Recent entries on Divinations

The Lovely Bones: Alarm Clock

Clock, n.
“The purpose of a clock is not always to display the time. It may also be used to control a device according to time, e.g., an alarm clock, a VCR, or a time bomb (see: counter). However, in this context, it is more appropriate to refer to it as a timer or trigger mechanism rather than strictly as a clock.”

Jennifer’s Body: All Praise to the Hungry Ghost!

As surprising at it may sound, Jennifer helps identify nothing other than what can be described as the three realms of existence, what one tradition describes in terms of the sacred geometry of the circle: the realm of perception, the realm of the body, and the “secret” realm of emotion.

The Lovely Bones: Ruth Connors

She is given no title other than the name she carries – Ruth Connors – but even this provides us with a clue as to who she might be. Her given name comes from the Hebrew word for friend and companion, also the central figure in the Book of Ruth, well-known for her promise “whither thou goest, I will go.”

The Eye

What she has been experiencing is the memory of that other, the one from whom she developed her ability to see. As the consequence of the operation that returned her vision, that “other” has come to inhabit her very being, bearing all the urgency and pain those eyes first witnessed. In another land, and another time.


It is a frightful existence, ever on the edge of disintegration, unable to fully tell where one’s body ends and the world begins. To be condemned to such a border/line is to be forever unrecognized in the eyes of others and, not incidentally, in one’s own as well. Invading the body and mind, it is to be robbed of any and all certainty. For if “I” do not exist, who’s to say anything else is “real” either?

The Lovely Bones

After her murder, Susie will find herself in a strange and beautiful world – “the blue horizon between heaven and earth” – one from which she see into the past, or at least those who peopled her previous existence. And it is from this place that her story will be told, finally giving it the meaning it had yet to acquire before.

Jennifer’s Body: A Closer Look

Whenever anything is repressed – whether it be socially (in the silence that dares not speak its shame) or psychically (a buried truth that’s too painful to bear) – it is the body that bears the brunt of these evasions. But, as if to keep the truth alive, it is also the body that acts out, refusing to comply with the conspiracy of silence that seeks to keep her contained. The fact that Jennifer appears “monstrous” is merely a reflection of the commitments that have agreed to keep her at bay, marginalized and silenced, as if ignoring the truth would make it go away


If we embrace this broader understanding of what it means to confront death, only then can we come to appreciate the story being told in Incendiary, especially the struggle of its main protagonist. Otherwise, the film can only come across as embarrassing or incompetent, a measure of what it fails to reflect (and regurgitate) back to an audience already overfed with well-worn words that, deliberately or not, only serve to buttress against what we have yet to learn as a culture and civilization. It is this lesson that the young woman at the center of the story has to teach us, even as she willingly allows herself to be swallowed by a grief too awful to bear.

Julie & Julia

In the end, we learn a whole lot more about Julia Child – about what moves her as well as what haunts her – than we are ever allowed to learn about Julie. This absence points us to a gaping hole, perhaps one with which Julie was struggling herself. For coming into one’s own, like Julia Child, is no small achievement, whether it be in the 1950s or the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Jennifer’s Body

If we’re willing to loosen ourselves from the constraints of literal interpretation, we may come to recognize how Jennifer is nothing other than Needy’ alter ego, a split having its origins in childhood, in which the two “characters” are but different sides of the same person. (That this story was penned by Diablo Cody, the primary writer for “United States of Tara” is a relevant clue here.)


In the end, the misogynist accusation can only be understood as a secular rite of (self) absolution, in which the stance of indignation is called upon to veil the far-reaching implications of the confusion and mutilation put on display. For the “He” and “She” at the center of the film’s story point to the generic nature of the battle being waged.

The Fountain

The three “timelines” of the film are but narrative devices that provide a panoramic view of Thomas’ awful struggle. They also hint at the promise of what is to come, for what we are witness to is a meditation on the painful process of discovery when faced with the Impossible.

Swimming Pool

What Swimming Pool presents us with are the outlines of a mystery, perhaps the greatest one of all. An unseen presence, only seemingly absent, hints at the relationship between observer and observed, but also to forms of (in)sight not immediately apparent to a mind’s eye still learning how to see. Only careful investigation, and a certain kind of fearlessness, will unveil the truth that beckons from the water’s surface.

Away We Go

In addition to being a road movie, Away We Go also provides us with what can only be described as the couple’s archetypal journey which, in this case, is ultimately about the trip from his parents to the home of the dead that is hers. The stops along the way are almost incidental to this other journey but, in the end, are necessary steps along the way that make it possible.


In the absence of (his) sight, both are given the opportunity to experience the other – and themselves – in a different light, the flow of sensations different than the strangled mass that has dominated their lives until now. Out of darkness, comes light. And from that light emerges a radically new sense of possibility.


In many ways, Wanted is the complement of Martyrs, particularly since both revolve around the violence of transformation. The primary difference, of course, is that the protagonist being pummeled here is male and the one at whose hands he suffers is a woman.


The accretions of power have long-lasting effects, not only resident in the hands of the elected, or the (self) appointed, but in the modes-of-living and ways-of-feeling that have come to define our “normal” existence. The question is: how does one push back?

Rachel Getting Married

She is the living and breathing memory of the ghost which has not been confronted and which, as a result, will continue to haunt the family, no matter how hard they try to pretend otherwise.

Phoebe in Wonderland

The delight of a young imagination and the despondency that seems to emerge from nowhere: “You might just as well say that ‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same as ‘I sleep when I breathe.'”


To the extent that Martyr’s story is about pain, it is ultimately concerned with the suffering – and blindness – caused by a certain form of stubborn faith … and an inability to die.

One Response to “Movies”

  1. This is exceptional. I’ve long wondered about the character of Ruth, how powerful and essential she seems, though kept mostly in the background in the movie. In the book her role is more obvious, and consistent with this reading.

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