Thoughts On: Black Venus/Requiem For A Dream - Free Will & Responsibility


Black Venus/Requiem For A Dream - Free Will & Responsibility

Quick Thoughts: Black Venus/Requiem For A Dream

My most recent post was on the morally and pragmatic labyrinth that is Black Venus. I was inspired to revisit this film by the Requiem Series and the theme of personal choice and responsibility.


This is first explicit comparison essay I've done so far, but fringed on the edges of it with Leone's works as well as the essay on Antiheroes and A Clockwork Orange. I've decided to do this because I couldn't fit this last detail into the Black Venus post and because of the expressed motivation behind writing about this film - Requiem For A Dream. The next post I will be doing in that series will be on Jennifer Connelly's character, Marion. Marion among the other characters face a pivotal idea of responsibility, as captured by the image of her eye (discussed in the first post in the Requiem Series).

With a question of responsibility comes an inherent question of, you guessed it, free will. Is human will free? Do we decide?

The simple answer here is, no, of course not.

To understand this you have to face the question of free will head on and ask the question: can you fly? The answer: no. Have you wanted to? Of course. (I'm not talking about planes, so don't be a smart-ass). My point is that you have never been able to just levitate and float up that last flight of stairs or superman it over the traffic because... physics.

What exactly does this have to do with free will? It's simple, people like to think of free will in terms of deciding to think and feel a certain way - making personal decisions in other words. But, when you bring everything back to fundamentals, free will goes out the window.

This is incredibly important as once you go from the fundamental question of flight, of challenging physics, you can zoom into something undeniable. What I'm asking you to do is zoom in, down to the atom, down to quantum physics. Atoms work of their own crazy set of laws that dictate the macro universe we experience. Moreover, we are, as you probably realised, made up of atoms.

If we don't control them, how do we control ourselves?

This is why I pragmatically dismiss the idea of free will. The only counter argument here is of the mind, of some idea of spirituality. Firstly, the mind is the product of the brain. Just look at genetics and hormones - both dictate how we think, feel, grow, mature, perceive and so on with external factors such as upbringing contributing to the process. Secondly... sigh... I'm not going to entertain intangible think-feely ideas of a soul.

The link to film here comes with the idea of law and of religion - it's all to do with responsibility. People appeal to an idea of free will because they want to blame you for the things you do, not have you attribute your actions to some intangible idea or... I don't know... the Spaghetti Monster. The objection to free will on these grounds is insane. Fuck the Spaghetti Monster!

Yeah, I said it! Fuck the Spaghetti Monster!

You can still throw guys in jail or condemn them to hell (if you must) on the basis that the Spaghetti Monster fucked them over and made them rob a bank. If he/she/it controls all of us, then we are equally dictated and should still get rid of the fuck(ed) ups.

So, what's my point? My point is merely that free will doesn't exist. We are guided and controlled by the biological machine that is our body. We nonetheless have responsibility over our lives. This is a pretty dehumanising view of the world, but only of you think that humans are magical, amazing... things. And so to round off, I assert that both Saartjie in Black Venus and the characters in Requiem For A Dream are the crux of their narratives. To find out what this means for Marion, stay tuned...

Previous post:

Black Venus - Mensch?

Next post:

Requiem For A Dream - Marion

More from me:

No comments: