Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Being and Thought

 All the dragons are dead. They died centuries ago.

Enter, Melancholia.

Lars Von Trier's newest cinematic effort has perhaps the most intriguing premise of all his films, and yet, is the hardest to concentrate on when in fact it reveals itself. In candor, I admit I found myself somewhere fastened between numb thoughtlessness and lapses of sheet boredom as the thin story saw itself through to something of a justifiable stopping point.

If taken as a story about plot, about motion, about the collisions of masses, then the film is a failure. For most of my viewing expedition I rendered my experience of the film as just that, a failure.

But the mere thought of dragons have reconciled me once more.
I should explain.

Last week I found myself in a verifiable debate with a young, rambunctious Slovenian chap in the mountainous confines of the town of Trenta, the place from which my fiancee claims her 'Slovene parents'. I was inquiring of the lad why nearly every culture throughout history has some sort of dragon lore. The boy lobbied back with the return question,

What does it matter whether dragons are real or not?

I was dumbfounded. Who would ask such a question? Of course it mattered, dammit! But the boy continued to pontificate. He spoke of the line between dragons living in reality or living merely in imagination as remarkably thin and rather unsubstantive.


Enter again, Melancholia. We are witnesses to the inevitable and oncoming collision of another world colliding with our own. This is no Armageddon or Deep Impact. There is no daring escape. There is no last minute salvation. This is Von Trier. So what follows is the study of discoordinated people. Moreover, our attention most clearly lies with a woman who suffers from some deep demon of depression. For her, whether it be her psychosis or a cataclysmic event, it doesn't matter; it's the end of the world.

This is where we can be snookered. We can be deftly led to believe that perception is reality.

I write these words here because we know deep down that reality is something greater, something beyond the scope of mere imagination. This is true because we invent dreams and visions, while the Lord has created reality. Our devices are merely artistic renderings of the physical. Shadows. We make shadows.

When we confuse shadows for substance, we confuse ourselves and follow dark paths. I've been reading through Metaxas' biography of Bonhoeffer, and the obscene craziness of the Third Reich. The only way any of us can fathom that masquerade is if we examine it with something of a comical lens -- meaning, an air of incredulity. While reading about the madness of King Hitler, it strikes me as some sort of Shakespearean ballad, wherein the good guys keep losing to the myriads of poisoned-minded crowds. In Hitler, a nation learned to exchange truth and substance, for dreams and illusions.

When we say that the dragons of reality don't matter, then we undermine God's creation, by stating that our own sub-creations of thought are just as eternal. They are not.

My friends, if God created dragons, then they are a something to be marveled at for generations. If they are merely an invention of the mind's imagination, then I'll just let Game of Thrones deal with them. They kill everybody off on that show anyway.


  1. I always hasten to mark things with a "postmodern" label... but how "postmodern". The question is no longer if it is true or not, because I doubt if it has any relevancy on my day-to-day life. Ouch. Heavy stuff.

    1. With my old age I think I'm becoming a curmudgeon towards postmodernism. I am leaning towards viewing it as a tool more useful for informing me about how people make decisions than it is for helping me see God.