Hits to the Heart and Mind from the Land of Dreams
Dead Poets Societycc
Where to start with a film that had this much impact? 1989. Written by Tom Schulman and directed by Peter Weir. A host of nominations and awards including an Academy Award for best screenplay. A performance coup for Robin Williams. The focus point of the film's legacy is, of course, a phrase that is nothing short of an entry into the cultural lexicon. A look at the more complete quote is entertaining and definitely worthwhile.
John Keating: Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota
of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are
now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them
whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - -
Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make
your lives extraordinary.
This tale of the human spirit daring to identify and seek freedom...
Keating: I SOUND MY BARBARIC YAWP OVER THE ROOFTOPS OF .
...is framed, by necessity?, by the tale of the human need to subjugate others. It is set at a boy's prep school, at one time and perhaps still, a virtual template of conformity. And a main component of the drama is the horrible consequences wrought by the proverbial parents who not only don't grasp their child's right to pursue their own path, it is not even in their belief-system vocabulary. This type of tyranny always has it's rationales.
McAllister: You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists, John. When they
realize they're not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they'll hate you
Keating: We're not talking artists, George, we're talking freethinkers.
Our hero is out to liberate his students from any prescribed dogma and he kicks it off by ripping out the filter of mechanistic formalism that prologues the very framework of their studies. And why not? Even Formalists can't agree on primary analytical elements to quantify the soul of poetry. No, of course they can't.
Keating: We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry
because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with
passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits
and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are
what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the
questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities
filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you
are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you
may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute
a verse. What will your verse be?
Keating pays the system's price but wins the soul of the battle.
Keating: No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the
As some astute observers have pointed out; they're the only things that can.
Keating: "But only in their dreams can man be truly free. 'Twas always thus,
and always thus will be."
So, the crux of this is that an intelligent, courageous person thought that it was worth the trouble and risk to bring home certain concepts to those in his charge. To wit:
-As Jane Roberts put it in her excellent Seth series and is echoed in philosophy both ancient and new: The point of power is in the present moment.
-You have it in you to be your own best, ultimate authority. Question any force attempting to take that role.
One thing to point out about that last item is the ongoing process of determining if we are keying into our truest, Universe-born impulses or letting a fevered egotism (note: not the same as ego. Whatever the truth about the composition, we are, apparently, rightfully—an "I") tell us that anything we do is justified, if aware of it at all.
Keating: Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone.
So, how do we accomplish this tuning-in of Spirit?; this best authority? No doubt, everyone has their own road toward it. The movie provides a possible exercise.
Charlie: Welton Academy. Hello? Yes, he is. Just a moment. Mr. Nolan, it's for you.
It's God. He says we should have girls at Welton.
...it's for you. It's God. He says....
Intriguing. Of course, how many have done just that and come back with the message that God said THEY should determine what's right and fill in the blank is suffering because they didn't observe the principles of fill in the blank. A sure sign of that fevered egotism.
Keating: We're not laughing at you; we're laughing near you.
As an ending tangent in that it alludes to self-fulfilling attention and focus...
Neil Perry: It was a dark and rainy night, and this old lady, who had a passion for
jigsaw puzzles, sat by herself in her house at her table to complete a
new jigsaw puzzle. But as she pieced the puzzle together, she realized,
to her astonishment, that the image that was formed was her very own
room. And the figure in the center of the puzzle, as she completed it,
was herself. And with trembling hands, she placed the last four pieces
and stared in horror at the face of a demented madman at the window.
The last thing that this old lady ever heard was the sound of breaking
Now, that's just scary.
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Written Content G.A.M