Quote for Today: Ursula K. Le Guin

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The fact that the Hegnish have absolutely no interest in any people except themselves can also cause offense, or even rage. Foreigners exist. That is all the Hegnish know about them, and all they care to know. They are too polite to say that it is a pity that foreigners exist, but if they had to think about it, they would think so.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Changing Planes

Image © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons with CCLI

Quote for Today: Maya Angelou

 

parrot-773911_640A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
Maya Angelou, from “Caged Bird”
Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Tara Brach

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In bullfighting there is an interesting parallel to the pause as a place of refuge and renewal. It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own particular area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds his querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador’s perspective, at this point the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.
Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Image © Manuel González Olaechea y Franco with CCLicense

 

 

Playful Depths: I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK

Are humor and honesty effective in dealing with death and mental illness? Are we held back by propriety and clichés?

When the white coats take away Young-Goon’s grandmother, who believes she is a mouse and has been eating only radishes, Young-Goon retaliates with a suicide attempt. Young-Goon has become convinced that she is a robot and cannot eat. Her attempts to recharge herself using batteries and power cords are dangerous and less than successful. Placed in a mental institution, she makes friends with Il-Soon, a kleptomaniac schizophrenic who fears he is shrinking and will vanish into a dot one day. He knows she needs to eat, so he fabricates a device that turns rice into energy.

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Park Chan-wook’s I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK wades into the issues of aging and mental illness with an impish grin which never fades. You can watch the trailer here. Young-Goon has had such a difficult time dealing with her grandmother’s dissolution that she tries to cut out her feelings, asking Il-Soon to steal her sympathy so that she may kill the doctors in white coats to avenge her granny. Being a cyborg gives her life purpose; as a robot she is designed to destroy. The scenes in which she ridiculously imagines herself a weapon, shooting bullets out her fingers and dropping shotgun shells from her mouth, are some of the most entertaining of the film. I think many people, pressed too far by life or society, have fantasized such power. It isn’t real, and it doesn’t solve anything, as Young-Goon eventually accepts. The film’s combination of violence and humor seems to be a way to talk about the rage that humans feel when they question the meaning of life. This suggests that the way to rehabilitate those who fantasize about violence is not to suppress it, but to talk through it.

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Similarly, Il-Soon is afraid of not existing, of fading into a dot. At  some level we all have this fear or doubt, and, for many, religion addresses this. Il-Soon finds the thing that helps him the best is to care for Young-Goon, who has even less going for her than he does. When he serves her, his life has meaning. He learns to love Young-Goon as if she were his own self.

There are some moments in the movie which are shocking and difficult, even amidst the madcap humor, but it is an honest attempt to work through existential issues without the normal cliches we use. What seems to be irreverence may actually be some sort of homage. Can we respect another’s journey even if it doesn’t resemble our own?