Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Myself I've Always Preferred The Number 19.

Meters swum today: 1500
Playing in the background: John Denver's "Calypso" (5th time through!)

So I saw a really interesting movie last night. I can't say as it was a good movie but it certainly held my attention. It's called The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey. I didn't know the guy could do a serious part ; he's forever stuck in my head as "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective," holding onto a sliding glass door and opening and closing it while he, uh, yelled really loud. (I guess you had to be there.) By the way, if you see this movie on DVD, watch the unrated version. A whole lot more kinky sex. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, Walter Sparrow (named after my cat?) finds a scrappy self-published book called "The Number 23" that seems to be based on his life. The number 23 of course appears multiple times as some kind of cursed or evil number that directs your life and, I dunno, haunts you or something. Walter becomes obsessed with the book and things rapidly deteriorate. I wouldn't dream of spoiling it for you but let's just say there's a creepy old haunted hospital, a madman, a dingy hotel room, a couple of dead people and a wife who knows something but won't tell. Again, I'm not sure it's a good movie but it's very effective. It's one of the best examples I've seen of nothing making sense until the very end and then everything falling together all at once, ala M. Night Shymawarmarrrrgh when he's being good.

Here's one of the "oh, wow, this writer is awesome" moments that won't give everything away: The whole adventure starts when a dog tag (Walter is an animal control officer) reflects up into Walter's face. Why is that significant? Well, toward the end of the movie something else reflects up into his face, and when it happens you'll say, "Oh my God." Or at least I did. Oh, and he gets bitten on the arm by the dog in question. Why is that significant? It's not, but he's clutching his arm in pain and then, at the end of the movie, he's clutching his arm in pain again and, again, you're gonna say, "Oh my God."

And of course it's a tale of obsession, and nothing obsesses me like obsession. I guess I'm fascinated by the concept because while I do get obsessed with things (video games being a chronic example) it never lasts very long. A few days go by and it's gone. (American McGee's "Alice" was the exception, but I wasn't obsessed with it constantly; I'd be obsessed for a few days, it would fade, it would come back, another few days and it would fade again.) Here we have a guy who's obsessed by the number 23, and clearly the obsession does not end. It goes on and on and on. Even having been in the fevered grip of "Alice" past 1 am on a work night, it's still hard for me to imagine being taken over 24/7 by a Grandiose Concept. Yes, I am a writer, thank you , and I do sometimes work 18 hours at a stretch, but I also sleep sometimes.

But I'm fascinated with obsession in other people. Why people join cults, for example. Of course, they don't think they're joining a cult; they think they're joining a church or a self-help group, but how very quickly it takes them over. The Buddha warned us about this sort of thing when he advocated the Middle Way, telling us to neither reject nor cling too tightly to things - yea verily, even ideas. Or maybe especially ideas. I've often wondered if we could maybe all let go of the notion that we're absolutely right about everything we think we're absolutely right about, we'd see how big the world really is, how much is out there, and how interconnected we are - whether we're right or not.

Anyway, check out the the movie. It's, uh, interesting.


Kellum said...

Wow...sounds really interesting. Also, 23 is actually my lucky number. It's my birthday, 3/23 actually...and 2 to the 3rd power is 8... which is not important in the slightest. And 2+3 is 5 which is also meaningless, but cool.

Jen Ster said...

Joan's number is 223. Dunno why, it just shows up a lot. 2 + 2 + 3 =7, which is significant of...well, nothing, actually.