Logan and simultaneous narratives

Was just watching LOGAN last night with the family, and it was pretty good. Very gory, but there were some moments in the movie where I thought the script was good and the timing of the unfurling events were so tight that it was mind boggling.

And I had just read the introduction of The Enchantment of Modern Life by Jane Bennett for SIFA, and it spoke of Enchantment in a way that really resonated with me.

I think its basically been something I’ve been trying to do since… London?

When I wasn’t busy any more and when I had to fill my time up with reading, writing, watching. Until even social media became utterly boring.

Then I had to find a way to keep fascinated, to keep engaged with the world around me, even if it wasn’t with other humans. So if I couldn’t change the amount of input that I got, I had to change the way I thought/viewed the world around me.

This world of disenchantment… so many hateful people, terrible events; each day you realise that human nature is even more disgusting than before.

How does one stay aware but not lose all hope?

So this theory of enchantment. Of being aware of the tiny tiny details that you never thought to take notice of. Of being aware that while you are living out your narrative, there are a million, billion other simultaneous narratives happening. And these other narratives might even cross paths with yours, some more obviously, some less so.

Side stories, mini-stories; what if the mountain in your story was someone else’s molehill?

That would change your perspective no?

It would change your feelings about it. Perhaps.

These acts fall into the shadow of your rushing, indignant body. You note them—they are within the purview of your experience—but you pass them by. But if you were to gather up these dark, discarded scraps and peer into them, you would be on a different path, the path of a Kafkan tale.

We are always both participant and observer in this multiverse of stories. We watch ourselves from the inside, we look at ourselves through videos and mirrors, we watch others in reality and in the virtual world, we pretend we aren’t watching others, we keep our eyes lowered in front of strangers.

When Charles was dying, Laura was screaming her head off 50 metres away in adamantine cuffs, X24 was killing innocent (this is debatable) mortals, Dr Weirdo was cooing for X24 to return, the Albino was trying to reach grenades to blow the whole truck up, and I looked into Logan’s eyes and saw at once the pain that he felt and the determination to suppress it and the fear of losing himself to the pain.

That moment for me was stronger than when he was burying Charles, or when Logan died and Laura was crying “daddy daddy”.

Oops spoilers.

I am always sooo attracted to these random people that I meet in my life. People who look strong, people who are female but are very masculine, people who are male but quite feminine, intelligent people who enjoy talking about cumbersome topics, people who enjoy doing multiple things, people who are quiet but have noisy noisy heads.

And between us is the gap of socially-acceptable norms which I don’t know how to negotiate that well. Its much clearer if we have work to do or if we’re walking towards the same goal, but if there is no explicit necessity for any kind of relationship, it feels weird to maintain a bond. For the sake of… because I like you!

There are people like that that I want to dig up from my past. But it takes so much courage I don’t even know if I want to go there.

And these thoughts… they manifest and grow and stick inside my head. One little teeny tiny thing can grow to such an unbelievable size, obsession that it scares me! I scare myself.

Then I remember the multiverse. The simultaneous stories, the narratives that I am forgetting about. And for that moment I can stop obsessing over one storyline.

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Enchantment

…the contemporary world retains the power to enchant humans and that humans can cultivate themselves so as to experience more of that effect. Enchantment is something that we encounter, that hits us, but it is also a comportment that can be fostered through deliberate strategies. One of those strategies might be to give greater expression to the sense of play, another to hone sensory receptivity to the marvelous specificity of things. Yet another way to enhance the enchantment effect is to resist the story of the disenchantment of modernity.

You notice new colors, discern details previously ignored, hear extraordinary sounds, as familiar landscapes of sense sharpen and intensify. The world comes alive as a collection of singularities. Enchantment includes, then, a condition of exhilaration or acute sensory activity. To be simultaneously transfixed in wonder and transported by sense, to be both caught up and carried away—enchantment is marked by this odd combination of somatic effects.

These acts fall into the shadow of your rushing, indignant body. You note them—they are within the purview of your experience—but you pass them by. But if you were to gather up these dark, discarded scraps and peer into them, you would be on a different path, the path of a Kafkan tale.

The disenchantment tale figures nonhuman nature as more or less inert “matter”; it construes the modern West as a radical break from other cultures; and it depicts the modern self as predisposed toward rationalism, skepticism, and the problem of meaninglessness.

To be enchanted, then, is to participate in a momentarily immobilizing encounter; it is to be transfixed, spellbound.

My counterstory seeks to induce an experience of the contemporary world—a world of inequity, racism, pollution, poverty, violence of all kinds—as also enchanted—not a tale of reenchantment but one that calls attention to magical sites already here. Not magical in the sense of “a set of rituals for summoning up supernatural powers within a coherent cosmology,” but in the sense of cultural practices that mark “the marvelous erupting amid the everyday.”

Sometimes this wariness of joy is expressed as the charge of elitism— that is, only effete intellectuals have the luxury of feeling enchanted, whereas real people must cope with the real world. It surely is the case that hunger and other serious deprivations are incompatible with wonder. But the claim that the capacity for wonder is restricted to the rich, learned, and leisured, or that it finds its most vibrant expression there, is more confidently asserted than established. Even if it were true, all the more reason for privileged intellectuals to develop that capacity. For, if enchantment can foster an ethically laudable generosity of spirit, then the cultivation of an eye for the wonderful becomes something like an academic duty.

The charge of naive optimism is more probing. It raises the question of the link between enchantment and mindlessness, between joy and forgetfulness. In the chapters that follow, I do not deny such a link or its dangers, but I also argue that, in small, controlled doses, a certain forgetfulness is ethically indispensable.

Enchantment, as I use the term, is an uneasy combination of artifice and spontaneity.

I think that both those who celebrate disenchantment and those who lament it remain too governed by a single model of enchantment. My quasi-pagan model of enchantment pushes against a powerful and versatile Western tradition (in the disciplines of history, philosophy, and literature) that make enchantment depend on a divine creator, Providence, or, at the very least, a physical world with some original connection to a divine will. But what is at stake in such a retelling? The answer for me has to do with the effect—always indirect—that a cultural narrative has on the ethical sensibility of its bearers.

Affective fascination with a world thought to be worthy of it may help to ward off the existential resentment that plagues mortals, that is, the sense of victimization that recurrently descends upon the tragic (or absurd or incomplete) beings called human.

Jane Bennett: The Enchantment of Modern Life (2001)