Monday, January 19, 2009


I have been watching movies all my life, but I only asked this now, for no apparent reason,
‘Why do I like films which circle around personal conversations?’

The camera seems to be hovering around the two characters, following them through time just to observe that connection of the minds. The camera is not judgmental about what the conversation entails; it just follows dispassionately & allows the subjects to get passionately involved into each other’s minds, making even the silence seem less awkward.

I think the question I ought to ask myself is, ‘What do I find so appealing in other people’s conversations?’ I am not even sure if that’s the right question. But yes, that has been a trend. I may have rationalized my opinion over the years to like such an uninteresting thing, no activity, no movement, just actors wasting precious screen time walking around & talking. I believe that the ability of cinema, the actors, the story, the director & finally the cinematographer to capture this almost divine moment is something that should not be missed. Probably the most important evolutionary force which keeps the human race together, the idea that there is someone somewhere who wants to listen to what I have to say, would respond to it with the same passion or the same intellectual capacity as I would respond to my own thoughts. I have noticed the phrase ‘meeting of the minds’ so often that I had begun to perceive it as a cliché. But it isn’t, although however corny it sounds, for lack of better words, it is still the sort of thing that keeps us from being sociopaths. This is the juice that helps me realize the only connecting link between me & any other human roaming on the planet.

I take myself back in time picturing the earliest humans, hunting & gathering, living on everything that they can have only at that moment. There is only this slight concern about the future & what it holds, although they are stripped off their material urges & are there in that very moment. What excuse other than a physical intimacy would their over developed brains have, to stay with each other? What incentive other than passing their genes to the next generation could their being together possibly express? None, if looked upon from nature’s point of view, but a lot if seen from a social lens. Staying together, has to have some incentive; & to make it bearable, there was conversation. The stage was already set; we had evolved into beings which used their brains for far more complicated mental functions than nature had allowed us before. These brains evolved language, apparently (just to speculate) as an alternative form of expression other than physical expression.

A conversation is almost like a non-zero sum game. My thoughts induce your thoughts & your thoughts induce mine. It is a self-energizing engine, where each stimulates the other conversing mind. I believe that this activity is hard coded in our brains over millions of years of cultural evolution, that we hardly ever notice it, let alone extract it out of our daily lives.

A conversation is a duel between minds exploring the limits of each other’s thoughts, learning what the other mind is capable of discerning. It doesn’t have to be verbal; it can also be signs, expressions, and body movements. There is no language to thought, but only for its expression. When two minds find themselves in a situation where they confront each other’s primary function, thought, every pattern of movement exhibited by the opposite body becomes a variable in that equation. Every action, word, sign, expression adds up to the mathematical reality of that moment. If this exchange is sufficient to engage both the minds, then they become oblivious of the surroundings & get consumed in the expression.

Kids exhibit this more readily than adults, since they haven’t yet learned the ability to mask their boredom. The only reason the kids unadulterated mind will pay any attention to a conversation is that pre-historic urge which allows it the liberty to try & understand the mind that is trying to speak with it. If the speaking mind doesn’t allow the kid’s mind to engage in self reflection & ask itself ‘if this was something that will be useful to me’, then the interest in the speaking mind fades away. I say “useful” in the previous sentence not in its garden variety meaning, but as an idea which makes me think about my own thoughts or actions in someway or the other. It doesn’t always have to be materially significant, but something that tells me more about myself, which I didn’t already know.

There are so many small moments in a film where the actors don’t speak with each other at all, yet they converse with their bodies & their dialogs are louder than their words could have ever been. I had never understood the urge of expressionism in us. Why do we always want to project ourselves to everyone? Those blogs, those books, those films, those poems, those paintings, those conversations, what do they all signify? What made us change the evolutionary mold & get out of our primal desires to procreate, live eternally through our offspring to engaging in these secondary forms of living?

1 comment:

Julia Scissor said...

These secondary forms of living set us apart from the rest of the living world, don't they?