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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Grey And God And..... דער שׂטן

I watched the film The Grey again. This was the second time, and I could pay closer attention to details of its inspiration and building.
In the IMDb, the is a synopsis and a comment:

In Alaska, a team of oil workers board a flight home; however, they cross a storm and the airplane crashes. Only seven workers survive in the wilderness and John Ottway, who is a huntsman that kills wolves to protect the workers, assumes leadership of the group. Shortly after they learn that they are surrounded by a pack of wolves and Ottway advises that they should seek protection in the woods. But while they walk through the heavy snow, they are chased and attacked by the carnivorous mammals.
Written by Claudio Carvalho
... When it comes to issues of faith and the will to survive, that's when "The Grey" really jumps up and above the bar for its genre. The story is told in such a way that when people die, it's not for our entertainment, but to highlight the unpredictable nature of ... nature, and life and death. As Ottway wrestles with these same issues, its Neeson's performance that makes it hit home...
In the final minutes, Liam Neeson's Ottway character yells to the skies that now is that time when divinity - if there be anything divine in this feral universe - show itself to him... for he is at that point the very last man standing.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a thought in Latin in my head and no scrap of paper nearby, so I scribbled it down on a Yiddish copy of Isaac Singer's    דער שׂטן אין גאָרייַ
(Satan In Goray) which has been on my night stand
all this brutal winter:

and on the back I wrote:

illi credentes mortui sunt;
currentes cum Deo vivunt.

which translates as Those who believe are dead; those running with God are alive.

Now this is probably heresy to half the population, but it underscores the difference between Language: talking about, having a belief system, arguing, etc.  and the real fact of Being-in-the-world.

Liam Neeson's Ottway was very much alive and in a terrible world. He sought a word or a sign, as we have all been taught since childhood. When people are killed in The Grey, this does not serve to highlight "the unpredictable nature of ... nature, and life and death.

When we met these men at the beginning, they were workers after hours getting drunk in a bar and having fistfights. Later in the film, the character Diaz says that his life was meaningless and depraved.
It was not life. It was the coarse-grained simulacrum of life reserved for minorities and marginalized and those who are meek and not blessed.

Ottway believed enough to cry out to God.

But, as the Grey head-wolf awaited him minutes later, Ottway lived beyond belief.....

He became a totem animal....

He placed glass vials and bottles and sharp metals between his fingers, then bound his hands tightly with bands, forming mortal claws with which to combat the Grey. Then he turned and leaped into the fray.....

So-o-o-o, this morning I find Netanyahu has 30 seats in the Knesset, and will probably form a government devoted to apartheid.

Unless.... unless... Mr. Netanyahu forgets his own bio, and leaps into life and finds some precious jewel which has escaped the eyes of the rest of us.

If not, then there is a point when historical parallels take over, and we become totemistic figures.


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