Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Shadow vs. Light of Media and the Act of Free Will

"Most people live life on the path we set for them, too afraid to explore any other. But once in a while people like you come along who knock down all the obstacles we put in your way. People who realize free will is a gift that you'll never know how to use until you fight for it. I think that's the chairman's real plan. That maybe one day, we won't write the plan, you will." 
– Character, Harry Mitchell from the movie, The Adjustment Bureau.

This is a powerful statement – perhaps the single most enlightening piece of narrative from the 2011 film, The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Mackie (Harry Mitchell).

One might question the “we” Mitchell is speaking of, or you might ask, “Just who is the chairman?”

As much as we may desire to know who or what may be pulling the strings of life, sending us on a predictable path away from free will, perhaps this matters less than how we ascertain the meaning of free will and moreover, how we ignite it.

Media and particularly the art and science of film-making: telling stories, conveying messages, and shaping culture, has arguably been the single most influential catalyst in creating our worldview – our reality, whether positively or negatively.  With this influence in mind, free will is often forfeited for the trap of projected images. 

Many have pointed out that the lure of Hollywood film and its spell-binding ability to draw the viewer in, has culminated in the forza primaria of social engineering.

Alternative researcher Alan Watt had this to say about the “spell of film” and its massive implications:

“Hollywood is the magician's wand which has been used to cast a spell on the unsuspecting public. Things or ideas which would otherwise be seen as bizarre, vulgar, undesirable or impossible are inserted into films in the realm of fantasy. When the viewer watches these films, his/her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins. These same movies which are designed to program the average person, can give the discerning viewer a better understanding of the workings and the plan of the world agenda. Be aware.”

In a recent interview with producer, film historian, and new media expert Randall Libero, we explored the idea of both shadow and light in film and how depending on the level of conscious awareness of the viewer, the impact of what has been watched will be determined.  Libero reminds us that it is each individual’s decision as to whether they will use film as an escape from their own reality or to view it objectively with a discerning but detached observation.  Either way, the message must be seen for what it is – a story – not yours, but someone else’s.  And from his perspective, we would do well to understand the importance of this demarcation.

In my interview with Randall, I posed the question of the continuum of consciousness – the idea that whatever we are experiencing, including the movie we are watching is in some way a continuum of our own consciousness.  “Wouldn’t this philosophy of detachment fly in the face of a connected Universe?” I asked.  Libero points out that although this may be true – that all things are fundamentally connected, it is absolutely important to learn the art of being present, to be aware of your surroundings and not allow the outside world, whether in art, media or the person you are speaking with, fully draw you in.  This is where we can get lost in a maze of messages and essentially stumble off the path of free will.  He says, “When you go to a museum and you look at a piece of art, you don’t get sucked into the art.  You’re still aware that you’re in a room and that you’re walking around.  Your feet are on the floor or you’re sitting on a bench.  You can experience the art and feel what the artist was saying emotionally, but at the same time you’re not losing yourself.  Why can’t it be the same way when you’re watching a movie?”

This begs a much larger question – the act of viewing art in a gallery let’s say, which is represented as a static image.  It may be far easier to not get “sucked in” to the visual image than it is when you’re experiencing a motion picture.  The lure of characters playing out a story, the emotional pull that is so often skillfully invoked and in many cases the relate-ability of the viewer with the character(s) on some level, even if subconsciously, makes for a much stronger draw into the film and away from the act of being present.

Motion pictures are notoriously skillful at imploring an emotional resonance with the viewer.  Feelings of sadness, anger, passion, and fear are depicted by the characters.   These fundamental emotions can all be related to on some level by the viewer.  When you put emotions into a context that includes powerful sound effects, dramatic music or even hell-raising violence, the emotional pull is magnified multifold and potentially more effective!

Nonetheless, when one can master the act of desensitizing from that which they are viewing, whereby still getting a full experience of the film, much more can be gleaned from its message.  For instance, shadow and light can be experienced from an entirely different perspective – an objective vision.  Then one can choose which portions of the message, if any, can serve as a catalyst for greater consciousness and the rest can be willfully left behind.

Randall contends that this is a far more preferable way to go – staying present and conscious throughout.  And it is in this light that we can recognize and even distill the purpose of shadow and light as represented in many Hollywood films while not becoming a part of its psychological landscape.

David Norris played by Matt Damon is interrogated by the
Adjustment Bureau and ordered to stay on their plan.
In the Adjustment Bureau, shadow and light both play a starring role.  We watch as orders are carried out from the chairman to cause accidents, change routes and even mind-wipe unsuspecting individuals.  What are clearly seen as nefarious and dastardly acts – feats of wizardry not known to the general populace, are instead invoked to ensure that the individuals being intercepted stay on a planned life path – a path not determined by the individuals but by the chairman himself.

The idea of free will and what it truly means has been debated by philosophers, theologians and lay people alike.  For it has been said that “freedom is not free.”  Freedom carries a cost, if nothing more than the responsibility and courage needed to turn your back on what has been offered to you (including the film that you’re watching).   Rather it is more important to glean the messages for yourself that can be used to enrich, evolve and empower you.  This is also an expression of what it means to be consciously sovereign.

Now let’s revisit the Alan Watt quote in which he said, “Hollywood is the magician's wand which has been used to cast a spell on the unsuspecting public…. When the viewer watches these films, his/her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins.”  What is key here is that there is an assumption that the average movie go-er is not conscious and not aware of his/her surroundings but has allowed the movie and its plot to take over their consciousness, thus “casting the spell.”  This is a choice that one makes each and every time they decide to view a film, whether at home or in a movie theatre.

Sadly, unconscious viewing is so prevalent today that it isn’t even recognized by the percipient as such.   It may be with this understanding that the average person is pre-disposed to getting lost in the film, and for a variety of reasons, that has been so effective in programming the mind to follow a given path, rather than creating their own (free will).

Ironically, it is within the Hollywood film, The Adjustment Bureau that seems to spell out an identical significance – that despite the intentions of “others” to set the course for you, essentially telling you what is or isn’t possible in life, it is those who dare to challenge the template and create their own path, despite the odds, who will finally know what it means to be free.  This takes the conscious and aware individual – one who stays alert to the messages and can determine their own meaning.  This is the subjective journey!

Paradoxically, it may be plausible that the aim of the Universe is to put stumbling blocks along ones path –  disguised as the architects of some Hollywood films, media and other systematic culture (i.e. the chairman), to push us toward walking the path of free will and thus write our own plan! 

Either way, free will is our choice, and once realized, what an exhilarating choice it will be!

Alexis Brooks is the best-selling author of Conscious Musings - Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential and is the host of the popular  Conscious Inquiry Radio program, exclusively presented by Conscious Life News.  Visit Alexis on FacebookTwitter and YouTube!

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