Monday, January 5, 2009

The Soul of Video Images: Why We Love Films

O memory! thou mid-way world

'Twixt Earth and Paradise,

Where things decayed, and loved ones lost

In dreamy shadows rise.

by Abraham Lincoln


I do not love film because it captures and freezes images, but because it evokes in me that part of knowing that realizes Reality as Eternal Process; the film is a moving image, an ongoingness that mimics the Reality under reality. At one level a film or video is obviously 'less real' because they cannot be tasted, touched and experienced as this current moment in my body, but on another level a moving video image is more than a mere fleeting moment. The video reminds me that the traits and actions of John Wayne or Marilyn Monroe are an eternal process of Psyche, Infinite Ideas or Images which underlie this world; the celebrated (celebrities) individuals or heroes we have named and known on this planet are eternal manifestations of Infinite Archetypes. In fact, the very word 'video' is etymologically related to the word 'idea'. A video is an image or idea - and invisible Ideas are the foundation upon which material existence is built. Humans live by these archetypal Idea/Videos. That is the essence of Jesus' saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word (Idea/Video/Image) that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

When I am truly caught up in a film, especially what we call a 'classic,’ I am not cognizant that the actors may be long dead and buried. I am engaged at the Imaginal level which knows Process – which knows, craves and lives by Love and Beauty, Truth and Action, and a thousand Eternals as always Existing. These Images feed me. The Hebrew prophet Amos, in 800 B.C., said, "There is a famine in the Land, not for bread, but for the Word (Images) of God."

The ancients fed this human need through ritual. Their dances, re-enactments, sacred ceremonies and stories accomplished what our films do today. The so called modern "decline of religion" is really just a disinterest in old methods of evoking the archetypal Invisibles in the soul. To see a film is a religious or numinous act, whether we know it or not. Most people in ancient cultures did not fully understand the numinous significance of what was happening in their ritual dances; they just knew that ‘something’ necessary for existence was happening. This religious impulse for Images is autonomic, like breathing, occurring beyond our conscious awareness. The times we are most aware is when they are interfered with, like breathing, drinking or eating. If you place your hand over a man’s nose and mouth, he will become acutely aware of his need for oxygen, breath, spiritus, air, pneuma; similarly, if you remove ritual or theatre from a culture, people will feel something has gone terribly awry. We must find some way to participate in the Eternal Process, to know at some level there is more to existence than one moment passing into the next and disappearing forever.

Many of America's great early film directors and actors came to this country in the 1930s from Germany as the Third Reich restricted the Images of artists in an effort to control the souls of the German people. Billy Wilder, Marlene Dietrich, Peter Lorre and many others fled Germany and came to America where they could freely follow the impulse of Psyche to display the complete archetypal pantheon of Video Ideas for the starving human soul. The soul craves these Eternal Ideas. lives by these words from the gods.

Humans are ritualistic creatures, precisely because we must participate in the eternality of the Process or wither up in some version of a meaningless temporal existence, usually taking the form of some sort of addiction to transient people, substances or activities in our western world. Films and Video Ideas are like dreams which are autonomically generated as little Night Rites or nocturnal theatre which reflects the Eternal Process or Reality underneath our transient daily undertakings. The kiss I shared with my lover yesterday is an Eternal Kiss, never ending, just as when any number of romantic films light up the screen with some magical kissing scene. That kiss on the screen is symbolic of The Kiss, the Connection between man and woman, Divine and Human, Soul and Spirit. War movies and rituals allow us to experience Eternal Justice, Compassion, Honor, Courage; the political conflict between Liberals and Traditionalists are Eternal themes. These archetypal themes are many and must be expressed, impressed and in-pressed on soul.

The reason humans are so drawn to television, film, video and computer images is not because we are lazy and ignorant, but because we are unconsciously drawn into the need for the evocation of the Eternal Process we know to be under, through and behind the mundane moments which pass into history. History, on the film and video game, might be call ‘is-story,’ or The Story that always is. Each story is my story, our story, the never ending story. The existence of Epics in each culture, from the Bible to the Iliad, from the Mahabharata to the Simpsons, continue the story that began before there ever an earth or a human being. We do not invent these stories, we embody them, and they will continue long after this planet is dead and every human body on it mingled with star dust in some cosmic implosion.

This craving for Images is also the basis of a universal and ubiquitous recognition of some sense of and defense for immortality in some form. We intuitively know that Living does not end, that Love does not disappear, that Courage and Justice will not go away just because a human body, spherical planet or precious culture does go away.

And Time is more like a projector light than a measuring device. Reality and in particular our daily lives are more like video clips than a photo album. The frames are strung together continuously like a strip of film, and Time is a sort of projector light that shines through a given frame from one second to the next, revealing one after the other in progression. We measure these frames by a clock and call it past, present and future – as if the Process stops for our puny analyses. Just because Time has moved her projecting light to the next frame does not mean that the frames that have passed are any less real or any less present. The video is immortal; only the revelation of each frame is mortal. Death is merely the passing of the light from one frame to the next.

That is why we love films. They are inadequate containers of the way Reality works.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great way to see our love for films and images. They are doing work in our souls even when we are not aware of it. Thank you!