Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Opportunity to be Patient

Enjoy this video clip from the movie, Evan Almighty, where the waiter, Al Mighty, played by Morgan Freeman, explains prayer as, 'God providing opportunities'. What are we going to do with the opportunities in our life?

·         Joan: Excuse me. Can I get a refill please? 


·         God: Coming right up. 


·         Joan: Thank you. 


·         God: Excuse me. Are you alright? 


·         Joan: Yeah. (God looks at her unconvinced.) No. It’s a long story. 


·         God: Well, I like stories. I’m considered a bit of a storyteller myself. 


·         Joan: My husband… Have you heard of New York’s Noah? 


·         God: (Chuckling) The guy who’s building the ark. 


·         Joan: That’s him. 


·         God: I love that story, Noah and the Ark. You know, a lot of people miss the point of that story. They think it’s about God’s wrath and anger. They love it when God gets angry. 


·         Joan: What is the story about, then? The ark? 


·         God: Well, I think it’s a love story about believing in each other. You know, the animals showed up in pairs. They stood by each other, side by side, just like Noah and his family. Everybody entered the ark side by side. 


·         Joan: But my husband says God told him to do it. What do you do with that? 


·         God: Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other? Well, I got to run, a lot of people to serve. Enjoy. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Neighours (1952) - A Film by Norman McLaren


Erik Buys writes in his blog, Mimetic Margins:

In 1952, Scottish-born Canadian film director and animator Norman McLaren (1914-1987) released his hugely acclaimed short film Neighbours. It won both a Canadian Film Award and an Academy Award, and has been designated as a ‘masterwork’ by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. Moreover, in 2009, the film was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Neighbours is a revolutionary piece of art, both in content and in style. McLaren is a master in using the so-called pixilation, an animation technique which treats live actors as stop-motion objects. As for the content, Neighbours can be considered an anti-war statement. 

Asked about the inspiration for his film, McLaren answered: I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao’s revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. My sympathies were divided at that time. I felt myself to be as close to the Chinese people as I felt proud of my status as a Canadian. I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war.”

The film clearly demonstrates the mimetic origin of rivalry and its escalation into violence. Two neighbours, living together peacefully and enjoying shared interests, become each other’s rivals once they both lay claim on a flower. The film plainly depicts they not only pay attention to this object, but also that they increasingly keep an eye on each other until, finally, the attention for the object completely disappears. As they imitate each other’s claims and try to manifest themselves over against one another, the object is even destroyed during the process.

Neighbours not only ironically reveals that one’s desire for prestige, pride and power is actually based on nothing (but an imitation of another’s desire), but it also shows the tragic and horrifying, shocking outcome of escalated mimetic rivalry. The former friends are tricked into becoming each other’s monstrous doubles. The Latin word praestigia means deception or illusion and it indeed points to the misleading nature of mimetic desire.