last updated December 30th, 2006 and
is permanently morphing...
(5 Caban (Earth) / 10 K'ank'in - 57/260 - 188.8.131.52.17)
film _Waking Life_ (avi parts 1 & 2)(360megs total)/(vhs/ntsc)directed by Richard Linklater
"My narrative aspirations are to follow the thought process or the way time unfolds, or I'm thinking about how the brain works or how you make connections--the constructive aspect of our memories and how we construct the world visually through our brains. Thinking about it, it seems like you just kinda imagine the story, or you're hitching ideas onto a narrative. I think [the two films] are both primarily about ideas, but they're very different in tone. For one, _Slacker_is very much in a time structure and a place. _Waking Life_ is probably another reality altogether, so there's no real time or space structure to it. Yet it's a similar idea. It's a narrative that really hitched to a bunch of ideas."
"It was that contradicting notion of being awake in your dreams that intrigued me. Y'know, like once you're at that level, then it's sort of like being aware you're watching a film. See, it was really my feeling that dream and film are so similar that to make [one] about [the other] is like a redundancy that sort of cancels out the whole thing. People don't want to go see a movie about dreams. I don't. To me, what happens in _Waking Life_ isn't about dreams; it's another experience. It's about being awake and in another state of reality."
"I like the idea of the aesthetics of the idea at the moment you're hearing it. Like, not that you're disagreeing with it necessarily, it's just to be sort of taken in and processed. Obviously, some are gonna resonate; others, y'know--people are going to take it differently. It's all about your own personal, highly subjective experience. I don't think it would ever be the same for two people. "
"I think I'm more of an observer in my own head. Y'know, I'm not saying that it's a good quality at all, but I just kinda wish I had more of an immediacy sometimes. I'm always questioning. "
(A boat car drives up in front of the airport)
Not a problem. Anchors away. So what do you think of my little vessel? She's what we call seeworthy, s-e-e, see with your eyes. I feel like my transport should be an extension of my personality. Voila. And this, this is like my little window to the world and every minute's a different show. Now I may not understand it, I may not even necessarily agree with it, but I'll tell you what, I accept it and just sort of glide along. You want to keep things on an even keel I guess is what I'm saying. You want to go with the flow. The sea refuses no river. The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. Saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation, just occupants. That's where you guys come in. It's like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now you may get the 8-pack, you may get the 16-pack, but it's all in what you do with the crayons, the colors that you're given. And don't worry about drawing within the lines, or coloring outside the lines. I say, color outside the lines. You know what I mean? Color right off the page. Don't box me in! We're in motion to the ocean. We are not landlocked, I'll tell you that. So where do you want out?
(A blonde woman is talking in her office)
Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration, and this is where I think language came from. It came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like the word water, we came up with a sound for that, or saber tooth tiger right behind you, we came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing. What is frustration? Or what is anger? Or love? When I say love, the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person's ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain, through their memories of love, or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying and they say yes, they understand. But how do I know they understand, because words are inert, they're just symbols, they're dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we've connected, and we think that we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for.
(A very intense man is talking in his office, gesturing wildly)
If we're looking at the highlights of human development, you have to look at the evolution of the organism, and then at the development of its interaction with the environment. Evolution of the organism begins with the evolution of life, proceeds through the hominid, coming to the evolution of mankind: Neanderthal and Cro-magnon man. Now interestingly, what you're looking at here are three strains: biological, anthropological -- development of the cities -- and culture, which is human expression.
Now what you've seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time scales that are involved here, two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, 100,000 years for mankind as we know it, you're beginning to see the telescopic nature of the evolutionary timeline. And then when you get to agriculture, when you get to scientific revolution and industrial revolution, you're looking at 10,0000 years, 400 years, 150 years, and you're seeing a further telescoping of this evolutionary time. What that means is that as we go through the new evolution, it's going to telescope to the point we should be able to manifest it within our lifetime, within a generation.
The new evolution stems from information. And it stems from two types of information, digital and analog. The digital is artificial intelligence, the analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism, and you knit the two together with neurobiology. Before, on the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die and the other would grow and dominate. But under the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, non-competitive grouping, independent from the external.
And what's interesting here is that evolution now becomes an individually centered process emanating from the needs and desires of the individual, and not an external process, a passive process, where the individual is just at the whim of the collective. So you produce a neo-human, okay, with a new individuality, a new consciousness. But that's only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle, because as the next cycle proceeds, the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence, as ability piles upon ability, the speed changes. Until what? Until we reach a crescendo. In a way, it could almost be imagined as an almost instantaneous fulfillment of human and neo-human potential. It could be something totally different. It could be the amplification of the individual, the multiplication of individual existences. Parallel existences. Now with the individual no longer restricted by time and space.
And the manifestations of this neo-human type evolution, the manifestations could be dramatically counter-intuitive. That's the interesting part. The old evolution is cold, it's sterile, it's efficient, and its manifestations are those of social adaptation: we're talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, war, predation. These will be subject to de-emphasis. These will be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm will give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These will be the manifestations of the new evolution. And that is what we would hope to see. Yes, that would be nice.
(Main character walking down the street with a man who is holding a can of gasoline).
Self-destructive man feels completely alienated, utterly alone. He's an outsider to the human community. He thinks to himself, "I must be insane." What he fails to realize is that society has, just as he does, a vested interest in considerable losses, in catastrophes. These wars, famines, floods and quakes meet well defined needs. Man wants chaos. In fact, he's got to have it. Depressions, strife, riots, murder, all this dread. We're irresistibly drawn to that almost orgiastic state created out of death and destruction. It's in all of us. We revel in it. Sure, the media tries to put a sad face on these things, painting them up as great human tragedies, but we all know the function of the media has never been to eliminate the evils of the world. No! Their job is to persuade us to accept those evils and get used to living with them. The powers that be want us to be passive observers. You got a match? And they haven't given us any other options outside the occasional purely symbolic participatory act of voting. You want the puppet on the right or the puppet on the left? I feel the time has come to project my own inadequacies and dissatisfactions into the socio-political and scientific schemes. Let my own lack of a voice be heard.
(He pours gasoline all over himself and lights himself on fire.)
(A couple are in bed talking -- Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke)
I keep thinking about something you said.
Something I said?
Yeah. About how you often feel like you're observing your life from the perspective of an old woman about to die. Remember that?
Yeah. I still feel that way sometimes. Like I'm looking back on my life, and my waking life is her memories.
Exactly. I heard that Tim Leary said as he was dying that he was looking forward to the moment when his body was dead but his brain was still alive. You know they say that there's still six to twelve minutes of brain activity after everything else is shutdown. And one second of dream consciousness, well, that's infinitely longer than a waking second, you know what I'm saying?
Oh yeah, definitely. For example I wake up and it is 10:12, and then I go back to sleep and have those long, intricate, beautiful dreams that seem to last for hours, and then I wake up and it's 10:13.
Yeah, exactly. So in 6-12 minutes of brain activity, that could be your whole life. I mean, you are that woman looking back over everything.
Okay. So what if I am. Then what would you be in all that?
Whatever I am right now. I mean, maybe I only exist in your mind, but I'm still just as real as anything else.
Yeah. I've been thinking also about something you said.
Just about reincarnation and where all the new souls come from over time. Everybody always says they are the reincarnation of Cleopatra or Alexander the Great. I always want to tell them they were probably some dumbfuck like everybody else. I mean, it's impossible. Think about it. The world population has doubled in the past 40 years, right? So if you really believe in that ego thing of one eternal soul, then you have only 50% chance of your soul being over 40, and for it to be over 150 years old, then it's only one out of six.
Right, so what are you saying? That reincarnation doesn't exist, or that we're all young souls, or half of us are first round humans?
No, no, what I'm trying to say is that somehow I believe reincarnation is just a poetic expression of what collective memory really is. There was this article by this bio-chemist I read not long ago, and he was talking about how when a member of our species is born, it has a billion years of memory to draw on. And this is where we inherit our instincts.
I like that. It's like there's this whole telepathic thing going on that we're all a part of, whether we're conscious of it or not. That would explain why there are all these seemingly spontaneous worldwide innovative leaps in science and the arts, you know, like the same results popping up everywhere independent of each other. Some guy on a computer figures something out, and then almost simultaneously a bunch of other people all over the world figure out the same thing. They did this study where they isolated a group of people over time, you know, and monitored their abilities at crossword puzzles in relation to the general population, and they secretly gave them a day-old crossword, one that had already been answered by thousands of other people, and their scores went up dramatically. Like 20%. So it's like once the answers are out there, people can pick up on them. Like we're all telepathically sharing our experiences.
(Philosopher professor talking in his office)
In a way, in our contemporary world view, it's easy to think that science has come to take the place of god. But some philosophical problems remain as troubling as ever. Take the problem of free will. This problem has been around for a long time, since before Aristotle in 350 B.C. St. Augustin, St. Thomas Aquinas, these guys all worried about how we can be free if god already knows in advance everything we're going to do. Nowadays, we know that the world operates according to some fundamental physical laws, and these laws govern the behavior of every object in the world. These laws, because they are so trustworthy, they enable incredible technological achievements. But look at yourself. We're just physical systems too, right? We're just complex arrangements of carbon molecules. We're mostly water. And our behavior isn't going to be an exception to these basic physical laws. So it starts to look like whether it's god setting things up in advance, and knowing everything you're going to do, or whether it's these basic physical laws governing everything, there's not a lot of room left for freedom.
So you might try to just ignore the question, ignore the mystery of free will, and say, oh well, it's just an historical anecdote, it's sophomoric, it's a question with no answer, just forget about it. But the question keeps staring you in the face. Think about individuality for example. Who you are is mostly a matter of the free choices that you make. Or take responsibility. You can only be held responsible, you can only be found guilty, or you can only be admired and respected for things you did of your own free will. So the question keeps coming back. And we don't really have a solution to it. It starts to look like all our decisions are really just a charade.
Think about how it happens. There's some electrical activity in your brain, your neurons fire, they send a signal down into your nervous system, it passes along down into your muscle fibers, they twitch, you might reach out your arm. It looks like it's a free action on your part, but every part of that process is actually governed by physical laws, chemical laws, electrical laws, and so on.
So now it starts to look like the big bang set up the initial conditions, and the whole rest of human history, and even before, is really just the playing out of subatomic particles according to these basic fundamental physical laws. We think we're special. We think we have some kind of special dignity, but that now comes under threat. That's really challenged by this picture.
So you might be saying, well, wait a minute. What about quantum mechanics? I know enough contemporary physical theory to know it's not really like that. It's really a probabilistic theory. There's room. It's loose. It's not deterministic. And that's going to enable us to understand free will. But if you look at the detail, it's not really going to help because what happens is you have some very small quantum particles, and their behavior is apparently a bit random, they sort of swerve, their behavior is absurd in the sense that its unpredictable, and we can't understand it based on anything that came before. It just does something out of the blue according to a probabilistic framework. But is that going to help with freedom? I mean, should our freedom be just a matter of probabilities, just some random swerving in a chaotic system? That starts to seem like it's worse. I'd rather be a gear in a big deterministic physical machine than just some random swerving.
So we can't just ignore the problem. We have to find room in our contemporary world view for persons with all that that entails. Not just bodies, but persons. That means trying to solve the problem of freedom, finding room for choice and responsibility, and trying to understand individuality.
(Guy with a bullhorn is driving through the city streets yelling)
You can't fight city hall. Death and taxes. Don't talk about politics or religion. This is all the equivalent of enemy propaganda rolling across the picket line. Lay down GI, lay down GI. We saw it all through the 20th century. And now in the 21st century, it's time to stand up and realize that we should not allow ourselves to be crammed into this rat maze. We should not submit to dehumanization. I don't know about you, but I'm concerned about what's happening in this world. I'm concerned with the structure. I'm concerned with the systems of control, those that control my life and those that seek to control it even more. I want freedom. That's what I want. And that's what you should want. It's up to each and every one of us to turn loose and show them the greed, the hatred, the envy, and yes, the insecurities, because that's the central mode of control. Make us feel pathetic, small, so we'll willingly give up our sovereignty, our liberty, our destiny. We have got to realize that we're being conditioned on a mass scale. Start challenging this corporate slave state. The 21st century is going to be a new century. Not the century of slavery, not the century of lies and issues of no significance, of classism, of sadism, and all the rest of the modes of control. It's going to be the age of human kind standing up for something pure and something right. What a bunch of garbage: liberal, democrats, conservative, republican, it's all there to control us, it's two sides of the same coin. Two management teams bidding for control, the CEO job of Slavery, Incorporated! The truth is out there in front of you, but they lay out this buffet of lies. I'm sick of it! And I'm not going to take a bite of it. Do you got me? Our existence is not futile. We're going to win this thing. Humankind is too, good. We're not a bunch of underachievers. We're going to stand up, and we're going to be human beings. We're going to get fired up about the real things, the things that matter, creativity and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit. Well that's it. That's all I got to say.
(Old man sitting at a table.)
The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness. And once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious. It bursts into a chain of affirmations that knows no limit. To say yes to one instant is to say yes to all of existence.
(Indian Krishnamurti type fellow)
The main character is what I call the mind, its mastery, it's capacity to represent. So obviously, attempts have been made to contain those experiences of jumping off the edge of the limit, where the mind is vulnerable. But I think we are in a very significant moment in history. Those moments of what I call liminal, limit, frontier, x-zone experiences are actually now becoming the norm. These multiplicities and distinctions and differences, that have given great difficulty to the old mind, are actually slowly entering into their very essence. Tasting and feeling their uniqueness, one might make a breakthrough to that common something that holds them together. And so the main character is to this new mind greater greater mind, a mind that yet is to be. And obviously, when we enter into that mode, you can see a radical subjectivity, a radical attunement to individuality, to uniqueness, to that which the mind opens itself to a vast objectivity. So the story is the story of the cosmos now. The moment is not just a passing empty nothing. And yet, this is the way in which these secret passages happen. Yes, it's empty with such fullness. The great moment, the great life of the universe, is pulsating in it, and each one, each object, each place, each act leaves a mark. And that story is singular. But in fact, it's story after story.
(Two women are having lunch)
Time just dissolves. It's like these particles are swirling away. Either I'm living fast, or time is, but never both simultaneously.
It's such a strange paradox. I mean, while technically I'm closer to the end of my life than I've ever been, I actually feel more than ever that I have all the time in the world. When I was younger, there was a desperation, a desire for certainty, like there was an end to the path and I had to get there.
I know what you mean, because I can remember thinking, oh, someday, like in my mid-thirties maybe, everything's going to just somehow gel and settle, just end. It was like there was this plateau and it was waiting for me, and I was climbing up it and when I got to the top, all growth and change would stop. Even exhilaration. That hasn't happened like that, thank goodness. I think that what we don't take into account when we're young is our endless curiosity. That's what's so great about being human.
Yeah. Do you know that thing Benedict Anderson says about identity?
Well, he's talking about like say a baby picture. So you pick up this picture, this two-dimensional image, and you say, "that's me." Well, to connect this baby and this weird little image with yourself living and breathing in the present, you have to make up a story. Like this was me when I was a year old, and then later I had long hair, and then we moved to Riverdale, and now, here I am. So it takes a story that's actually a fiction to make you and the baby in the picture identical, to create your identity.
And the funny thing is our cells are completely regenerating every seven years. We've already become completely different people several times over. And yet, we always remain quintessentially ourselves.
(There's a serious in a studio talking into a microphone. The words "NOISE AND SILENCE" appear on the screen)
Our critique began as all critiques begin. With doubt. Doubt became our narrative. Ours was a quest for a new story, our own. And we grasped toward this new history driven by the suspicion that ordinary language couldn't tell it. Our past appeared frozen in the distance and our every gesture and accent signified the negation of the old world and the reach for a new one. The way we lived created a new situation, one of exuberance and friendship, that of a subversive micro-society, in the heart of a society which ignored it. Art was not the goal but the occasion and the method for locating our specific rhythm and buried possibilities of our time. And discovering that true communication was what it was about, or at least the quest for such a communication, the adventure of finding it and losing it, we the unappeased, the unaccepting, continued looking, filling in the silences with our own wishes, fears and fantasies. Driven forward by the fact that no matter how empty the world seemed, no matter how degraded and used up the world appeared to us, we knew that anything was still possible, and given the right circumstances, a new world was just as likely as an old one.
("TO BEGIN AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING" appears on the screen.)
(A girl and a boy are sitting in a library)
What are you writing?
What's the story?
There's no story. It's just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told.
Are you in the story?
I don't think so. But then, I'm kind of reading it and then writing it.
(Main character is changing the channels on TV)
For I do not await the future anticipating salvation, absolution, not even enlightenment through process. I subscribe to the premise that this flawed perfection is sufficient and complete in every single ineffable moment.
The venerable tradition of sorcerers, shamans and other visionaries who have developed and perfected the art of dream travel, the so-called lucid dream state where by consciously controlling your dreams, you're able to discover things beyond your capacity to apprehend in your waking state.
A single ego is an absurdly narrow vantage from which to view this experience. And where most consider their individual relationship to the universe, I contemplate relationships of my various selves to one another.
While most people with mobility problems are having trouble just getting around, at age 92 Joy Cullison's out seeing the world.
(Main character sees a friend sitting in a chair.)
Hi, how's it going?
You know, they say that dreams are real only as long as they last, but couldn't you say the same thing about life? See, there's a lot of us that are out there mapping the mind-body relationships of dreams, we're called "_____ nauts." We're the explorers of the dream world. Really, it's just about the two opposing states of consciousness which don't really oppose at all. See, in the waking world, the neural system inhibits the activation of the vividness of memories. And this makes evolutionary sense. You'd be maladapted for the perceptual image of a predator if you mistook it for the memory of one, and vice-versa. If the memory of a predator conjured up a perceptual image, we would be running off to hide every time we had a scary thought. So you have these serotonic neurons that inhibit hallucinations and they themselves are inhibited during REM sleep. See, this allows dreams to appear real, while preventing competition from other perceptual processes. This is why dreams are mistaken for reality. To the functional system of neural activity that creates our world, there is no difference between dreaming a perception and action, and actually the waking perception and action.
(Main character is walking along the railroad tracks, beside a train. A guy jumps out of the train with a "Free Radio" t-shirt on)
Hey. You a dreamer?
I haven't seen too many around lately. Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, that no one does it anymore. But it's not dead, it's just been forgotten. Removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so no one knows it exists. The dreamer has been banished to obscurity. Well, I'm trying to change all that now, and I hope you are too. By dreaming every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced, so whatever you do, don't be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.
(Main character is walking with a thin looking boy, who gradually turns into a spaceman)
A thousand years is but an instant. There is nothing new, nothing different. Same pattern over and over. The same clouds, same music, the same as I felt an hour or an eternity ago. There´s nothing here for me now, nothing at all. Now I remember, this happened to me before, this is why I left. You have begun to find your answers. Although it will seem difficult the rewards will be great. Exercise your human mind as fully as possible knowing it is only an exercise. Build beautiful artifacts, solve problems, explore the secrets of the physical universe, savor the input from all the senses, feel the joy and sorrow, the laughter, the empathy, compassion, and tuck the emotional memory in your travel bag. I remember where I came from, and how I became human, and why I hung around - and now my final departure schedule. This way out. Escaping velocity. Not just eternity, but infinity.
(Main is character coming out of a subway and bumps into a girl.)
Hey, could we do that again? I know we haven't met, but I don't want to be an ant, you know. I mean, it's like we go through life with our antennaes bouncing off one another, continuously on ant auto-pilot with nothing really human required of us. Stop, go, walk here, drive there, all action basically for survival, all communications simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient polite manner. Here's your change. Paper or plastic? Credit or debit? Want ketchup with that? I don't want a straw, I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be an ant, you know.
Yeah, I know. I don't want to be an ant either. Ha ha. Thanks for kind of jostling me there. I've been kind of on zombie auto-pilot lately, I don't feel like an ant in my head, but I guess I probably look like one. It's like D.H. Lawrence had this idea of two people meeting on a road, and instead of just passing and glancing away, they decide to accept what he calls the confrontation between their souls. It's like freeing the reckless gods within us all.
Well, then, it's like we have met.
(They shake hands)