Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Brief Meditation

Had an interesting, abbreviated experience at the movies last night. Two friends had invited me along to dinner and then a showing of Into Great Silence at Film Forum. If you don't know Into Great Silence, it's a nearly three-hour-long, mostly silent documentary about a Carthusian monastery in the French Alps. If you don't know Film Forum, it's a theater in the West Village where you're still all-too-capable of having an experience like this one:

Being in need of anything resembling peaceful meditation these days, I thought it would be...well, if not fun, then restorative. After a long day, though, I was falling asleep on the train down there, and had to be convinced by my company to give it a shot. Sit for 20 minutes, they said. If you don't like it or you're too tired, leave.

After those 20 minutes, I was too tired to really know if I liked it, so I ducked out. There was another problem besides fatigue. I had read that this was the type of movie you had to see on the big screen. Two issues with that: 1. Film Forum's screen isn't really all that big. 2. Think about it. "Into great silence" isn't exactly synonymous these days with "into a movie theater." The crowd was mostly polite, but the movie is so quiet, so fully based on total concentration, that every innocent shuffle of a foot sounded like the launch of the Space Shuttle. For someone like me, who cringes with each crinkle of a candy bar wrapper, and is generally neurotic and irritable around strangers, this was unacceptable. (I hide that irritation very well, by the way, which might even compound the problem. But let's not turn this into a session on the couch.) I'm fully on board with the idea of purposeful meditation. I've even dabbled ever so lightly in it. But I don't think it's a practice best exercised in the company of a few dozen film snobs.

I'll put it on my Netflix list.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That stuff is way overrated. If you want meditative, watch Robert Bresson. Anything by Robert Bresson.

3:17 PM  

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