Monday, January 28, 2013

Overthinking : The Life of Pi

So some folks strongly recommended seeing the Life of Pi, and it got me curious since essentially everyone who watched it managed to turn their pseudo-reviews into moments of self-reflection for some reason. I haven't read the book but I kept seeing folks choosing between the endings (which I tried really hard to keep unspoiled until I saw it).

Anyway, something crossed my mind before seeing the film - so I scribbled it down just in case. Gut feel, as they say.

One ending would probably appeal to faith, and the other would appeal to reason.

Two hours later, I was staring at the same note - dumbfounded.

I guess it's an allegory to human nature with regards to trying to understand our place in the universe. People can choose to believe in the fantastic (and in some cases the absurd), or one can choose to stick to what is rational and empirical. 

On Mixing and Matching

Pi's views on religion are interesting - he saw greater meaning in mixing and matching what he felt were the better aspects of different religions rather than blindly sticking to one. While I don't necessarily fully agree with him, I've always felt that one of the true purposes of religion was for a person to find some semblance of meaning where none can be seen - or understood. As sapient beings, people tend to fear the chaos and emptiness they see when they look at how vast the universe is (compared to how alone and powerless humanity is in the grand scheme of things) so they tend to run to whatever keeps them sane at night - the idea of a higher being that provides a sense of providence, or that of reason that attempts to mold chaos into something comprehensible albeit less magical. Those who don't, sadly, turn primal or something. 

On the Endings

As much as I'd like to say something referencing Occam's Razor, it's impossible. Maybe neither choice is wrong. Asking someone to choose between the stories is mostly a rhetorical question. Ultimately, both stories had no bearing on answering the question of what sank the ship. Both stories had parallels and both stories were subjected to a single storyteller's subjective interpretation. Pi could have been telling the truth for one, both or none of the stories - the integrity of his word was, for the most part, unchallenged.

Like practically what everyone said - choose the first, believe the second. We would likely choose whatever is most convenient for us to swallow. In the end, it's the same story.

And In As Much as I Hate Writing About Faith

A few months ago, I went with a college friend to a classmate's birthday and we had a bit of time to talk thanks to the city's traffic. At some point, our conversation managed to drift to personal philosophies in life (because we're boss) and I found out that the friend went atheistic in the span of a few years. This surprised me, because I was under the impression that the person was one of those unshakeable types (and from where I studied, religion - not faith, sadly - was serious business). I never bothered to ask what swayed his opinion, since I'd hate to be the one who digs up buried memories - as I've regrettably done a few times before.

Personally, I have nothing against any belief system as long as it respects individual freedoms.

There's just something unsettling about believing in a higher power out of fear, or doing what is right out of expectation of a reward (spiritual or otherwise). There is nothing more self-serving than pushing human ideals in the guise of veneration. There is nothing more backwater than the thought of stifling human potential because of the misled reservations of a select few - especially if said few have no stake in it.

And there is nothing more fucked up than being taught to be afraid of whatever is supposed to grant people their salvation.

After all, I've always had the notion that people should always have a journey of discovering their place in the world first (whether they resort to faith, reason or both is inconsequential), then using that sense of value to uplift everything else (as long as it is reasonable).

So yeah, I can't be a saint.

No comments:

Post a Comment