Thursday, November 13, 2008

Antonioni and Reality

There's a cool Antonioni film called Blow Up that released during the mid-1960s and explores how we understand and grasp reality. I saw it in a class I took in college 20 years ago. The story takes place in Britain and concerns a young photographer who may or may not have accidentally taken a photo bearing evidence of a murder. He continues to enlarge (or blow up) the developed film, seeking to clarify what he sees or doesn't see (as in, a dead body).

My favorite scene is the ending, where the protagonist is watching a couple of mimes "play tennis," sans rackets or tennis balls. At one point the imaginary ball is knocked away from the court, and the mimes gesture passionately for the photographer to go retrieve it. He hesitates at first, for logically he knows there is no ball...but then, unable to withstand the pressure and expectations of the mimes he runs off, reaches into thin air, and throws the ball back. The match continues, the photographer watches.

Sometimes I wonder if we get caught up in tossing tennis balls that aren't really there, in the midst of contests that don't really exist. It is so easy to succumb to reaching for the guise in order to please others and become part of the match, the competition for acceptance. We allow reality to become distorted in order to fulfill what we believe are the proper expectations set by those who supposedly can justify us as competent, worthy, leader-like.

No matter how we try to blow up the photograph, embellish it, airbrush it, rotate it on its head, add clip art to it, etc., we are who we are: authentic beings uniquely wired and equipped to make a contribution.

I once wrote a song that contained the lyric, "It's so hard to see the truth/When all we do is look for proof." The truth is pouring out of our hearts, if we will allow ourselves to feel and be rather than trying to do in order to become what we think others want us to be. That's keeping it real.


At 7:32 AM , Blogger Kristie said...

Great post, John. You are so right--it is so easy to get caught up in trying to win the approval of others, and in looking for airtight proof. Always good to be reminded of both of these pitfalls.


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