07 August 2011

EIGHTY-FIRST

"I have just fallen off of my chair."  We recall the Laputans in Gulliver’s Travels.  What is it about their inflated bladders that wakes them from the sleep of contemplation?  This motif recurs in one of the hipster generation’s earliest philosophical expressions, the film “I [heart] Huckabees,” and again in Darren Aronofksy’s post-modern “Clarice Sunrise”.  But where Aronofsky turns the bladder into a token of pain (replicating by means of a disconnected outward sign the hidden interior mortification of the monastic hairshirt), in “Huckabees” it is an exercise in nihilism.  The moment of contact is the moment of self-forgetting, a chance to lose all interest and focus, to deprive one’s thoughts of any intentionality, and hence (if we accept the hackneyed converse of the Cartesian argument) to cease to exist.  Falling off one’s chair is the greatest liberation.