"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011


I'm always amazed when I come across similar ideas over and over in various places. I was in a bookstore and just flipped through a book that caught my eye: Anti-Cancer. Because of my family history, I have an on-going interest in new cancer theories or discoveries. But that wasn't what caught me. It was this:  Three groups of mice had tumours grafted on to them.
"One month after the graft, 63% of the rats that had received shocks but had learned to avoid some of them by pressing a lever had rejected the tumor. The rejection rate in this group was higher than in the control group (which had not undergone shocks), in which only 54% of the animals had rejected the cancerous cells. On the other hand, only 23% of those animals subjected to electric shock with no means of escape managed to over come their cancer. The helplessness of their situation had, it seems, hastened the tumor's spread....It isn't stress itself that promotes cancer development; it is the persistent perception of helplessness the individual has that affects the body's reaction to the disease."
So we're actually better off to be stressed out, but sometimes see an avenue out, than to never be stressed at all. So the fact that we're in a doomsday scenario these days what with the environment, the economy, and the proximity to 2012 and all, isn't a problem if we can see a direction to move in that will benefit our situation.

My question is, with situations much more complex than a shock that can be avoided, do we actually have to be able to help ourselves, or is it enough to have the illusion that we can help ourselves? Is believing that we're doing something the same as escaping the problem? And what if we just stop caring about the problem? Do mice ever acclimatize to the shocks? What if the shocks were minor at first then gradually increased?

And if I escape the problem by watching movies regularly, is that triggering the same cellular activity as if I actually escape the problem by avoiding the pain in the first place perhaps by no longer reading or watching the news?

I thought of these questions as I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It's a gorgeous film. Several of the characters are trapped. An older woman is in a dead relationship but decides it's too late to move on, so when she meets a younger woman just starting a sparkless marriage, she tries to convince her to end it now. The older woman is being shocked and trying to escape by focusing on the other woman, projecting her pain elsewhere. The younger woman is being shocked but tries to get used to the pain. The others are in a triad that works well, a new member is a buffer muting the shocks betwen them. But when she leaves, they have to escape one another. And she is naturally restless so escapes all experiences before they get too painful, but thus endures a different kind of pain. Do all methods of escape count??

Until I just IMDB'd the film, I forgot it was written by Woody Allen. The dialogue made me think it was written by someone whose first language wasn't English. Everyone speaks in a very formal, grammatically correct way - how we might write to one another, but not how anyone I know ever speaks. That felt awkward, and I'm not sure what effect he was trying to achieve there. It's not something I've noticed in any of his other films. Beyond that, I could watch it over and over. But I'm a sucker for Woody.

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