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A World of Opinions

Photo: Shutterstock

in Filmmaking
on Nov 20, 2016

I got back from Loving the other night and there was an email from the online site where I bought the ticket. The site was asking me what I thought of the movie. But I didn’t really have an opinion. I didn’t feel one way or another about it. Which was kind of a relief. To not have an opinion. But more and more these days, our opinion is being requested. If you go out to a restaurant, you’re encouraged to Yelp about it. If you’re not on Twitter, people say, why aren’t you on Twitter? And then you look on Twitter, and it’s 99 percent people tweeting their opinions. Their opinions about everything. Their opinions about nothing. And it’s endless. Everyone is an authority. Everyone has a judgement. Everyone has a stance. And rare is the tweet where someone says, “I don’t know. I don’t know if cops are bad. I don’t know if Casey Affleck gave a great performance. I don’t know if LeBron is the best player in the world. I don’t know if the apocalypse is imminent. I don’t know where the indisputably greatest place is for fish tacos. I don’t know if I love National Public Radio. I don’t know. I don’t have an opinion.” That’s what we don’t really see online. And maybe we don’t even hear it much in the street anymore, in conversation: “I don’t know.”

We’ve all had moments where we are free of our opinions. Maybe it’s after waking up from a deep nap. And you look around the room. And you don’t try to grasp at the room. Like, grasp by saying to yourself, I’m in this apartment, in Oakland, on this street, at this time, and it’s dark, or it’s bright, and it’s day, or it’s night, and I like it, or I don’t like it. No. For a moment there is none of that. It’s just the mystery, without superimposition. Without our packing the mystery into a little conceptual idea that we can adjust and turn around and show off at parties and keep in our iPhone and generally use as a way to cling to our self. For a moment, there is none of that. We don’t know. Which can be bewildering. But also, freeing.

The more there’s an emphasis on having an opinion, the more we lose touch with the mystery. We forget that everything we encounter is a mystery. We forget how to be with that. We get less and less comfortable with being with the mystery, and more and more comfortable with flicking an imputation at whatever we meet. So then we go thru our day knowing what is good and what is bad and who to run to and who to run from and… We miss it. We miss the unpredictable, unknowable, ambiguous quality of all things. We don’t see things as they are because we are forming opinions all the time. You can feel it in a movie theater now. People are watching the screen, and writing their review about the movie(either in their head or on their actual phone) as the movie is happening. But the movie was never really seen.

The computer seems to want us to have an opinion. That seems to be what a computer understands. A fixed, rigid viewpoint. You liked this movie, so now you’ll like this movie. You liked Truffaut, so here’s some Godard. Maybe the more we assert our certain opinions, the more we become the computer. The more we become binary, and dualistic, and think we’re separate from each other.

Trumpees reject the coasts, coasts push away the Trumpees, but still we can’t quite outrun our own shadow. That part of our personality we don’t like and don’t identify in our self. The computer assures us that this part of our personality is outside of us. And then our opinions are stacked up and made into a concrete wall.

But there is that part of us, still, that is beyond our opinions. And the computer will never grasp it. It’s ungraspable. So, anyways, I didn’t give a rating to Loving. I guess that website will just have to go on without me. It will have to go find another opinion to feed on. Actually, I probably have already expressed too many opinions here. Sorry. Over and out.

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