"Well we're safe for now. Thank goodness we're in a bowling alley." Big Bob.
Remember Psych 101? Freud and the "Pleasure Principle"? That, for us mortals, it all comes down to instinctively seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Jeremy Bentham agreed, "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure".
I've been working on a project called Storyline (by Donald Miller). Recently, in the project there was discussion about Freud's theory and the contrast with the work of psychologist, Viktor Frankl, who took Freud on: "When a person can't find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasures." -- Viktor Frankl
For the third of the series I want to suggest the movie Pleasantville.
First, the movie is worth watching because it is funny, entertaining and has a great cast that does a wonderful job with the concept--a setting of a B&W 50s TV Family, think Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Cleavers, etc.
But it is also worth it because it is challenging and will provoke thought if you let it (in other words: are you "colored"?)
The film uses color as a metaphor. A lot of the reviews and commentary say that it is a metaphor for enlightenment. I think that's one aspect (in a small e enlightenment way). But I think it goes way beyond Enlightenment (big E) worldview to Romanticism (big R), and beyond.
A few questions to ponder as you watch:
Is Pleasantville "pleasant" in a way that is characterized by the kinds of "pleasures" Freud had in mind? It seems like the good folks of Pleasantville wanted to preserve their utopia but maybe not necessarily in an epicurean way. Agree? But they seem so happy with a shallow, colorless pleasantness, fearing dystopia without even knowing what it might look like.
I am so afraid of doing that--being a party to allowing the creation of a stark, grayscale, false sense of security kind of existence. The older I get the harder it is to say, "bring on the color" knowing we risk dystopia. But I believe we risk it either way.
I think maybe Pleasantville sort of helps make Frankl's case: there is something beyond "pleasure." There is the possibility of "finding a deep sense of meaning." I know. I've had glimpses of it. I've seen it in others.
To me, that's what the "colored" metaphor is about. Watch the movie and you'll see that people become colored for a number of reasons: passion, discovery, beauty, honesty (even honest anger), all stuff that makes us fully human. Is there the risk of hurt, harm, heartbreak? Yes. Is it worth it?
Last Saturday we went to an art show. We've been friends of the family of this young artist for several years. Her name is Sterling Smith and she is wonderful. Currently she is doing some pieces in watercolor with pen & ink. I love the mix of these two mediums (or is it media) and apparently she does too. I asked Sterling what she liked about the mix. I'm paraphrasing what I heard her say:
I think the two (watercolor and ink) are like life. The watercolor spectrum is unlimited, on wet paper the color flows where it wants to, there are gradients and loose edges. The ink though is monochromatic, and constricted. It is defined and definite.
I guess sometimes we need both.
If you've seen Pleasantville, maybe what I've written here makes some sense. If not, watch it. I hope I haven't given too much away. I hope by the end of the movie you will be "colored" even if you're outlined with ink.
At least watch the trailer...