Saturday, 20 March 2010
Hello! I'm back online, finally. Be warned, this will be a long post, I have much to tell.
I've been asked to give a small lecture on the film Into the Wild later on in the year, and I have to say, it has won its way into my heart. If you don't know the story behind this film, which follows the life story of Christopher McCandless, then click here.
I've read much about people's opinions of what Christopher has done, some who admire him, others who think he was silly, or perhaps had a death wish. Despite the utter irrationality of his actions and the events that led to his death, I cannot help but identify with him and understand his perspective. And I don't think this is naive romanticism.
When I was watching the film, all I could think of was transcendence, transcendence, transcendence. I think that ultimately, that's all he wanted. To transcend. We tend to approach people who adopt a more philosophical perspective on life and society in a rather condescending manner these days. We have lost that ability to approach romanticism as anything other than childish innocence. Or, perhaps more correctly, to view innocence as distinct from naivety. I think there is a difference. There are forms of innocence which hard, rather than soft, that are aware, rather than blind. It's a type of innocence that experiences cynicism and disillusionment and then decides to go the other way.
Those were the thoughts that were running through my mind as I was watching this film, transfixed, and unbelieving at the sheer intensity of his short life. That being said, I don't think we should romanticise him as somebody distinct from ourselves. What is fascinating and ultimately moving about him, is the extent to which he was vulnerable and permeable to human fallacies, like everyone else. I don't admire him, I empathise with him, and I wish he could have done more.
I would love to hear what you think about this film and about the story behind it.
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On another note, thank you so much for your kind comments about my graduation! You are all so sweet. I'm not going to be posting any photos of the graduation online, mainly because my friends and family would not appreciate having their photos splashed for the world to see. However, if you would like to have a peek at me in my full regalia, click here. I had an unfortunate accident on the day of the graduation, which resulted in a slightly swollen chin, but luckily, it doesn't look too bad in the photos.
Despite the lack of photos, I'm more than willing to divulge the details of the graduation in writing. It was such a night of contrasts, moving from formalities and trying to remember things like how I'm supposed to walk across the stage, doff my hat, shake hands with the various important people, smile to the camera, and then the huge sense of relief and relaxation afterwards. The highlight of the night for me was taking off the formal gown, driving to the top of King's Park, and having cake and wine with my friends and family.
Thanks again everyone, I feel as if you've all been through this PhD-process along with me, and the graduation marked the final step.