I’ve been putting in some extra work at college. This involves not being aware of certain assignments, and paying abysmal attention to others; while reading essays and watching documentaries on Nietzche, Camus and Sartre. Especially since I wrote that bit about Seinfeld and Louis C.K. I’ve been reading up on existentialism and absurdism. However, as can be seen from the title, I will not be talking about them. I will instead be talking about Star Trek and Woody Allen and other stuff like that. As the perceptive and intelligent denizens of the internet that you are, its still about philosophy and sex and love.
Interestingly, philo is derived from phile which means love (as in anglophile, bibliophile, pedophile, cinephile, only two of which define me) and sophy means knowledge, as anyone with a good memory of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code will tell you. The point being, philosophers are lovers. *Cue Porn Music* (Except Nietzche – he probably died a half virgin.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong. Seriously.) So falling in love even though you’re a smart person shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well, here goes.
I recently watched Ship of Theseus and liked it immensely. The first story is… not my cup of tea, though the cinematography is beautiful. It was too mundane yet melodramatic a context in which to explore the theme of what constitutes personhood. It gave me a sense of tiresome déjà vu. However, the rest of it was thoroughly stimulating. I had hoped that by making a philosophical movie they wouldn’t ignore what I consider to be a very important aspect of philosophy, and perhaps especially so of existentialism, in a manner of speaking – the importance of human connection and dependability; and they were good with that, for the most part.
But here’s my problem – I don’t like it when art is made solely for those who will understand it. I don’t like it when philosophy is… philosophized only for those who understand and care about it, especially in art. I’m not saying everyone who’s not me is a plebeian, I’m saying my mother fell asleep while watching it, and a lot of my friends got irritated and left.
I on the other hand, went to the Kiran Nadar museum (The Zones of Contact exhibition) recently and I felt a lot like my mother and my friends did in the movie. The arts students kept telling me that it was fine if I didn’t understand something, and it only mattered if I felt anything when I saw a piece and all that rot. But here’s the thing – some people take modern art appreciation courses, read up a lot about the artists, and clearly understood and felt more things than I did.And these are the people who are likely to feel encouraged to go to other museums with modern art installations. Call me a romantic but the reason I like movies more than any other art is because if it talks down to anyone, it’s usually talking down to everyone.
In a far more satisfying experience, I watched the 2009 Star Trek recently. And then I watched Into Darkness, because Spock Kirk Uhura Benedict Cumberbatch, followed closely by a re-watching of The Original Series.
I watched the Original Series for the first time a year or two ago. I had heard that Star Trek is more philosophical and complicated that Star Wars, and had prepared myself for getting bored beyond the deaths of relatives I never knew existed. I had forgotten that philosophy comes in many forms, and especially forgotten that it also came in the form of campy yet entertaining sci-fi. Did watching the original Doctor Who teach me nothing? Philosophy in Star Trek consisted of in your face evaluation of the human condition, set in a future that somehow did not have personal computers. And not in the shitty way that “human condition” makes it sound. My favorite part is Spock, everywhere. Because I think I have given enough proof of my unwillingness to consider feelings (whether mine or other’s) unless they result in something productive and useful; and especially if they result in something stupid and wasteful.
Fandom is a curious thing, and I’m not talking about run of the mill fans of actors or movies. Saying you’re a fan, an actual true to Satan fan, of something or someone doesn’t mean you form closed groups of people who are also fans and illogically and irrationally defend every single thing that the actor or the film or the franchise does. In the context of shows and movies, it doesn’t mean getting angry if someone doesn’t like it.
What it means is that you pay minute attention to detail while watching, your enthusiasm for it is entirely unmitigated, you catalogue practically everything you know about it (mentally or literally), and analyze the good and the bad, giving due consideration to every articulated opinion. And despite acknowledged failings, you still love the thing. Because you know every detail of it and the pile of good things in it is greater than the pile of bad things (watch Vincent and The Doctor to get that reference, n00bs), you will explain every single position, everything you like and dislike, and still come out being in love.
For instance, I have read every single one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, know practically every single opinion that characters in the series have of Sherlock, know every single way in which Holmes was pulling something out of his cultural stereotype bucket when he gave his deductions, and while I may not have watched every single TV series or movie based on the stories, I have watched a lot of them and I love Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman despite the fact that the latter makes me feel really old (because he was once a cute guy on a cute show that I watched once as a kid).
Did such a perfect love ever exist outside of the realm of the imaginary?
There are many themes and areas of human existence and the human condition that philosophy looks at, and I usually don’t give two shits. What I feel is a great disservice in any philosophical reading, is in not paying much importance to the presence and the importance of other individuals – the other person, the role model, the acquaintance, the people one doesn’t like, the friend.There may be some things that human beings undertake in utter solitude and some other things we do while participating in orgies, but by and large, we conduct it trying to impress and screw over each other in the most beautiful of defecatious ways. I made a new word.
So if philosophy is trying to understand the human condition, and is at all concerned with the human condition, isn’t conversation and lying and crying and fucking and kissing and holding hands and keeping a space between where your hand ends its wave trajectory and where someone else’s penis may happen to begin, all incredibly part of the business of knowing oneself? So how is that less meaningful? The most insight I have ever gotten into myself and other people is by watching Woody Allen movies, Ingmar Bergman’s comedies (do they qualify as comedies? I find them funny, but the things I find funny are often not funny or acceptable) and hearing Louis C.K. speak. Not all of them are hopeful or happy or based entirely on fart jokes, but they are all mostly about human interactions.
If I want, I can read up on what existentialism says about interconnectivity, or about surrealism, and get a deeper understanding of Stranger than Fiction or Amelie; but its equally possible for me to not read up on anything, enjoy the film and get some perspective on life because of it. In fact, I may feel like I want to know more because it was entertaining and beautiful to watch, and read up on it afterwards just for funsies.That is what art should be – just talking, comprehensibly. Like Before Sunrise. You don’t need to know anything in order to watch that movie. But you may still come out feeling like something awesome just happened to your life.
This, as opposed to feel as though I should read and know more so that it becomes entertaining and beautiful to watch. I don’t buy the nonsense of art for art’s sake. If it was for art’s sake, you’re ignoring the fact that everyone else is looking at it after you put it up on a wall precisely so everyone else may look at it. If it was art for art’s sake, you should have burnt up your work, you should have pissed off every person you met who may have helped or understood based on random crap, much like Poe. But nobody wants to be Poe. If you really wanted to be Poe, nobody would know you existed, as opposed to a thousand people in the intellectual world.
Just face it – your life is based more on other people no matter how much you want it to be completely yours. And your pearls of wisdom are going to be nuggets of crap that doesn’t matter to most of the people around you unless you explain yourself in a manner that makes a busy person want to take time out to listen. Anurag Kashyap – He’s good at that. So is Aamir Khan to a certain extent.
So I guess what I’m saying is, and this is the embarrassing confession in lieu of missing last week’s post – I keep trying to stop reading erotic Fanfiction, but it’s a lost cause. And not only do I read it, I write it. And may I add, from the reviews I have received, if ever I want a career in writing for Penthouse or Playboy (do they have an erotic literature section?) or Ellora’s Cave or something, it wouldn’t be a problem. At all.
That’s all, folks.
P.S. – this is my phone wallpaper right now.