Resurrections of Mind

Returning from a local screening of Resurrect Dead at The Rose (Utah Film Center/Radio West), I thought about the two human stories it envelops, both mysteries, one of problem-solvers and friends, the other of enigmatic and solitary creation.  I was fascinated by the similarity between the Toynbee tile dicks and the nature of the mind they were tracking.

  In its representation of the mystery of human dignity, or rather of our respect for it, the film reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird. In its penetration of the bonds of friendship forged and strengthened by working together on a life-consuming obsession, it recalls American Movie, and the silent puzzle that influences others brought to mind Cool Hand Luke.

The respect and awe we must have for the human mind is a theme interwoven throughout Incognito by David Eagleton; and Marilynne Robinson’s lectures sparkle with it in her Absence of Mind: the dispelling of inwardness from the modern myth of the self (2010 Yale)

“Whoever controls the definition of mind controls the definition of humankind itself, and culture, and history,” Robinson declares.

In my own classroom this week students have undertaken to solve mysteries of their own as they embark on multi-genre research papers which promise incredible journeys. Those that probe the human mind have my fullest attention at the moment. One student is interested in multiple personality disorder, another is discovering the relationship between her own Asperger Syndrome and autism. The self-discovery inherent in any worthwhile search will yield dividends long after our “5 genres – 5 pages – 5 weeks” are over.

In films, reading, and writing that explore human dignity, I am forced (or nudged) toward sympathy with others, reminded that I share far more with all other human beings than I usually acknowledge. For two classes, I am an anonymous correspondent with other teacher and student participants on both The Fountainhead and human sexuality, in which by the nature of the readings we confront questions of ultimate reality. Together we investigate mysteries whose solutions may reawaken our compassion;  even as we head into the season of Lent, readings in Paula Huston resurrect the desert fathers and call me to a blend of the solitary and the social.

Films as divers as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox and Midnight in Paris can highlight the dangerous beauty of mental escapes and creative genius. Most of all, I like that they reveal us humans to ourselves – at our most lovable and strange.


1 Response to “Resurrections of Mind”

  1. 1 Sara Z
    February 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    I think this is my favorite of your writings here yet. Thanks for these thoughts.

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