Wednesday, May 18, 2005

And then there was Neil Jordan's

So I finally got around to seeing Neil Jordan's version of the End of the Affair. While the 1955 version moved me, this one disturbed me. So I really do not know what I think of it.

It has talent galore, from Ralph Fiennes to Julianne Moore to Stephen Rea to Michael Nyman, whose Gattaca score helped make that film change my mind about a lot of things. The directing is also strong, so is the editing, etc. It is truly a well crafted film. And it has heart. And that is probably why I am so disturbed by it.

I sometime feel like my progression, my growth, as a human being, has been like a building rising from the ground, based on foundations that contradict each other, or at least seem to do so: Man's dominance over Nature, himself, and even his destiny vs. a higher being, a greater force, a god, God. That certain answers are to be found to any real problems vs. the ever-lingering uncertainty, about virtually anything and everything. The goodness of any living person vs. the horrible monstrocities that mankind continually spawns. Or, in short: good, evil, faith, atheism, certainty, doubt, hope, despair, anything is possible, and love conquers all. Off of these pillars, towers have risen, and I have tried to console them, bridge them, merge them into one coherent being, to make me whole, at peace, and not absorbed in internal conflicts and contradictions. Which is only natural, I guess. Trying to clear the lines. To get the shades of gray to fit into the black and white boxes. But every time I try to build a bridge across these divides, I just end up making the towers taller, and thus perhaps even shakier, not stronger. That is, I clarify and qualify my opinions. And then I fluctuate between them. One day I might be convinced that there can not be a higher being involved with the running of this mad, mad, mad world, at least not an intelligent or a compassionate one. And the next day I find that there has to be. One day I am unfazed by the ugliness of our times, certain that the good in men must prevail. The next day I am sure that this will all crash and burn, and that we are all going to hell. If one exists, that is.

I have said it before. I feel like I live my life in flames. That I am in a constant state of blazing, fiery flux of emotions, beliefs, and opinions. This fluidity may be confined to a rather limited set, but it is constant, and it is scorching. As opposed to the cool, somewhat simple, generally moderately conservative view of life that the majority of people seems to have adopted at my age. Conversely, my conflagrant consideration of the world does not seem to subside with age. I have found no conclusions, no rest, and find no end in sight. I remain searching, weary of the fact that I may never be able to find a dispassionate disposition in life.

All of which brings me back to Greene, and Jordan's adaptation of his End of the Affair. His protagonist is certainly darker than the anemic one in the 1955 version. He is angry, hateful, even vile. Somehow, I think he is closer to Greene's character, which he allegedly based on himself. He so detests the God that took his love from him that he makes him real, with his hate. Which surely is an argument. You may not like God, but if you dislike him enough, that means that you must belief he exists. Therefore, you may curse him for letting terrible things befall good people, you may hate him for allowing the innocent to be hurt, but that does not exclude you from believing in him. In fact, it might serve as an indication that you truly do believe that he exists, in some form. And then you could rationalize the second part of the equation, i.e. the apparent ill-will of God manifested in the ugliness he allows to fester, with the logical conclusion that if there really is a higher being of that caliber at work, he must be a order of magnitude more sophisticated being than you, and his reasons therefore too complicated for your puny brain to grasp.

But my gripe with God is a different one. I am like Thomas, who said he would not believe Jesus had risen from the dead unless he would "see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side". I am faced with this dilemma: I have faculties that allow me to discern what I believe to be true from false. These include among others: reason, deduction, my senses, and even my belief. But my leaps of faith are small and weak, and seldom prevail without corroborating evidence. And these tools of mine do not include a way to accept as true the existence of God. I cannot console myself to thinking of his existence as a fact. However, my stance is fluctuating, and I have found my corroborating evidence. Every time I look into my little girl's eyes, I can not help but be humbled. To see in this soul mirror something so complex, and yet so flawless. Someone of me, but still distincly a separate person. Somebody made from virtually nothing, but into this perfect being. A being so helpless, but one that at the same time rules my world. So I am left with wondering how can I not believe in God, a wonderful, kind, all-powerful entity? Even if he can also sometimes tear so inexplicably grimly at my heart.

Well, that settles it. Now I have to read the book.