Friday, September 24, 2004


I just purchased a new tee-shirt from a friend who had them made up to order. It reads,

One More Atheist Praying For the Rapture

Actually, I'd be happy if they just all moved South and flagellated themselves with a Bible belt.


I was watching Charlie the other night, interviewing Tim Robbins, Samuel Jackson and the Shawshank director (who?). Robbins commented that Shawshank was the only film that he could think of which featured a two male friendship which didn’t involve car chases. Later they spoke about the film’s theme of “hope”. They praised hope and admired those who persevere. I got to thinking about that, about whether hope or despair is the best teacher, and about the best way to approach contentment in the modern world.

Frankly, I learned to find a reasonable amount of happiness in life not by embracing hope but by looking the dog eat dog nature of evolved humankind square in the chops and changing from there, from that despair, to acceptance of a brutal nature without flinching. Acceptance of a life without hope is the key to my own moderate happiness. I almost always sense something manic and unbelievable about that Christian happy-faced person telling me about her newfound Jeeees-us!

Funny, too, that I remember another film which concerns male bonding without car chases which ended not in hope but with a scary reality that removed all hope, that ended with Ratso’s death on the bus trip to Florida. I have in mind Midnight Cowboy. That was the kind of film that informed my younger days, that and films out of the French New Wave, like 400 Blows (I know that I keep bringing that film up). Or Clockwork Orange with its ambivalent ending. Or Doctor Strangelove which ends in the annihilation of the world. My films are films of reality and many times leave not a shred of hope. There is no escape from death.

There is no such thing as a happy ending in real life. There’s just being born, living and dying with moments of happiness and joy and sorrow and terror in between. Anyone who pursues happiness will surely not find it. Anyone who looks for a happy ending is almost certain to be disappointed. But anyone who accepts life on life’s terms (which are not pretty) has a chance of a moderate contentment. Though the films of my youth over and over dumped me into despair, they also made me find a way out of despair without tacking on a happy, unreal face or pretending there’s a god who’ll make it all right in the end. I can now look life in its scared and eyeless face and not shudder. Me and The Stranger can stare out of the same prison window and be okay with that.

Confucius says, "If you devote your life to seeking revenge, first dig two graves."

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