Sunday, November 19, 2006

epistemological roulette

Seems that everything I’m reading these days, and all the films I’m viewing, have chaos as their subtext. Of course, if you’ve been following the posts on this blog, you’ll note that chaos has been a recurring theme for yours truly as well.

On Friday I eagerly ventured downtown for the first showing of “Little Children,” the Todd Fields movie based on the novel of the same title by Tom Perrotta. Much of what resonated for me in this film had to do with the notion of desire and boundaries. Not just sexually, either.

When I think about moving forward, whether in romantic conquests or professional ones, there is always this foggy middle ground where projection, myth, presumption and fear reside. So many of our obstacles are visible only to us. We tell ourselves stories to keep from falling off the ledge.

Last weekend I found myself at an impromptu party: small space, lots of warm bodies, free-flowing wine. Set up for moral depravity, if ever there was one. The collective of folks in attendance were all, seemingly, at huge crossroads, considering personal epistemologies. Out of nowhere a snippet of George Eliot found its way into my hands. A Xeroxed copy of a passage from The Mill on the Floss. Something about “the great problem of the shifting relation between passion and duty.” Going after what you want, versus remaining duty-bound to that which you have pledged.

At the party, truth looked like, “Who I am is someone who lives life on her own terms, in defiance of maxims and in defiance of the common script.” But by Sunday (always the Sabbath we review and regret) small tendrils formed and reinstalled the framework. The cast of characters returned: projection courting fear building to resignation. Life on one’s own terms is fine, long as the kids have their cereal, and the leaves are raked into piles, and all the recycling is out at the curb by garbage day.

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