A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Monday, 11 April 2016

Terrence Malick 2016: From "To the Wonder" to the Wonder Itself, or, "The Knight of Cups"

Culture is indeed coming to this North American town: the new Terrence Malick is out and will be soon screened in London ON. Very patiently looking forward to it. I might go every evening I can and call it an Ontario festival of culture.

PS: The director refuses to give interviews. What is available to us is the work, as it should be. How nice it would be to chat with him not about his films, if he does not wish, but about Ryle and Wittgenstein and Heidegger. No pens or notes, nor recording devices but attentive perception.

(After the film, the first viewing
How can one write about the possibility of a new beginning in philosophy? How many philosophers have attempted to do so and what does it mean that someone succeeds in doing so? 
How can someone film a new beginning in one's life, a transition from one world to another? How should one narrate the time that has passed, and from which perspective, the one before or the one after the transition? By letting the time evolve as it did before the new beginning; and by reconstructing the chain, and the fated sequence of events as necessitating what followed? No. Malick narrates an entire dream sequence. We do not know from which perspective the dreamer narrates. And we will not find out at the end of the film which the new world is. What we have access to is the dreamer's praying and inner dialogue with God throughout his past life, the life before the new beginning. Admittedly this is too much for the elevated taste of many of us, some friends of mine are in haste to point out to me. No comment on this. Plato and Nietzsche are cited, and the new beginning evolves freely and not as necessitated. We will watch again and again this film and wait patiently for anything Malick wishes to offer us as a present, at any time he chooses to be the right time, holding our breath, when watching, so as to listen to the words and whispers. Of course, there will always be the ones who will complain that the actor was wearing Armani at the seashore, or that Malick is preaching...I really do not care. No need for chats, just works and gems.
Fragments, pieces of the film, after the second viewing
"Dear friend, I wonder where I was at that time."
"Dreams are nice, but you can't live them."
"So much I was given, so much I have behind."
"You can start over."
"Where will I meet you?"
"I loved my brother then."
"I died a different way."
I turned you upside down, my son."
"Fragments, pieces of a man.")

No PS: On another note, my debating class blew me away this term. I hear that the level of the students deteriorates, a judgment which I was not able to make compatible with what I experienced in this class. Was I extremely lucky then? There was not just a couple but really a good number of critically thinking young people, mostly very young people, very interesting and very interested at the same time. I was surprised to see how we could build on their philosophical debates, in contrast to political debates. After the first classes, a student of economics came to me, frustrated by what we were doing, especially after reading the confusing Lysis. And then he started explaining what we were doing, and I told him this is exactly the case and what should keep on being the case. More students of economics came to the office hours. They were the most perplexed, and also, interestingly, the most intrigued by our questioning our principles, utilitarianism, among others. 

As I was pondering, before the beginning of the course, which I should choose among our philosophical texts in order to formulate our debates, and was considering Marcuse's One-dimensional Man, I decided not to include it in the material, because this would bring us too far on the path of critical thinking. So I thought.
What happens in the last session as we were trying to ask the right questions with regard to the similarities between the film Matrix I and our situation (we had started the course by trying to ask the relevant questions about Plato's Cave)?! A lady raises her hand and formulates Marcuse's critique of mass culture, which I had been thinking to draw upon for our course!! We must become able to learn from this youth. When we raise high expectations, it shows us that they were not high enough.


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