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Lost in thought

Submitted by Jakob on 7 July, 2007 - 00:36.My Blog | Movies & Film | Philosophy | Psychology
I watched Lost in Translation tonight with my younger brother. It wasn't the first time. It was more like the third, and well, just like millions of people I still like it as much as I did the first time I saw it.

It was the first time he saw it and as usual with films that talk less and say more, we probably watched two entirely different pieces of motion picture.

It being a highly successful and commercial film doesn't take away from the fact that it somehow captures something that is intangible yet so rooted in life and so real.

** Damn, I hate flies, imagine trying to bring thoughts into words, not to mention words that aren't yours from birth, while flies are using you as a landing strip... focus! **

Life teaches us many lessons, or bringing it down to a more personal and subjective, and less generalizing teaching/preaching way of saying it, I think life has taught me a couple of things.

Appreciate the moment.

The ability of letting go.

Everything relies on its own context.

Trying to bring some sense into this, and stop moderating myself so much, I must say this film is like a bubble. It's not without faults, it's not incredibly deep (I think people read more into things than were intended, or rather, many deep things are hollow and for us to fill with the depths of our own thoughts) ... it's just accurate - to me. All the imperfections of life are there, in their embarrassing detail, all awkward moments, all conversations that for whatever reason, maybe just the fear of actually saying what we want to say - leave the impression that the conversation is not for itself, or for any verbal sharing of facets of reality, but for keeping that someone in your presence a while longer. Perhaps wondering whether that thought, or feeling you may have, was ever transferred or just lost in translation.

Yes, that sounded cheap, and simple. But let me explain.

I believe that human beings have a need to reach each other intimately and I am not just talking about sex and being physically intimate - no, we need to be understood. We long to be part of a whole where the frictions of social interaction are gone, or minimized. George R R Martin once wrote a science-fiction short story called A Song for Lya - I think it's not just deep for the sake of deepness, it is actually onto something that might be true. The book circles around two person who are extremely intimate and a religion whose practitioners eventually merge their minds.

The whole purpose of many people's desires and lives may be the attempt to fuse consciousness, to use a crude scientific expression. Being an agnostic, or non-theist, a pragmatic and romantic, someone with a strong belief in the individual's dependence on the collective, I couldn't care less for organized religion, but I tend to share many of its values anyway.

So as you've realized, I am not at all writing about Sofia Coppola's film. No, I'm rather just freely associating, looking for rings on the surface of water to see how they intersect.

As for Lost in Translation, what I see in that movie is a moment, or a series of them, like an episode in the lives of the two protagonists - a few loose moments perceived as a whole. In that frame of time and space, there's a mood, an atmosphere and within its own universe preconceptions are re-examined, and we derail violently off the railroad tracks of the conventions of our lives. There's nothing innately awesome about this, but I cannot but admire how well the details, the separate scenes and events form the whole, on which the emotional grasp of the movie rests.

Metaphors are hard, so I'll try to avoid, instead trying to make a point out of this. The point is that many things in our lives happen within an episode. There's actually something called episodic memory that lets us perceive events casually, yet further, we often think of times of our lives as directly and thematically interconnected. I do this all the time. I can break down my own personal experiences in swaths with feelings and moods defined by smells, places and especially music.

Expanding on the concept of that frame, that episode, it has its own context and choices made within that context will only make sense there and only there. This isn't just rambling, look up hermeneutics if you want to see an actual application of this stuff.

Time passes, without regret and without ever wondering "what if", and so we must go with it. Trains of thoughts and dreams will always follow their own tracks taking a long turn into the fairy woods while the train of reality takes us through the industrial complex at 6.30 in the morning on our way to work.

Blissful acceptance is something the simple answer, and just like Bob and Charlotte turn never to see each other again they can do so without ever wondering "what if", the greatness of something is often a result of its magnitude in reverse. Things left unspoken, left undone, will often affect us more than things we actually decided to do.

Maybe it is in fact better to dream than taking the plunge and learning the lesson. Scars aren't always good reminders, they are more than memories, they may even turn an agile sense of imagination into something leathery, hard and unforgiving.

To reiterate a previous point, films are often hollow, containers for our thoughts, and Lost in Translation may just be something people like me like to fill with all sorts of random stuff. To some, this film is trite and overrated, to others it is the best they have ever seen, despite the awkwardness of some parts of it which unfortunately is more than just acting.

The core of it all may be that certain narrative formats, or stories, act as platforms for our own self-analysis, self-realization and perception of reality. Wherever you may find your stepping stones to bringing meaning to chaos, take notice of them and never be ashamed of them. Eventually, as we fill our minds with perceptions and experience, we find new vessels for thoughts, replacing old ones. I believe the more vessels we use, the better we are not just at understanding ourselves, but at understanding others by being able to see the significance others place in certain ideas, concepts and experiences.

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