Books, films, music, etc. that speak to our condition?

Hi everyone, been a while. One thing I sometimes find challenging about this condition is that it can feel like being alienated from the rest of the human race.

Sexuality is generally seen as something essential to human life, which for most people it is. In that sense ours is a cruel and unusual fate, and looking at the representation of normal, healthy, functional sexuality in television shows and other forms of popular media can make us feel even more excluded and alone (speaking for myself, at least).

However, the longer I have gone on, the more I realise that actually, suffering is a universal condition. It takes many forms, and even if it doesn’t always look quite like this, sometimes it is remarkably similar. And there is a long history of art that looks very deeply into this suffering, and often - but not always - finds possibilities for redemption, which I think can also be very helpful for people in our condition which often seems without remedy.

So, in this light, I am wondering what stories, whether in books, films, TV shows or whatever, people have found to have a particular connection to our condition.

I’ll get the ball rolling. It’s been a while since I read it, but Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’ features a protagonist who had his private parts blown off in the war. He has a very close friendship with a woman whom he yearns to be able to love in the usual way, but of course, he cannot. Interestingly, it has been speculated by some that Hemingway himself was impotent.

It doesn’t have to be something with such an obvious connection as that, although it might be. Could just be something you connect to on a deep emotional level.

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Good question.

I can relate to stories that are about imprisonment, feats of endurance, and survival stories in general. People surviving as prisoners of war, for instance. Just saw “The way back” (2012), which is about escaping from a Siberian gulag, and read Viktor Frankl’s “man’s search for meaning”, which is about staying sane while in a Nazi death camp.

I know it’s a bit over the top to compare our experiences to these… Perhaps what I’m getting out of it is a feeling that it can always get worse? Or perhaps it gives me a way to get out of my own head and suffering, and focus on someone else’s difficulties for a while?

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Of course it’s not the same experience, obviously most of us are not suffering the extreme deprivation of people in the camps - ours is perhaps a more prolonged, but significantly less acute form of suffering - but there are still points of comparison, for sure. Let’s not kid ourselves, we are engaged in a life or death struggle, and if we are to survive we will have to dig deep within ourselves to find resources we didn’t know we had, in the face of impossible odds.


The Fly

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There’s a Belgian indie movie called Rundskop. It’s a dark, uncomfortable movie about dairy farmers involved with the ‘hormone mob’.

It’s about a guy who… well I won’t go into details as it kind of spoils the movie. Once you make it through the first half or so and more is revealed, you’ll see why it may speak to people with our condition.

Not a film for the faint of heart/stomach, probably not something you should watch if you want to feel better.

I remember having finished the movie years ago and thinking to myself: “Why would someone go through the trouble of making a movie like this, unless they had some kind of serious baggage they needed to drop?” I mean it’s not exactly a commercially appealing formula. But perhaps that thought is just a fallacy and not every ‘artist’ expresses something of themselves in their ‘art’ so to speak.

The Fly is the essentially the story of the archetypal Propeciahelp forum user who can’t accept the sunk cost of his initial drug damage and has to keep conducting dubious scientific experiments on himself, with ever more destructive results.

Interestingly, Cronenburg’s latest, Crimes of the Future, though it features some of his most repulsive images to date, offers what I see as a pathway out of body horror: accepting the body, with all its dreadful limitations, listening and responding to its deep needs. Easier said than done, perhaps, but it stimulated something in me. Of course, others will look at it and just see a weird movie about people who eat plastic.

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I loved Crimes of the Future. Perhaps not a comforting movie, but it speaks to the malleability of the body and the potential beauty in suffering.

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I really need to check this film out. I love Cronenberg’s films, although I haven’t seen his later ones. A lot of his films are about changes to the body and the lead character usually ends up embracing this transmogrification. I suppose that Scanners could in some ways be seen as an allegory for PFS as the scanners are seen as society’s outcasts, harmed by a pharmaceutical. They are able to hear people’s thoughts and see through the masks people wear, a bit like what has happened to us in that we realise that people don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart.