Saturday, August 16, 2008

Clerks

Ages after having a thought to watch Kevin Smith’s Clerks, I finally got to watch it. This is after the Clerks 2 was released. Haven’t watched the sequel yet, but had lingered on two of his characters though, Jay & Silent Bob movie. Silent Bob being played by the maestro Kevin Smith himself.

This movie opens up with a garden variety theme, slapstick humour just to get you engaged with the characters & really makes you feel that there is not going to be anything more in this movie than meets the eye. The characters seem loosely drawn, the plot missing & all that.

What you fail to see is how quickly, amid all this laughing & giggling over stupid ass jokes, this movie could turn into a philosophical window into our very own growling egos. The characters Dante & Randall, two college graduates(maybe can’t afford to make it to grad school), work at a convenience store & a video rental parlor, respectively. Jobs involve the typical daily tripe, the customers, the monotony; et al. Dante is very serious about his job as a store clerk & does whatever it takes to make a decent attempt at running the store, Randall on the other hand is the Tyler Durden of store maintenance. He hates customers because they all annoy him & “they always rent the dumbest movie on the shelves, as if they have IQ’s the size of their shoes” (in his own words). Also, the stores being adjacent to one another, Randall locks his store up when there is no customer, & joins Dante in the convenience store to share a chat over worldly discussions on moral issues such as treating customers like trash & so on. The exchange between these two characters is insanely hilarious, but most often very deep & thoughtful.

Randall suddenly became my favorite character; he is the road-side philosopher. Dante is afraid of change & blames everything else in his life because he can’t do what he wants to do. In fact Dante is clueless as to what he wants to do, but finds the security & comfort of his clerk job more attractive to take a risk to venture outwards, towards education, a better job, a better life. The character is so starkly drawn as it becomes obvious later in the film that, he says a remarkable dialog about his inherent risk averseness & his inability to become a change agent, “when I was 3, I saw the toilet lid closed so I shit in my pants”. This sort of remarkable inability to face change has crossed my mind several times. I just didn’t look for it, I suppose. Taking the same train every morning trying to comfortably board the train & commute easily, masquerading under a false pretence of “preserving my dignity”. It all made sense to me while I watched this film. The comfortable commute, yes is desirable since I don’t just commute, I also read alongside. That is a better reason to take a train that’s comfortably filled rather than getting squished for no apparent reason at all. I tried to go back to my old self, the thoughts I had back at school. They are inconceivable now. Many things have changed since then, especially since I have read Ayn Rand. I had started taking a little more responsibility for my actions & my interactions with all the systems. But the trouble with that is, maybe, I have begun to take it for granted. That’s one of the main reasons Randall’s road-side philosophy made so much appeal to me.

Randall is a character in himself, designed for perfect humiliation. Who else can spit a mouthful of water on a customer’s face just to prove a moral point? Randall’s pragmatic approach towards life in general seemed a little hollow, since he was stuck at the same job & wasn’t doing much about it himself either (other than tormenting unsuspecting customers). But the character’s history isn’t shown as such, so the reasons will always remain unknown. Until now Tyler was my ideal choice for a conscience personality (a personality with whom you would like to debate with about your own philosophical/real world dilemmas). But since Clerks I have seriously begun to contemplate having Randall as my conscience personality. Yes, having such a personality for thought experiments is lame in itself, but that’s just the top of it ;). The point of contention here is that being afraid to change was not just a state of mind. In fact it had turned into a way of life living in Dombivli. That’s one of the main reasons I would love to get off this town the first chance I get. Again, the chance of moving out, is something I wait for, the inherent weakness of this thought itself symbolizes that I am waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen. I have many options which I can very easily use, if I wanted to, but the failure to commit a thought still lingers on. I don’t know if it’s genetic, inherent in all human beings, or am I just being paranoid about my instincts, but it is definitely for certain true that unless we step in and do something; the bystander gets no action.

I have noticed this same paradox of choice, in my volition to start investing. I know I have the basic skills to start investing (dubbed, I know 1+1 =2 & I know what is supposed to happen with the money once it is invested). I come up with all sorts of rationalizing arguments about why I shouldn’t invest just yet. I know I am not waiting for a right time I know I can start anytime I want since I have been reading more than average about the subject itself. But failure to begin may be a sign of slight inaction. I have counter arguments for it but they don’t do much help for the thought flow here. But I have also been doing things, which I wouldn’t normally do, under the circumstances mentioned. I wanted to start a book club & a movie club in my college, ideated, pitched, it hit the spot. Now in a matter of weeks, me, a professor & a bunch of guys would be the first ones to ever start a book club in my college. This will to do something came out of nowhere (so it seems), but I know where it came from. It came from the fact of reforming my thoughts about education, knowledge & how it is useless to just read & read & learn & learn & apparently fail to share. Failure to share my thoughts & knowledge was one of the major impediments in school, which I realized just while watching this stupid ass film. It’s simply unbelievable, how twisted & complicated this whole structure of memory & thought is, by picking a few strings, it creates a harmony of thoughts like none other.

In the end, Dante & Randall after a physio-philosophical fight, decided to clean up the store for the night, & decide to return to their same jobs next morning. I didn’t really want to find a indicator or a meaning for this scene, but it’s inevitable. The characters in the bout of rationality made the whole point of having the philosophical argument, but at the end of it all, they have accepted that, change however desirable, is inherently slow. The first thing that is necessary to steer a car in any direction is to turn the steering wheel slowly towards that direction until it seems the right turn. I believe, that’s the whole point, you need to steer the thoughts in the right direction until you actually steer yourself into the desirable direction, but the catch is, we never know when it’s right!!! :)

1 comment:

YY said...

hey, cool post! i have lived all my life in the same town, and i SOOO relate to the 'wanting to change but not really doing anything about it' part.

reminds me of those lyrics from dido's life for rent:
While my heart is a shield and I won't let it down
While I am so afraid to fail so I won't even try
Well how can I say I'm alive...