Thursday, March 30, 2006

beta feels old, ham, joy

Every moment that Will Oldham is on the screen in Kelly Reichhardt's second feature film, Old Joy, it's impossible to look away from the man's mesmerizing, almost-freakish visage. Playing the perpetually-stoned and non-commital Kurt, that expansive pate, protruding forehead, and thick jut of amber beard threatens to overtake the film's surroundings, and yet the film's main focus, Mark (played by Daniel London) more than holds his own with his own intent stare.

His eyes are closed when the film opens, as he practices his meditation despite the blender of his pregnant wife and the phone call of his old friend. Mark is trying to do good in the world, trying to set it to rights as he drives his Volvo, listening to ranting left-wing talk shows, trying to remain centered. Or has he divulges at one point: "Find another rhythm, do what other people do."

The film, based on a short story by Jonathan Raymond and expanded to a full-length with Reichardt, is simple enough in premise: two friends decide to reconnect for a quick camping trip before paternal duties tear them asunder for good. They smoke a jay, get bummed about a record store they once knew and frequented closing down, feel the highs of the past come much lower now, and guards remain raised. And yet no interaction between two people, be they lovers, friends, or strangers, is ever that simple. Every word echoes an unseen past.

As the last post's faceless dialogue attests, Will Oldham himself, his creak of mystery, his crackled voicing of the unknowable ancients, resonates deep within my roots. Hearing him, seeing him, moves me to a heady time of my life, to malleable, infinite-possibilities of young years, to invincibility, to you know, the "quiet joys of brotherhood." So to see him portraying an old acquaintance makes me re-think my other strained and fissured-with-time relationships to friends in the past.

Throughout the quiet --at times unspoken-- dialogue between the two old friends, I project myself and my estranged friendships instead, toggling between which man perhaps represents us best. Am I more the ever-adrift and dispersive Kurt or the self-immolated tethering of Mark? Am I lost amid devilish details or else on the road to hell paved smooth with good intentions? As the men make u-turns, get lost, seek drunken shelter from the encroaching darkness of both Oregon rainstorms and inpenetrable forest dark (cinematographer Peter Sillen captures the overcast skies, the umbrage and chill of trees come evening exquisitely) or else wander slowly along faint trails towards their destination, there is the small realization of no straight trajectories, no cut and easy path to travel. "It is to be on one thing only, on the road to God knows where," Kurt croaked in another life.

The film's center, soaking in the buck in cloistered hot springs with a can of Hamm's to cool them, is silent, just the gurgle of water and steam rising between pale feet. His hands move to Mark and yet there is no resolution. As the discussion afterwards goes, Reichardt wonders about idealism when it is unforgiving or unable to come across and reconnect, to forgive with grace. Grace...that's an unwieldy word. I still find myself in such a limbo, wondering (with a line that echoes one once written to me in a long-buried letter) if the wires can ever be burned clean, if there is ever true connection between people. Is communion only in the past?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The personal development industry has never been bigger! It consists of a myriad of authors basically telling us how to improve our lives. We are constantly being told self help and self improvement has never been easier. New techniques, gadgets and potions adorn the shelves of new age shops and the 1 billion dollar industry, that is personal development, offers many different approaches to help better our lives. They offer ways to increase our bounty and ultimately alter our own reality. A great example of this is how to develop a Prosperity Consciousness. But does this state really exist and if it does will it bring the effortless unlimited wealth promised?
A lot has been written about prosperity and how to attain it. We have been told by many religious traditions and every personal development guru that the Universersal Source (God, Spirit, Cosmic Mind or whatever label you chose to give it) is boundless wealth. We are also told that abundance, wealth and prosperity are our birthright! Why then are so many people ill, broke, frustrated and unfulfilled? Can a person really develop a prosperity consciousness and effortlessly attract wealth? Well as with everything in life there is only one way to find out. Test it for yourself!
Before we can attain and then test the effectiveness of having a prosperity consciousness we need to understand some basic truths. Let's start by explaining three fundamentals of personal development namely; 1. The Universal Source is all wealth, abundance and prosperity; 2. Prosperity is our birthright; 3. You get more of what you focus on.
1. Why are we told that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth? - Because the Universal Source is the consciousness of the Universe - a universe that is still expanding. It is the driving force behind physical reality. It created everything you see, hear, touch and smell as well as all that we are unaware of (microwaves, radiation, air etc.). It has been stated in religious and metaphysical traditions that this intelligence is not only the Source of everything but that it is also the substance of it! It creates the Universe from itself! It is omnipresent (everywhere present). That means that the entire seen and unseen aspects of the universe are a part of this Universal Source. Science reaffirms this theory as it states that nothing is solid and everything is just one mass of pure energy that vibrates at different frequencies and gives the illusion of separateness.
So we can now claim that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth, abundance and prosperity with some belief. For if this Source is the very substance of everything then it is all the wealth, abundance and prosperity that exists at this very moment!
Ok so far? Now lets look at the second point - prosperity is our birthright.
2. If this Universal Intelligence is the source and substance of all things then there can be only one intelligence in the Universe. Jesus said to his disciples "know ye not that you are the temple of the living God?" Buddha attained enlightenment and "oneness". The list of these religious teachings are too numerous to mention but their message remains the same - God (Universal Substance) resides within and around us. It's very substance makes up our physical body and the world around us - "For in him we live, move and have our being" Acts17:28. Therefore, if this Universal Source is at the very core of our being and is the substance from which we take physical form then it stands to reason that we are connected to everyone else and in fact everything else around us - we are a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the universe. Just as your hand or foot is a part of your body, so every grain of sand, blade of grass, wisp of wind, bar of gold and brick that is laid in a mansion is part of you. The unlimited wealth of the universe is yours for the claiming. It is already yours, always has been and always will be. It is a part of you.
Ok let's go the third point - you get more of what you focus on.
3. "It never rains but it pours", is a saying I have used myself in the past. Have you ever wondered why such a statement appears to be true? Well metaphysics and religion tell us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" or as Job cried out to God "For that which I greatly feared has come upon me". What we focus our conscious attention on increases! Don't believe me? Test it for yourself! If you can muster up the strength to do it then think in negative terms for a week. Judge everything that happens to you in negative terms and think only of a negative outcome and watch what happens in your world!!! This is a relatively easy experiment as we are conditioned to think negatively by the world. A word of warning though - once you prove that your focus determines your reality stop thinking negative thoughts as best you can.
I will not go into the 'hows' of why our focus has such a profound influence on our lives (that would be the subject of a book or perhaps a future article) just prove to yourself that it does. A clue can be found in the teachings of Jesus when he said "The Kingdom of heaven is within".
So now we have the three principles of the prosperity consciousness explained let's put it to work. The attainment of a prosperity consciousness is relatively simple - just think on the first two principles until you fully understand them and integrate them into your consciousness. As you focus on them you will discover that your feelings of lack disappear and you begin to feel a connection with everything around you. It is really just an attitude shift - nothing metaphysical or mystical about it at all. You begin to consciously realize that everything is a part of you. Your focus changes from poverty to wealth.
If it helps make a list of affirmations that correspond to the two principles outlined e.g. "God is the Source and substance of everything", "I am at one with everyone and everything around me", "I am a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the Universe" etc. Don't just rhyme them off in a parrot like manner, think on them and realize the scientific or spiritual truths behind them.
Will it work? Well I can say now that if you follow the above instructions a real change will happen in you. You will start to see the beauty of the world and the unlimited resources that are available within and around you. Will you attain wealth, abundance and prosperity? Test it for yourself! self hypnosis

1:06 PM  

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