A lot happened, in other words, over the back half of the 2010s. If there was a comfortable constant, it was that for all the changes to the cinema landscape, movies themselves still delivered. Without fail, people kept making good ones, in stubborn defiance of the bellyaching cliché that they never make ’em like they used to. Whether judged as a whole or as two five-year parts, the 2010s were a terrific decade for film; you just had to be willing to go looking for the best, and to look outside of an increasingly IP-obsessed studio system—not that the multiplex didn’t offer some gems of its own, including the movie you’ll find at the very top of The A.V. Club’s new list of the decade’s best.
In fact, your thoughts often have much more to do with how you feel than what is actually happening in your life.
This isn’t a new idea. Nearly two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “not by things, but by the views we take of them.” In the Book of Proverbs (23: 7) in the Old Testament you can find this passage: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” And even Shakespeare expressed a similar idea when he said: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2).
Burns M.D., David D.. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
A decade later, when, in 1987, Bowie returned for the Concert for Berlin, a three-day open-air show in front of the Reichstag, he chose “Heroes” for his performance. By then the city’s Soviet-dominated East had become safer, but it had not become more free. Rock music was treated as a destabilizing threat.
But the wall couldn’t keep out radio waves; the West German–operated, US-run radio station Radio in the American Sector was popular in the East, and had secured rare permission from the performing acts to broadcast the show in its entirety. (Record labels typically opposed this in the 1980s, knowing listeners would record the broadcasts, undercutting album sales.) The concert was held near enough to the border that many East Berliners crowded along the wall to listen to the forbidden American and British music wafting across the city, allowing these two halves of the city to hear the same show, divided but together.
When Bowie performed on the second night, he began by telling the crowd, in German, “We send our wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the wall.” He sang “Heroes,” the song he’d recorded in Berlin a decade earlier amid the city’s Cold War fear and violence.
No ordinary TV host, Lipton took a journalistic approach to his job. He spent two weeks preparing for every interview, watching every film and TV show in which a guest appeared. The actual interviews lasted four to five hours (edited down for television). And Lipton arrived at every taping with his trademark blue index cards, ready to interrogate guests.
The legend appeared on Lipton’s show in 1998. While discussing the film Days of Wine and Roses, Lipton mentioned a scene where his character admits he’s an alcoholic.
What happens next isn’t on YouTube, but even as just a transcript, it’s still one of the most powerful moments in the show’s history.
Lemmon: “Which I am, incidentally.”
Lipton: “Are you talking as Clay [Lemmon’s character] now or as Jack Lemmon?”
Lemmon: “No, as Jack Lemmon. I’m an alcoholic.”
A special live edition of The Moth recorded at The Players Club in New York City. A professional who works with adoption services details the personal reason she was drawn to her work, a son desperately seeks a connection with his father after a near deadly plane crash, and a Lutheran minister visits The Middle East and combats her intense fear of heights.
The self that dies is radically separate, not only from the material world but also from other selves. My consciousness is essentially private; I cannot directly experience the mind of another. I may know everything public about another conscious being, but I cannot experience being that other. Knowing from direct experience is one thing, and knowing about, from an outside perspective, is quite another. Mortality therefore entails unspeakable loneliness.
Itself a narrativized apothegm, Tolstoy’s novella contains several of his most-cited lines. Ivan Ilych has lived as if his public role exhausted his identity, but in his mortal illness he discovers the private self, inaccessible from the outside, that he has overlooked. He senses with horror that his role will go on but his “I” will die.
None of us can really grasp this fact, but for Ivan Ilych it is all the more terrible because he is losing the self just as he realizes he has it. He has thought of himself as his “place” (mesto), a word that means not only physical location but also job (position) and social role (place in society). He has assiduously avoided doing anything “inappropriate” (literally, out of place). But the self is not a place, and so he has missed it until, when dying, he recognizes that besides what is here and now, there is something else.
What Ivan Ilych takes to be the glory of his life, his amazing ability to “fit in” with others, depends on a “virtuoso” erasure of self. But as he will learn, nothing can be worse than success in such a venture. That is the meaning of the frequently cited apothegm that begins Chapter 2: Ivan Ilych’s life was the most simple and most ordinary and therefore the most terrible. (GSW, 255)
Morson, Gary. The Long and Short of It: From Aphorism to Novel
PHILOSOPHER: All you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and is not a matter you can do anything about.
YOUTH: What another person thinks of you—if he or she likes you or dislikes you—that is that person’s task, not mine. Is that what you are saying?
PHILOSOPHER: That is what separating is. You are worried about other people looking at you. You are worried about being judged by other people. That is why you are constantly craving recognition from others. Now, why are you worried about other people looking at you, anyway? Adlerian psychology has an easy answer. You haven’t done the separation of tasks yet. You assume that even things that should be other people’s tasks are your own. Remember the words of the grandmother: “You’re the only one who’s worried how you look.” Her remark drives right to the heart of the separation of tasks. What other people think when they see your face—that is the task of other people and is not something you have any control over.
Kishimi, Ichiro. The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness
But no matter; I could still find a way to make my relationship with Facebook dysfunctional.
I started using it in a manner many people, alas, seem to: as reading material as I pored through other people’s posts in order to, as people in recovery say, “compare and despair.” Everyone I knew, it seemed, had a book being made into a movie, a perfect husband and even more perfect child or the best friends in the world. Even though I understood that Facebook life wasn’t entirely reflective of real life, I still allowed myself to either seethe with jealousy or, far more commonly, use what other people seemed to be achieving as an emotional sledgehammer to beat myself up.
I’m relieved to report that my compare-and-despair habit diminished exponentially once I realized that we all have issues and most of us wouldn’t trade ours for anyone else’s if we actually knew other people’s real stories.
A true understanding and humble estimate of oneself is the highest and most valuable of all lessons. To take no account of oneself, but always to think well and highly of others is the highest wisdom and perfection. Should you see another person openly doing evil, or carrying out a wicked purpose, do not on that account consider yourself better than him, for you cannot tell how long you will remain in a state of grace. We are all frail; consider none more frail than yourself.
Thomas A. Kempis
Eternal Return dictates that all things in existence recur over and over again for all eternity. This is to say that human history is a preset circle without progress, the same events arising perpetually and doomed never to alter or to improve. Existence is thus weighty because it stands fixed in an infinite cycle. This weightiness is “the heaviest of burdens”, for “if every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross.” At the same time, it is necessary for any event to occur in the cycle of events exactly as it has always occurred for the cycle to be identical; consequently, everything takes on an eternally fixed meaning. This fact prevents one from believing things to be fleeting and worthless.
The inverse of this concept is Kundera’s “unbearable lightness of being.” Assuming that eternal return were impossible, humankind would experience an “absolute absence of burden,” and this would “[cause] man to be lighter than air” in his lack of weight of meaning. Something which does not forever recur has its brief existence, and, once it is complete, the universe goes on existing, utterly indifferent to the completed phenomenon. “Life which disappears once and for all, which does not return” writes Kundera, is “without weight…and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime…means nothing.” Each life is insignificant; every decision does not matter. Since decisions do not matter, they are “light”: they do not tie us down. However, at the same time, the insignificance of our decisions – our lives, or being – is unbearable. Hence, “the unbearable lightness of being.” On the other hand, eternal existence would demand of us strict adherence to pre-scripted rules and laws; a sense of duty and rigorous morality.
“What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?” Kundera notes that this is not a new question. Parmenides posed it in the sixth century BC. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness etc. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness? Parmenides responded that lightness is positive, weight negative. Kundera then questions “Was he correct or not?” The lightness/weight opposition remains the most ambiguous of all. Kundera then asks, should one live with weight and duty or with lightness and freedom? In Nietzschean terms, weight is life-affirming in that to live with positive intensity is to live in a way you’d be prepared to repeat. The emptiness of Sabina’s life in ‘The Unbearable Lightness Of Being’, and that she wanted to “die in lightness” — which is to say that she is indifferent to her life — shows that she would not want to repeat her life and would not accept an eternal return.