) some words of consolation, since she is quite distressed and disillusioned with Mike’s near attempted rape on stage. Putting one hand on each of her shoulders, Riggan looks into Lesley’s eyes and tells her: “You’re beautiful, and I’m lucky to have you.”

Riggan’s own lover, Laura, is also right there, and she seems to be disillusioned after having heard his consolation to Lesley. Lesley asks, “What’s wrong?” And Laura basically answers, “In the two years we’ve been together, he’s never told me something like that.” Naturally, Lesley proceeds to console her. In a sweet voice, she turns toward Laura and tells her the words Riggan had just spoken to her: “Hey. You’re beautiful, and I’m lucky to have you.”

Laura’s reaction to this is interesting. She looks at Lesley, starts a faint smile, and with a feline sort of movement begins wiggling her face closer and closer to hers. Lesley is in turn somewhat surprised. Pushing her own face back, she asks Laura, “…what are you doing?” But Laura inches closer and closer, insinuating a kiss…and then goes for it: Laura kisses Lesley on the lips.

She then backs off and awaits Lesley’s reaction, with an expectant, alert expression. After a moment’s pause and a deerstruck face, Lesley pants and very desperately tells Laura, “…Do it again,” upon which the two start passionately making out.

I will offer an analysis of this scene.

We see that Lesley’s initial reaction to Laura’s advance is one of surprise and confusion, even wariness. To us viewers, these gestures offer the fully reasonable interpretation that Lesley isn’t used to advances to kissing by another woman. Let’s think about this for a minute. Many in our contemporary culture make the claim that people don’t “become” gay. Many in fact take serious offense at the proposition that individuals, or at least many of them, are not simply “born” gay and that many have indeed “become” gay or eventually participated in repeated homosexual activity because of many environmental factors–and yes, oftentimes a sensual experience with someone of the same sex.

The sexual nature of human beings is something immensely complex, on many levels. But, and I will here cite a ‘Law and Order’ episode the number or name of which I can’t recall–that is representative of many such cases–it is quite clear that human beings can indeed be sexually stimulated by someone of the same sex (in the Law and Order episode a straight young man is raped and nervously confesses to having been aroused during the act).

There is, though, an interesting distinction to consider. Some in the media and the psychological community attempt to distinguish between being homosexual and enjoying homosexual activity. I don’t know the relative merits of this distinction, and I understand that there is more involved in attraction than merely sexual attraction; but it would seem to me, and to many people appealing to common sense, that enjoying a certain form of sexual activity with the same sex is a fair indicator of attraction, which homosexuality and heterosexuality (as sexual orientations) essentially are concerned with.

Now my hunch is that the writers and producers of Birdman were not intentionally trying to make such a suggestion. What I do believe they were unintentionally communicating was a reality of our human experience, one that transcends this particular scene. Through this scene, we see that people can indeed be stimulated by individuals of the same sex and can develop romantic affections for them, even if they had not experienced these previously. In Leslie’s initial wariness about kissing Laura we see the reality of an individual’s hesitating to engage in homosexual activity but then, with the exhilaration that comes with the advance, eventually enjoying it and giving in to the passion. The fact that this advance happens during a moment of real emotional fragility–first Lesley is in distress, and then Laura is disillusioned–is also illuminating. Emotional charge and sensual stimulation/experiences in the vast majority of cases come intimately together. This shows us that the baggage individuals carry with them easily finds an outlet in sensual experiences that communicate some form of acceptance by another person, and one is more vulnerable to these experiences when in a state of emotional imbalance, dependence, or intensity.

In light of these considerations it is wise to contemplate that the question of homosexual attraction, which could eventually evolve into what is more specifically considered homosexuality, is far from being black and white. There are strong emotional and behavioral components, just to name non-strictly biochemical ones. Communicating a reality of human existence, Lesley’s experience shows us that there is indeed a developmental component to homosexual attraction and desire, one that can arise and even thrive within individuals who previously never experienced such attraction–by means of encounters like Lesley’s.

Though Birdman probably did not intend this interpretation, nonetheless the real crawls out from art, and fosters our identification with the experiences of its characters. In Birdman’s Lesley, we witness an unintentional case for the limitedness of “being born gay.”

Sincerely,

Your friendly neighborhood Lucas.

What is love? ..Baby don’t hurt me.

My friends, I come to you now with another inspiration I recently encountered. This one came to me upon seeing the Hobbit “Battle of the Five Armies” a few days ago. Again, it is something subtle, and quite irrelevant to the general plot of the movie. Ok. Get ready.

I am referring to something present in the even more fictitious romance between Tauriel and Kili (I say ‘more fictitious’ because, though obviously the whole gig is fiction, Tauriel doesn’t exist in the book, along with several other things shown in the movie).

During segments of the previous two movies of the trilogy, the romance between Tauriel and Kili is touched upon and subtly though constantly presented. Of course, we are aware of the dilemma the two characters face, namely that of cross-species love. Entangled with this is another complication–the hint that Legolas (also an unexpected appearance) may have a potential interest in Tauriel.

In the third movie, “The Battle of the Five Armies,” this ‘love’ is called into question. A few times we see Tauriel’s affection for Kili as being problematic in the eyes both of Legolas, and of his father Thranduil, king of the Woodland Realm. Now Thranduil chastises Tauriel for her defiance in leaving the realm in pursuit of the wounded dwarf after he gave explicit orders for no one to leave. In the third film, as Thranduil has had enough of all the warrior’s he’s lost in the great battle and expresses the intention to leave, Tauriel irreverently points her loaded bow at Thranduil’s face, threatening him upon his intention to leave.

Now I believe this is quite absurd. Tauriel defies her king in pursuit of a dwarf she’s fallen emotionally for (they’ve had no real interactions other than their lovey chats while Kili is behind bars), and not simply by running away, but by later threatening Thranduil’s life in the heat of her inflamed passion. Thranduil does the correct when he with lightning speed slices Tauriel’s bow in half (you simply don’t threaten a king over emotional infatuation), after which Legolas, the loyal prince, stands up for Tauriel and says that if she is to be punished then he will bear it with her. Of course, Thranduil comes to his senses.

Ok, so Thranduil is frustrated with Tauriel’s insistence on being emotionally devoted to Kili. And during one of these moment’s of tension, he basically tells her that what she is experiencing is not love, is ‘not real’, and that she should let it go. He is thus making a distinction between love and swaying emotional states, and downplaying the latter.

As viewers, many of us will be inclined to agree with Thranduil, simply given what we see in the movies. In other words, we may recognize that most of the interactions between Tauriel and Kili are melodramatic, with Kili–while being dazed and dying and having Tauriel cure him–saying things like “She is not here, she is far away, in the land of angels and pretty white lights..” (ok, so that last part is my own, but whatever he actually says pretty much amounts to the same thing). Unfortunately these interactions remind us of our juvenile naiveté, when we would dream that something like a summer love in our early adolescence was the culmination of our romantic life and desperately clung to this ‘truth’ in spite of the sober yet unwelcome words of our elders.

In any case, near the end of the film, while Tauriel mopes around poor Kili’s corpse (he is killed in battle by Bolg, Azog’s right-hand orc), she seems at odds to understand her pain. During her weeping, an unexpected Thranduil appears and notices her. She then proceeds to express her grief and pain to him. She asks the king, “Whyyy does it hurt so much??” amid sobs and sniffles. What happens next comes a bit as a surprise. To Tauriel’s pained question of why what she experiences hurts so much, Thranduil dramatically responds, “Because it was real.” Ok, here we see a somewhat sobered up Thranduil having changed his mind about his initial view, having looked down on Tauriel’s feelings as not constituting ‘real’ love. But is that all that’s at work here?

Let’s break it down a bit.

When Thranduil deems Tauriel’s state real love, on the basis of it hurting so much, he is making a judgment of the nature of these things. In other words, Thranduil is suggesting that, by virtue of its hurting, Tauriel’s state is real love. He is saying that, if it hurts, then it must be real. Now this is a statement.

If we only think about this soberly a little, we will notice that Thranduil’s judgment is not entirely correct, that it is inconclusive. In other words, Thranduil is precluding that an emotional state that indeed hurts ‘so much’ can nonetheless be something other than real love. This surely is incorrect. And it also leads us to ask what the nature of real love is and what exactly can hurt emotionally that is not real love.

How many times (I for one, have certainly experienced this) have we felt pain over having a crush that was not reciprocated? I mean, would we call a crush real love? A crush would constitute something more along the lines of an undeniable attraction, a desire. And yet an unrequited one certainly hurts.

What about being in an unhealthy relationship that easily lends itself to jealousy? One can be insecure in such a relationship, suspecting the motives and gestures of their significant other or of the friends or acquaintances they may have. Jealousy can definitely eat someone alive from the inside out, and give them the urge to control everything and suspect everything, given the slightest and everlooming chance of betrayal. Wouldn’t something like this mad jealousy certainly hurt? And universally this would most certainly not be called love.

Let’s give another example, just to drive the point of Thranduil’s inconclusive statement home. In a relationship, due to various reasons (insecurities, trauma’s, wounds, dissatisfaction with everyday life, whatever), someone may become excessively attached to the significant other. The girlfriend/boyfriend may provide a point of stability, a confidence booster, a welcome source of emotional comfort in a sad and lonely life, or a reassurance of worth and appreciation, just to name a few of the possible seeming pros of a relationship. In other words, if someone is not sure of and comfortable with their own life, it is almost guaranteed that they will become the victims of a crippling attachment to the significant other, who may provide reassurance and compensate for all these deficits. And this definitely does not exclusively happen in a single direction; it is often (and perhaps most often) the case that both parties may be unhealthily attached to one another, for these same reasons. What’s more pitiful, this sort of attachment is actually a hindrance to the relationship lasting. It may end for endless reasons: one of the parties moving somewhere else, indeed one of them could overcome their unhealthy attachment enough to actually end the relationship (noticing that, in spite of it, something is not right), jealousy could fester and suspicion thrive until the whole things is history, etc.

Now what happens when one is ripped off from this attachment? Oh me, oh my. It sure as daylight is gon’ hurt. When you build your edifice around a single person to compensate for the insecurities and dissatisfaction with your own life, you’re bound to get buuurned.

And yet, would we call such a relationship, and what may keep it temporarily together, real love? My friends, I would be inclined to disagree. A relationship of attachment is primarily one of taking. Each of the parties wants to take-take-take from one another what (they think, at least) will help make life comfortable and meaningful. But my friends, is this love? Can love be defined as the desire to take and receive from the other what will make one feel better about her/himself? And yet, the unfortunate end of such a relationship indeed hurts, and to quote Tauriel, often ‘soo much‘.

So now we may see why Thranduil’s dramatic acknowledgment of Tauriel’s emotional pain as being real (and we may assume it to mean something like real love) is, for all its serenity and comfort, simply not correct. And to qualify, perhaps there is something in the order of real love in what Tauriel experiences. That’s not necessarily what’s at stake here. It is Thranduil’s equating pain with love, and implying that, if it hurts, then this is a guarantee of it being real (and not leaving room for exceptions) that we have a problem with. As we have demonstrated, my friends, there are countless situations in which we may experience real, even intense pain that are definitely not situations in which real love, properly speaking, is at work.

So this is some food for thought, then. We will do well to be aware that, in spite of something being presented so exquisitely as Thranduil’s majestic “it was real,” it may nonetheless not be correct, or at least not completely correct. But, so long as we don’t completely eat up all that is presented to us, these statements can nonetheless make us aware that this corny romantic ‘love’ really doesn’t work the same way in the real world. So, this in mind, let us enjoy the fantasy, and leave the Tauriel-Kili love to be day-dreamed by the eager adolescents.

Sincerely yours,

LMW

Comeback kid, hopefully.

Alright my dearest bros (I address all here),

My apologies for having dropped of the face of the blogging world for a minute, more specifically a tenth-month long minute.

I have a very relevant note to make regarding this absence.

When I first started this blog, I remember boasting to my peers via social media and otherwise that I would blog forth, rain or shine, snow or blizzard or drought, producing bits of writing continually. After saying this, a friend commented how at one point he had proposed the same thing, but ultimately got swamped with college and MA work and neglected the blog. I responded to him by reinforcing my boast, basically implying something like, “yeah, I mean with you that’s fine, but I’m a different sort of breed, soo.” This was very stupid of me, as the evidence shows.

In any case, I hope I’ve learned something from this. And after this long tangent of about ten months, I hope to frequent my blog a bit more devotedly, though casually of course. What is more, I don’t see it as a duty anymore so much as an act and process of enjoyment and in some way putting thoughts out there. There is no specific trend as of now for this, but I do hope to put up interesting bits here and there.

So stay tuned if you can/want, though forgive me if I neglect again and do not have too high of expectations, as the precedent would corroborate.

Looking forward to the new initiative!

Much good will,

LW

Meeting Michael Shannon

Hello dear friends,

I apologize for the excruciating delay in posting. It seems that lucasthinks has been buried in the snow along with me. But no matter, I now come back to you guys with something I think you all will enjoy.

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So I recently encountered the Winter 2014 copy of ‘The Core’ college magazine, and was taken in by a short article in the magazine. Apparently the issue’s ‘alumni question’ is: “What famous person did you meet while you were in the College?” Well, I have a little bit of a story to tell.

I have been involved in acting throughout my life since infancy (maybe I will write on that some other time at length), and have been fortunate enough to have participated in a couple of plays with none other than UofC’s beloved (and arguably more authentic, sorry UT people) Classical Entertainment Society.

I performed in “Oedipus! The Musical!” spring of last year (2013). This was a fantastic experience, though I might go into more detail in another post.

Long story short, as I was standing outside the room where we performed one of our last runs, on the 8th floor of the Logan Center, a tall, distinguished-looking man emerged and caught my sight. I knew for the life of me that I had seen him somewhere, and then it struck me that it was somewhere in tv or film–the problem was, I could not remember exactly where and I could not recall his name!

But no matter, I was not let this opportunity escape. I immediately approached him (he was towering over me at 6′ 3″ or so), and with my characteristic chutzpah, told him, “Hey! You’re, uuh…famous!” I knew I was making a bit of an ass of myself, but he didn’t seem too disturbed, and casually responded in a deep voice, “Yeeah… I am an actor.” Ecstatic at having an unknown famous person in front of me, I quickly asked if I could have his autograph, to which he brusquely responded, “On what?” I had no paper, and just stood blank-faced realizing this. But I soon collected myself and responded, “On anything!”

As he was going into the room he was originally in, to grab a piece of paper, I realized that what better paper to have his autograph on than my program! He came out with a blank piece of paper, and I told him, “Here! On my program,” handing it to him. As he signed it, I began to tell him how I’ve been involved in acting most of my life, and how it’s been very important to me, and yada yada yada.. You know, the kind of stuff you would say to a famous actor if you’ve been involved in acting yourself. Kinda like saying, “yeah, I know how it goes, but I still admire that you know more of how it goes.”

When he finished signing it, he handed back my program with a, “Here.” I thanked him sincerely for it. I have to say, he did seem somewhat amused by me as he walked back into the room in Logan adjacent to where we performed ‘Oedipus!’

I walked back to my fellow cast-mates, who huddled around my program newly autographed by the mysterious famous person. Naturally, we couldn’t quite decipher what the autograph said. After a couple minutes, finally someone intuited that it seemed to say ‘Michael Shannon’, upon which everyone agreed that that’s who he must have been. Overjoyed at finally knowing who this famous person was, I screamed (or more like shrieked), “Oh my gosh!! It’s Michael Shannon!!”

Through the window looking into the room he was in (with his groupies), we could see the back of Michael Shannon’s head shaking.

Now since Michael Shannon is not Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep and you might not know much of who he is (I sure as heck didn’t), I will point some things out. He was the evil General Zod in the recent ‘Man of Steel’ movie, an academy award-nominated supporting actor in ‘Revolutionary Road,’ and he also acts on HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’. I met Michael (I assume we’re on a first name basis, now that I have his autograph) before ‘Man of Steel’ came out.

My now-laminated program with his autograph still hangs on a wall in my room.

I don’t usually read through ‘The Core’ magazine, but I’m happy I did this time and, along with UC’s alumns, got to share my famous person encounter at the UofC with you all. Though Michael Shannon might have been a bit annoyed by a loud, excited,  aspiring red-headed little actor, and though he shook his head after I screamed his name, I’m sure he loved the whole business nonetheless. I mean, I don’t meet a famous actor all that often, but how often do famous actors get to meet me?

-LW

MS Autograph

Walter Mitty and his Mother

Dear friends,

I come to you now to write a little bit of a thought on filial responsibility/etiquette.

A couple of weeks ago I saw ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ at the theater with my family. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It is a dynamic story that will keep you engaged throughout, is packed with profound sentiments, and tons of comic genius to offer a well balanced dose of meaning and light-spiritedness.

Ruminating on things, as I sat down at the C-Shop (UofC), I was somehow struck by my recalling of a particular scene in the movie. Here I will recount the scene and provide my thought on it, so if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know anything about it other than the general remarks I’ve provide above, then go see it, and come back to this post when you have, if you are so inclined.

Near the end of the movie, Walter has spent the past several days trying to chase the elusive photographer that Sean Penn plays (his name eludes me), in order to find the missing negative of a photo dubbed the ‘quintessence’ of his (Sean’s) career. This photo is to be used as the cover of the last printed edition of ‘Life’ magazine, due to corporate invasion threatening to take it out of print. Long story short, after Walter’s wild goose chase through several countries and adventures, but before finally encountering the elusive Sean, he expresses his disillusionment over not having found Sean to his mother. His mother then tells him, much to Walter’s surprise, that she had been visited by Sean only a few days before and had hints as to where he would be. Walter then expresses initial frustration that she did not inform him of this sooner, upon which she replies that she did, and that he must have missed it during one of the infamous spells or ‘spacing outs’ that mark his life. Surprisingly however, though being down cast, Walter accepts what his mother tells him, and does not carry a sentiment or response of aggression. Instead, he works with his mother and her hints to try to find Sean’s whereabouts.

Now, I find his response after this upset very interesting. Perhaps some of you, I myself for one, would not have been satisfied or complacent being told, by our mother, that we were, in fact, informed of the visit of the character we had been pursuing like mad, and that we were most likely experiencing our chronic space outs and had therefore missed it. Initially, I imagined how, in that situation, I would have made more of an issue of this, insisting that, if my mother knew how important meeting this guy (and finding the negative) was to me and my career, why did she not try and tell me, not once, but multiple times (precisely accounting for the possibility of my spacing out during one of these). I would have perhaps gotten frustrated, raised my voice, and not accepted my mother’s response with deference. Walter, however, simply expresses a ‘sigh’-like response. He doesn’t disrespect his mother or become angry or indignant with her. In fact, precisely because of the fact that he doesn’t fume, he is more receptive to receiving his mothers hints on where to find Sean.

I believe this offers an important insight to all of us over here. Moreover, I believe Walter’s response to the contradiction he experiences, with acceptance (though he is indeed bummed out) and without indignation or aggression, offers us a very beautiful portrait of the type of relationship we ought to have with our mothers, how to address them, how to respond to their seeming shortcomings. This applies to all of us, and especially to those with single or widowed mothers (Walter’s mom is widowed), who depend on them for so much.

I think mothers represent so much for us, both growing up and at large. Of course, we have to exercise proper filial conduct and responsibility to both our parents. Here, however, I wanted simply to address an ideal in terms of maternal relationships. Reminiscing on ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ as I chillaxed at the C-Shop (putting off Aristotle’s Physics), I was delighted by what I perceived as Walter’s beautiful response to a possible frustration toward his mother. For many of us, the greatest challenge is being more docile and exercising a relationship of deference toward that special woman who welcomed us into the world.

Sincerely yours,

Lucas

Welcome

Hello dearest friends,

As most of you know, my name is Lucas Williams, though I am a man of many names. I would like to welcome you all to my blog, lucasthinks.

Here I will be writing about a variety of things. Naturally, I will include thoughts on my own personal life and experiences, expanding on both the experiences themselves and my own intellectual and emotional relation to these experiences. I will write also about issues that are of interest to me, I find myself invested in, or am passionate about. In light of these, I will at times express opinions and theories that some or many of you will find disagreeable. My intention here is not to offend anyone, but simply to have a space wherein I can write down my thoughts and communicate them to all who may be interested.

That said, I hope that this blog will be comical as well, either with comic elements within a more generally profound subject, or with entries the subject of which is itself humorous. A combination of these may end up being the case.

So hopefully some of you will stick around and check in from time to time, to hear and maybe respond some of the thoughts and questions I intend to present to you here.

Humbly yours,

Lucas M. Williams