Saturday, September 29, 2012

Opposites Distract

Two documentaries that I saw yesterday were so diametrically opposed I'm still reeling. One was Why We Fight and the other called I Am by Hollywood director Tom Shadyac. Both are well worth seeing. In the second there was a 30 second clip of the Dalai Lama who answered, when asked "What can an individual do to make the world better?" gave an answer that may surprise many. He said, "Think critically and then make up your mind." That is the best advice in balancing these movies and their messages. Why We Fight, frequently references Eisenhower's farewell speech as President warning against the dangers of the military-industrial complex and saying essentially, woe to the USA if future Presidents know less about the hell of war than he knew. Indeed every President since has known far less than he knew. The film added two other factors to watch, Congress where votes depend on bringing jobs to each Congressman's district, and the think tanks which influence policy far beyond what seems possible. The film showed dreadful pictures from Iraq, it set my hair aflame with quotes from Bush (II) and Cheney. I felt a tightness in my chest during the entire viewing. During the discussion after several people voice general disillusionment with elected officials, past and those currently running, a few said they thought aggression and greed are a part of the DNA of people and animals. I Am was made by Tom Shadyac after he had great success as a director of comedies, made a lot of money, lived the rich-and-famous lifestyle, but had a serious concussion after a biking accident, became suicidally depressed and began asking what is wrong with the world, what can be done about it, what is good about the world? In the course of a somewhat too long movie, he explored the cooperativeness animal behavior, belying the "red in tooth and nail" and said, which I didn't know, that in popularizing Darwin, Huxley left out Darwin's emphasis of love and cooperation in the animal world. Various experiments showed animals making group (democratic) decisions -- which I sometimes witness from where I'm sitting when the lawn if full of geese. (One does not make a decision, a certain restlessness is apparent, looking around, occasional honking, and then they lift off almost as one.) Two very impressive bits which I think need a little more exploration (critical thinking): one was random numbers generators set up in many cities in the world, continuously generating millions of random numbers all stopped the randomness on two occasions and generated the same pattern of 1s and 0s: on 9/11 and when the tsunami hit Japan. This suggests a worldwide energy change of some sort they said. Another piece of interesting data dealt with cardiograms. We've all see the peaks when the heart beats and the flatter lines between. If the flatter lines are enlarged we see they contain mini peaks and valleys. When the person is happy or at peace those mini peaks have rounded tops, but when the person is anxious or angry they become jagged. This struck me last night when watching that movies because I had felt earlier in the day watching the other a sensation in my chest that I nearly always feel when watching images about war or violence. There was much else in both movies, the second showed various ways all things in the world are connected (that famous butterfly flapping its wings in central China...) Of course the second had messages I want to believe. And I very much DO believe the messages in the first movie. The second movie, in opposition to the discusants of the first film, said that cooperation and caring are a part of all DNA, from worms to humans, extending to trees and bacteria. I would recommend watching both these movies, possibly within the same week -- not necessarily the same day. Then take the Dalai Lama's advice: think about both critically, maybe do some research about the claims made by I AM. Shadyac changed his lifestyle and changed the answer to his first question: What's wrong with the world? and he answered "I am", to asking the question: What's right with the world? and finally he could answer "I am".

4 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- very interesting info. Your comments about violence were especially good. I found this passage about heart beats intriguing, "When the person is happy or at peace those mini peaks have rounded tops, but when the person is anxious or angry they become jagged. I cannot handle violent movies or violent news. I know its out there but now I see that it does change your body temporarily.

June Calender said...

You've probably felt a similar sensation that I feel, Barbara. I suspect many people do. It leaves a lot to think about in terms of people who get a thrill from violent movies.

zippiknits said...

What is going on in this world at present-and what's got us here- absolutely affects my heart. I'm under orders to leave it all alone.

Great reviews. Thank you.

Le Papillon Vert said...

You are a truly interesting and reflective person. I have seen you on Swap-bot for several years and I thought I'd read your blog. I enjoyed reading your opinions of these two films. I will attempt to see one or both of them. The New England cost holds many travel memories for me. I always enjoyed visiting it. I grew up in Huntington, NY on Long island and Hyannis is a beautiful area.