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posted on 11.16.10

a time for laughing...a time for crying...a time for following rules...and a time for resistance - King Solomon, Revised

i grabbed a coffee, sat down, got relaxed and put in the movie valentine's day. i am sucker for a good romantic comedy. but this post isn't a movie review. it's about a scene in the movie that alludes to the apparent inconsistencies within society that almost seem to do more damage than good. bradley cooper is one of the characters in this Crash like plot where eventually everyone's story intertwines. a great sentiment for a movie; the empowering realization of connection.

his character is gay. but we don't know that till the end of the movie. there's a scene (and i am sure it's done on purpose) where he is talking with julia roberts on a plane and we're left to assume that they might end up together until we reach the end of the film. in the discussion between the characters played by julia roberts and bradley cooper he (the gay man) assumes she is heading home to visit as he deems it 'a very special man' - again, the assumption tends to be that she is married and going to visit her husband. but when we come to the end of the film she is visiting her son who lives with her parents while she is away on some foreign soil. this movie over all is the typical hollywood kitsch. but want i want to deal with is how the gay character ends supporting the very system that condemns him.

what we don't get in the movie is the possible conversation between the two while the rest of the plot was happening. so, these inadequacies are lack within and of themselves. but lack is where we find truth. for years and years, the social stereotype was when a boy grew up that he would marry and get a job and care for his family. this was not just the stereotype, but the expectation. if anyone strayed from this it was equated to social treason and for the most part was swept under the rug to give the illusion of a fragmented society held together. and society a systematic body of rules, expectations and laws seems to be failing its stereotypes. and this is a good thing.

for me, this is the non-apocalyptic end of the world, when society collapses inward and has to reinvent itself toward a better world. i don't mean the presumptious idea of the sun falling into the sea, what i do mean is that our horizons will be re-invented. i think hollywood is beginning to show us the cracks and fault lines within a society imprisoned by social hierarchy. and so in this movie valentine's day, we have a gay man supporting the very system that condemns him. which i am sure was a director mistake, but nonetheless points us to a place of social catharsis.

or how about a person who publicly professes they believe in change and behind closed doors continues to support the obscene acts they despise, not because they want to, but becase to them that is all there is. or the person who decides not to go to church and then goes and starts another version of a church without calling it church. or a cigarette smoker who votes against public smoking. or a person who condemns capitalism and shops at the very store that is known by its capitalistic rhetoric.

in philosophy, this is called a fallacy of ambiguity or accent. which is: "An informal fallacy that arises from the ambiguity produced by a shift of emphasis in spoken or written language." an example would be the following: "Joan said that she never wants to see another Demi Moore movie, so we won't show her another one; we'll just play this same one over and over again."

notice the word another, it implies that there could be the possibility that one day in the future Joan might watch 'another' Demi Moore movie. this space of ambiguity informs us that we are not sure of our position. if someone can make a decision, the assumption is either they know what they want or they know what society wants them to want enough for them to make a move. a fallacy of ambiguity means we exist in a space of limbo. we are in between what we might truly want and what society wants us to want. this is much like what the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan once posited: "desire is the desire of the Other".

we want what someone else has, even though in reality their desire of their object begin in the same place as our desire. they once wanted what someone else had. this is similar to the bradley cooper's character in the movie. he assumes that julia roberts character is heterosexual because he wants the same fantastical prestige of being fully accepted as a viable member in society. he wants what she has without giving up who he is. this is the struggle of what it means 'to be'. to discover who we are and maintain that in a society that says otherwise is the most peverse of situations.


jesus, at one point, says he is bring a sword rather than peace. a quick primer on ancient symbols. the sword to a jew was a symbol for rome. rome was the hollywood of their day, as much as they wanted to be their own country with their own voice, they too looked to rome for their socia cues, most of the time because they had to stay alive. and so rome was the illusion of the accepted social order.

jesus says he comes to bring a sword to that. a new kind of social order. and his peace is going to disrupt everything. his peace is resistance. resistance against the social order. to tell people that you have come to bring brothers against sisters, mothers against fathers and dissolve families (even if he was just being metaphorical!) in a society where communities tended to be defined by familial connections isnt a way to get you votes for the presidency.

the supposed end of the world finds itself in a conundrum. because in the hope that something better might come we need humanity to be present. and if the world ends and there is a great schism and some go here and others go there. there's not going to be much of a world left. for the end of the world to occur we must participate in the mutual creation of another better one.

out of ancient indian philosophy came the idea of what is called weltgeist. the world spirit. its a big idea. its this objective point that humanity could work towards. a 'heaven' on earth. paradise restored. shangri-la. a place where we all believe and are capable of creating out of our god-given talents a better world. another name for the weltgeist, in some christian circles is the holy spirit. this global ecumenical spirit or way of living towards one another that taps into something deeper that is already true about all of us.

we live in a world of competition. religions. capitalism. beliefs. we're competitive beings. and i think its time we as humanity become competitive against competition. against the perversion of religion. against capitalism. against belief-ism. it starts with resistance. with the defiant hope that the world we live in could  be a lot better. and that we need each other. a time for resistance is about us getting the world we were meant to live back. to return. to remember. to experience social vertigo. to go beyond what is and boldly proclaim the what could be.

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