Film Exam Questions: Week 2 (78654)

This assignment asked for a response to three questions tied to a set of short films viewed in class.

The Films

Question 1:

Drawing from your own life, describe experiences (religious or otherwise) where you intertwined what happened with a specific explanation or religious interpretation. You can tell it in story form if you wish.

Hm. This is a bit tricky for me. Isn't it awfully rare that human beings have an experience which we do not intertwine with a specific explanation? I don't imagine this question intends a response describing how I've interpreted the falling of leaves from a tree as the result of gravity. If I understand the proper intention of the question then as asking about specific philosophical/metaphysical explanations to which I have tethered experiences, this is not something I am very prone to, as I am a very skeptical person with an inclination to view my interpretation of experiences in terms of multiple possibilities ranked by likelihood in the context of presently available information. Even back when I was traditionally religious, I don't much recall myself doing this (I was raised Catholic, but not very devout).

Ah, here's one! Late one night, when I was much too young to be doing such things, probably somewhen during my faith-crisis back-and-forth period of violently jerking between my devout self-invented neo-Catholicism and arrogant self-centered New Atheist scientism, I was browsing pornography on the computer in the basement of my childhood home. At this point I still had some level of conflict over whether I should be looking at such things but I did it anyway because I couldn't resist those pubescent hormonal impulses. Suddenly a HUGE, VERY LOUD lightning CRRRACKK shattered my reverie and knocked out the power leaving me in a pitch black basement, terrified, heart pounding. I ran the hell out of the basement and promised God I would never look at porn again (that didn't last long); of course the reason that had happened was to punish me for my sexual sin.

Looking back, perhaps the lightning event and blackout rightly did serve as an impetus to stop my bad habit back then, though they had little chance of success in the context of simplistic Catholic “sex=bad” doctrine rather than the more nuanced neurological, spiritual, feminist anti-porn perspective I've achieved since.

Question 2:

Since the brain can deceive us at many turns, can you recall incidents from your life where you confused an image for something it was not? Explain why this happened.

Another question to which my response might be “When haven't I?” I confuse images for things they are not several times a day. I'm not even totally convinced there is such a thing as “seeing things as they really are.” But to provide some specific examples, for one, when I was young, around ages 5-7, I truly believed that stage magicians had real supernatural abilities. That was actually one of my first career aspirations, to be a magician, because what could be better than being able to do impossible things? Little did I know I would one day grow to be a magician in another sense.

I also regularly mistake strangers out in public for friends and acquaintances, even some of whom I haven't seen in ages. I've even made something of a game of this with friends, where we will whisper to one another, “Is that (so-and-so)?” while nodding in the direction of the familiar stranger, usually to the effect of humor.

To provide a very specific example, today, in Disney's California Adventure with my family, who is visiting this weekend from New York, as we were nearing the front of the line for the Cars ride (Radiator Springs Racers), the ride broke down. We were waiting, now at a total standstill in a line where some had stood for over two hours (we opted for the twenty-minute single riders line instead), for the ride to be fixed and start up again, when through the mass of fellow line-waiters ahead of us I saw one of the ride vehicles, a bright red one, finally move forward on the track. The ride had been repaired and was ready to run again! Oh wait, actually that wasn't a car I saw, it was one of the ride attendants in hir bright red uniform. The ride was still stuck; in fact it remained so for another 20 minutes before it was announced the delay was now “indefinite,” at which point we left.

Question 3:

Drawing from your own life (and connecting to Freud's notion of projection), which objects or persons have you given extraordinary value or power to, particularly when others may not have felt the same. Feel free to recall this in story form.

One example of an object to which I have given extraordinary value was my favorite childhood stuffed animal, a grey beanie-baby-style stuffed rabbit called Bunny Bones. To others he may have been just a stuffed rag but to me he was my essential bedtime companion. An example perhaps more closely tied into the topic of this class would be my necklaces, crystals and charms, each of which hold a specific spiritual meaning, either in their traditional symbolism or in associations I have given them based on my own subjective perception. I will wear or carry different ones or combinations thereof depending on the type of mindset I believe I need to tap into on a given day; for example, my dragon necklace symbolizes willpower, focused energy, and other characteristics of the classical fire element, while my little toy monkey symbolizes rationality, logic, and other characteristics of the classical air element.

Because I believe in these meanings (though I don't necessarily believe they are essential to the images themselves, but rather that they represent an emergent property of the interface between the images and my particular configuration of mental associations and preconceptions [as informed by my culture, historical position, etc]) these inanimate objects attain a power to alter my perception and behavior on a daily basis. In terms of the Freudian notion of projection, I have projected various aspects of my unconscious mind (in Jungian terms, archetypes) out onto these physical objects and so made them holders or activators of these aspects.

Others, especially the more hardened scientific materialist types, would say I'm engaging in superstitious rubbish and that these associations I have made with these objects are meaningless, yet they can have a real and significant effect on the way I view and act in the world, and act as tools for me to make a conscious choice regarding these at the start of each day. I would also ask these sorts of people why, if it is silly for me to spread my mind out into a variety of inanimate objects I keep in my home and carry with me, is it less silly for them to attach theirs so firmly to their physical brain (a choice which confers no such utilitarian benefits of switching on and off different personality structures in excessive pursuit of dogmatic mental-model-faithfulness to the objective reality revealed by science-- which still contains no hard evidence for the existence of consciousness within the brain)?.

To get real trippy, it would also be accurate to say I have given extraordinary value to my own physical body, which others certainly do not, at least not to such a great degree.