Thursday, September 17, 2009

I am not a piano key

This video clip comes from the movie, The Truman Show, which critiques a man’s human existence. In the movie, Truman (played by Jim Carey) stars in his own reality television show, yet he doesn’t realize he’s even playing a role. Since he was a baby, a camera has secretly followed Truman’s every action till his current state of a middle age man. The people of the community played the part of supporting actors, while the producers set up scenes that have shaped his life. A few examples include losing his father in a boating accident, where he works, the wife that he married etc. Finally, Truman begins to catch onto the role-playing and the seemingly odd coincidences that occur.

In this scene, his actions seem to parallel our discussion on Dostoevsky. Throughout Truman’s life, he has been played like a piano key. He has followed the exact life that has been placed before him. Once he begins to realize, he is not the one actually making his decisions, but rather they are being made with an audience in mind, he finds a way to not let that happen by employing the most advantages advantage- free will. It is a moment of recognition that he is no longer going to play by the rules, but rather act according to his own motives.

I feel this movie offers a good visual of the exact thing Dostoevsky was trying to defy. What stayed in my mind even after class discussion was his quote from the book, “I am not a piano key.” How often do we act according to how we are suppose to act rather than what we want to do? For Truman, this had been a life experience and when he looked around he realized that is exactly what everyone had done as well. When he begins to go against everyone else, he becomes the only real human throughout the movie. He will not be the calculable object. The remaining part of the movie follows a little like the beginning of the scene- driving in a circle, making a turn, and being stopped in a traffic jam, yet he fights against the grain.

This movie made me first question how often do we experience this kind of realization that things are not as they always appear? How often do we go about doing things, because we feel we are supposed to? Finally, what does it take for us to realize we are making our decisions based on universal truth rather than our own free will?

1 comment:

  1. Sort of the same questions came to mind for me as well. I feel like the line between making decisions based on a universal truth versus making a decision on our own free will is imperceptible to us as conditioned beings. We have been raised in a society that is so entrenched in universal truths that they become part of our own will. For an extreme and rough example, I feel like I'm using my own free will when I decide to not kill someone (because I don't want to), but really, I'm just going along with universal morals and truths. And I don't want to kill anyone, but is that only because I've been told it's something we shouldn't do or because I really don't want to?


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