Talons Philosophy

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Why You Can’t Escape Yourself (or Philosophy) – Claire

When your teacher asks you to go and experience something related to metaphysics on a weekend when you have absolutely no free time, what do you do?  Find a way to relate the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them to metaphysics, of course.  This only seemed appropriate, considering my original (shameful) question of “do we exist” came up from re-reading Harry Potter.

once again, why past Claire? Why?

So, what were my questions going into Phil’s Day Off?  I was wondering whether or not Being is something you can turn off, or if it is something that must be consistent.  For example, seeing a movie is considered a form of escapism.  It’s a chance to stop thinking about yourself and your own life for a while and concentrate on something else; in the case of a Harry Potter film, something new entirely, such as magic.  Can you put Being on pause to truly escape while enjoying this form of escapism?  I was also wondering how the experience of seeing a movie might differ for those who are being vs those who are Being.  My plan was to see the movie and analyze my experience afterwards.  My artefact is my ticket stub; my “ticket” to escapism.

I found that, while watching the movie, I was fully aware of where I was and who I was.  There was not a moment where I was so absorbed in the movie that I felt like I was no longer me, and that could of course have been the movie itself not being the type of movie that pulls you in entirely, but there are other factors that I found interesting.  The more I think about it, the more I realize I hear my own voice in my head whether I am watching a movie or reading a book; I’m constantly analyzing what’s happening and trying to piece things together.  This leads me to believe that, through using my own brain and allowing my own thoughts and opinions to come through while watching movies, I do not turn off Being to simply be while watching a movie.  The whole movie I was picking up references and noticing plot holes (which were, unfortunately, present) and leaning over to whisper my theories to my mom.  I was not necessarily thinking about myself and my own life, but I was drawing from my own experiences (whether those were through other movies, books or even the writer’s curse = noticing every detail because you’ve been taught to never include anything unless it furthers the plot, which means that your predictions are usually accurate) to figure things out and better understand the movie.  There were also several moments or characters that I could find myself relating to, which leads me to believe that not only can you not pause Being to just be for a while, but also that you cannot truly escape yourself.

What is the point of escapism, then?  For someone whose life is highly involved in entertainment and story telling to take others away for a while, I feel as though this question should worry me.  It doesn’t.  Sometimes we need a break, and even if we cannot truly escape ourselves, we can take a break from going through the motions of our own lives for a while, and we can learn so much from escapism as well.  I have learned so much from watching live theatre and from reading books and seeing movies.  Something that still remains unanswered for me is how others might experience seeing a movie; I wonder if someone who is considered to be being would just sit back and watch the movie, letting it unfold before them instead of using it as a way to exercise their mind?  It’s something I want to look into more.  In the case of being, I feel as though you have not fully established a sense of self, and therefore have no self to escape.  And in the case of Being?  Sorry, but there is no escaping yourself (or your philosophy homework…trust me, I’ve tried.)  You can, however, find a form of escapism to take a bit of a break.  Sometimes that’s all we need.  As for my original question, whether or not we exist?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if there even is the possibility of finding a definite answer.  Thinking about it still stresses me out, and I have to push that inner Ravenclaw that wants answers down to find that inner Hufflepuff that’s just shrugging and telling me to enjoy whatever form of existence I am living.



2 Responses to Why You Can’t Escape Yourself (or Philosophy) – Claire

  1. Mr. J says:

    Interesting post, and well-narrated, to boot! I was able to almost entirely forget myself while read-

    …but seriously:

    I wonder if different works of art can actually transport us beyond ourselves – perhaps not as readily when one is in the audience, but performers often talk about this loss of individual consciousness, don’t they? Maybe these are more cases of artists revealing something unique in a moment on stage, while that something is still ultimately authentically *them,* even if it isn’t altogether consciously so. (These are surely questions which Ms. Clausen might be able to help us answer…)

    Something we will read about soon enough, but which I will share now, as it relates, is this essay on “the positive aesthetic experience” (http://e-a.freehostia.com/cleath/docs/asexp113.htm), which the author describes “concentration on experience in which there is no desire for greater control of the experience.” During such experiences (which others have referred to as ‘flow states’ (Great TED Talk on Flow: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow)), there is “a concentration originating in the organism causing it to perceive its environment with a heightened or more vivid perception.” In other words: certain experiences cause us to expand our perception (or awareness of ourselves or the world) to accommodate the perspective newly created by the experience itself: I have a hunch that this is what the arts folks are chasing in magical musical numbers, slam poems, or cinematic performances.

    …but I also think it’s what the adventure-sports folks are after when they ski off cliffs and through powder fields, or descend river rapids in narrow kayaks. Maybe not so much losing one’s self, but creating one’s self on a higher plane?

    What do you think? Does this ring true to your experience of the stage? Or being in the audience when something ‘special’ happens?

    • Claire says:

      Hi Mr. Jackson! I somehow missed this comment, so I’m sorry for the long overdue response. You bring up an interesting point of the difference between creating art and receiving art; I have heard of instances where performers get so into character that they end up doing something rash onstage that is not true to who they are, but true to their character. I myself have never had a moment like that -I have always stuck to what I know I am supposed to do, and if I do anything others find to be unexpected, I’ve usually planned it -but there is a sense of becoming someone else for a while. It’s one of the reasons I love acting as well as reading; to be able to not be me for a while is something I am fascinated by. At the same time, I am still in my body with my mind and heart, even when I am portraying a different body, mind and heart. I would agree with what you said about not necessarily losing one’s self as much as creating one’s self on a higher plane. I feel like that perfectly describes what artists, as well as athletes as you mentioned, do. You are still you, but you have the ability to create yourself in a manner unlike yourself.


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