The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

July 21, 2014

What perseverance the human spirit has! When organizing my reflection on this film, I could not but think of the adulation I bestowed upon the Irish people for enabling a Cristy Brown to overcome his cerebral palsy. If the Irish people are to be honored for creating a man who exploded his will onto the world through a left foot, what can I say about the French for creating a man who can write a novel with one eye?


We are immersed completely in the French treatment of the human condition. It’s inner most truth springs forward, indeed out of the cocoon of human rhythm, when catastrophe is faced. We have it appear to us in all directions. There is the main protagonist with locked-down syndrome, who never resents his incapacity he chaotically is faced with. He simply begins his path contemptuously contemplating the preservation of his life as not a form of living that is worthwhile. And yet, enigmatically, he creates meaning out of the closest a man can come to in facing the abyss.


This parallels the will-to-power of Cristy Brown; of the human spirit’s ability to exert itself as much as possible, irrespective of the constraints. And this is made possible, like Mr. Brown, because of the support had. No man is an island. And the attentiveness and care given to Jean-Do is remarkable. For perhaps the nurses find purpose in their life, at the highest point they have ever experienced, in rehabilitating the man, and in supporting his creativity. And we should not neglect his friends who read him to sleep, the mother of his children who invests enough time with him to understand the blinking letter language to be able to intuit what he is attempting to communicate.


We must ask ourselves as Voltaire (who coincidentally was French himself) had: if this is the best possible world, then what gives? If there is a God, how can he allow such an atrocity? Was it because it was retribution for leading a reckless life? How can we as mortals judge? We instead must look at the beauty that has been created out of this worldly creation. No, not just in his written work, something humans with orders of magnitude of dexterity cannot compare to trying because of their lack of spiritual effort. But in its movement in the essence of the humans interconnected and participating organically to create life. We see the pulse of the cosmos unveiled through the spontaneous ordering of this speckle of mankind after a hemorrhaged stroke. Is this not beautiful to meditate upon – that the worst a man can suffer can perfect the souls of those around him? How Christ-like!


It is simply a rationalization however? A coping vehicle towards interpreting something no one could have controlled and thus obviously prevented? Cannot these humans who were sculpted by the event be moved through other means that do not require a man to be imprisoned in his body? Of course! We cannot deny that this is not the ideal manner in which we would like to be moved. Perhaps in a more perfect order, his stroke will be reversible, even preventable in the first place, and these souls would be moved in more pleasant ways. But in a world that still habituates violence, perhaps this is what was necessary for these beings to become their best possibilities.


Grade: A-



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