Wednesday, October 9, 2013

altruism versus the common good

well, here i am again, wondering how i can save the world before i shuffle off it. my friend jim feels it's a hopeless cause. digging our own graves, imitating the dinosaurs, ultimately unable to deal with the very climate changes we've caused.

in the immense what am i to do? i think, if i can make someone's life better, that's enough. i send money to my sister, expose people to museums, ancient artifacts, faces in the clouds. ultimately, i feel it all depends on imagination. is that what i'm best at?

of course, i'd like to be woody allen. last night i watched his latest 'jasmine' and i came home disappointed. i wanted the heroine to be saved, changed, uplifted. alas, she ends up on a park bench in san francisco, talking to herself, mulling over everything that's gone wrong: her husband's affairs and suicide.

the best scene in the movie probably where she's telling her two young boys what cracked her up. they sit wild-eyed with amazement. here the older generation certainly passing along a lesson, even as she says, 'remember, wealth brings responsibility', insisting they devoted a lot of the money they stole to charity.

and this morning i have to admit, there's a moral to the story. she insists all the way through she didn't know about her husband's double-dealings. actually, she looked the other way, for in the end in fit of jealousy, she turns him into the FBI. when she finds her estranged son, he says 'i know all about that phone call.' ultimately, that call caused his father's death by hanging.

earlier she tells her sister and friends, 'hanging doesn't choke you, it snaps your neck.' kate blanchett reiterates this statement two or three times, making it grim to contemplate. here, without question, is a haunted women who basically deserves what she gets.

what has this to do with me? i keep thinking, 'i should help orphans.' yes, my sister was an orphan so i'm helping one, but is that enough? i keep thinking of the wonderful photographer Tina Modotti who gave up her art to abscond to russia from mexico in order to promote a cause. it led to her sad ending, and her photographs have done more than all the speeches and washing dishes.

here i am in the middle of change, about to come down off the mountain like zarathustra. what am i to do now? he eventually ran back up that slope as quick as he could. nietzsche or woody allen or changing diapers. it's a tough choice.