Saturday, November 6, 2010
I Didn't Read the Book; I Saw the Movie
When I voiced my opinion, another woman in the group said that if I had just read the book first, everything would have made sense. If I had just read the book, I would have understood the characters' motivation, their emotional lives, the nuances of the story historically, and so on and so on, and then I would have liked the movie. Or at least understood it.
But here's the thing. In the film discussion group, what we do is watch movies and talk about them. I didn't read the book; I saw the movie. And from a critical perspective, the movie needs to be able to stand alone. If it's a good movie, I don't need the book first to make it so. The book is not the movie. I didn't read the book; I saw the movie.
And now this is my catch phrase for so many things in life that are incomprehensible on their own, and can only be understood if you get the back story. All the ways that people and situations are confusing or unpleasant or difficult, and how we convince ourselves that if we just try harder to understand, everything will sort itself out.
And women especially work hard on understanding, supporting, accommodating, and trying again and again to make 'it' work. We talk to our friends, consult experts, and think too hard and too long to get ourselves comfortable with what we know makes us uncomfortable.
We read books and magazines and watch talk shows, trying to figure out how to adjust ourselves just so to make the things that don't work work better, certain that if we can just get to a place of deeper knowledge, that the discomfort will disappear and the disappointment will ease and the anger will turn to love.
But in reality, what's in front of us is just exactly what's in front of us. And knowledge and understanding can change how we feel, and can soothe the mind and heart, but we can't simply discount what's there. No matter how good 'The Reader' might have been as a book, as a movie it didn't speak to me, it didn't touch me, and it took up a lot of time I could have spent better elsewhere.
And no matter how deeply we can love, how hooked into the drama of difficult people and situations we can get, how truly sincere we are in wanting to help, we also need the clarity to recognize when we are doing that to our own detriment, when we are sustaining the problem instead of solving it.
For me, the hardest part of change is breaking old habits.
at 8:16:00 PM