Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Scene From a Film

WALLY: Let's say: if I get a fortune cookie in a Chinese restaurant, I mean, of course, even I have a tendency, I mean, you know, I mean, of course, I would hardly throw it out! I mean, I read it, I read it, and I just instinctively sort of, you know, if it says something like: "Conversation with a dark-haired man will be very important for you," well, I just instinctively think, you know, who do I know who has dark hair? Did we have a conversation? What did we talk about? In other words there's something in me that makes me read it, and I instinctively interpret it as if it were an omen of the future, but in my conscious opinion, which is so fundamental to my whole view of life, I mean, I would just have to change totally to not have this opinion, in my conscious opinion, this is simply something that was written in the cookie factory, several years ago, and in no way it refers to me! I mean, you know, the fact that I got--I mean, the man who wrote it did not know anything about me, I mean, he could not have known anything about me! There's no way that this cookie could actually have to do with me! And the fact that I've gotten it is just basically a joke! And I mean, if I were to go on a trip, on an airplane, and I got a fortune cookie that said "Don't go," I mean, of course, I admit I might feel a bit nervous for about one second, but in fact I would go, because, I mean, that trip is gonna be successful or unsuccessful based on the state of the airplane and the state of the pilot, and the cookie is in no position to know about that.

And I mean, you know, it's the same with any kind of prophecy or sign or an omen, because if you believe in omens, then that means that the universe--I mean, I don't even know how to begin to describe this. That means that the future is somehow sending messages backwards to the present! Which means that the future must exist in some sense already in order to be able to send these messages. And it also means that things in the universe are there for a purpose: to give us messages. Whereas I think that things in the universe are just there. I mean, they don't mean anything. I mean, you know, if the turtle's egg falls out of the tree and splashes on the paving stones, it's just because that turtle was clumsy, by accident. And to decide whether to send my ships off to war on the basis of that seems a big mistake to me.

ANDRE: Well, what information would you send your ships to war on? Because if it's all meaningless, what's the difference whether you accept the fortune cookie or the statistics of the Ford foundation? It doesn't seem to matter.

WALLY: Well, the meaningless fact of the fortune cookie or the turtle's egg can't possibly have any relevance to the subject you're analyzing. Whereas a group of meaningless facts that are collected and interpreted in a scientific way may quite possibly be relevant. Because the wonderful thing about scientific theories about things is that they're based on experiments that can be repeated! [Long pause while coffee is being served.]

ANDRE: Well, it's true, Wally. I mean, you know, following omens and so on is probably just a way of letting ourselves off the hook, so that we don't have to take individual responsibility for our own actions. I mean, giving yourself over to the unconscious can leave you vulnerable to all sorts of very frightening manipulation...

But I mean, the thing is, Wally, I think it's the exaggerated worship of science that has led us into this situation. I mean, science has been held up to us as a magical force that would somehow solve everything, but quite the contrary, it's done quite the contrary, it's destroyed everything. So, that is what has really led, I think, to this very strong, deep reaction against science that we're seeing now. Just as the Nazi demons that were released in the thirties in Germany were probably a reaction against a certain oppressive kind of knowledge and culture and rational thinking. So, I agree that we're talking about something potentially very dangerous, but modern science has not been particularly less dangerous.

WALLY: Right. Well, I agree with you, I completely agree. [Pause.] You know, the truth is, I think I do know what really disturbs me about the work you've described, and I don't even know if I can express it. But somehow it seems that the whole point of the work that you did in those workshops, when you get right down to it and you ask: what was it really about; the whole point really, I think, was to enable the people in the workshops, including yourself, to somehow sort of strip away every scrap of purposefulness from certain selected moments. And the point of it was so that you would then all be able to experience somehow just pure being. In other words you were trying to discover what it would be like to live for certain moments without having any particular thing that you were supposed to be doing. And I think I just simply object to that. I mean, I just don't think I accept the idea that there should be moments in which you're not trying to do anything! I think it's our nature to do things, I think we should do things, I think that purposefulness is part of our ineradicable, basic human structure, and to say that we ought to be able to live without it is like saying that a tree ought to be able to live without branches or roots, but actually, without branches or roots it wouldn't be a tree. I mean, it would just be a log. You see what I'm saying?


CRL said...

This being a Chinese restaurant, their waiter will be dark haired. I predict Wally's "very important" conversation will come soon!

I may put a serious comment on this later.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Someone named Laughing Boy should have posted this instead:
Man in Black: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.

Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

I haven't seen My Dinner with Andre in around 8-10 years, but I recognized it immediately. Great movie! I just added it to my Netflix queue so I can watch it again.

CyberKitten said...

LB - I'm *pretty* sure you're trying to make a point there..... I'm just wondering what it was.....