Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Someone asked me what the Iranian film A Separation by Asghar Farhadi is about. It’s a family drama, I said. But it’s much more than that, of course. I was awed by how the movie was able to deconstruct binaries—modernity and tradition, the conservative and the contemporary, male and female, freedom and obligation—or those that seem to be separate yet actually blend into each other. 

Claude Levi-Strauss posits that the human brain works through binary oppositions, or "contrasting pairs of mental constructs that create social meaning." It is through polarities, through this-versus-that constructions that we make sense of the world. But I wonder how people compartmentalize conflicting ideas or incompatible thoughts and beliefs in the manner of Stephen Jay Gould’s non-overlapping magisteria. Because no matter how hard we try, some things can’t possibly be kept apart. For instance, the wall between our professional and personal lives is permeable; contemporary practices spill into longstanding traditions; emotions sometimes obscure reason, and instinct often mediates logic. Perhaps truth and falsehood are the only opposing classes that are absolutely mutually exclusive. I’m not even sure about good versus bad.


Loree said...

Thoughts to ponder. I find it hard to compartmentalize. Maybe that is why my mind always seems o be in turmoil.

Unknown said...

who defines good, who defines bad? kaya ako, ang taas ng tingin ko sa binary system -- you either have 1 or 0, nothing in between, nothing more, and nothing less.. and yet, those 1's and 0's can paint the most beautiful sunrise or sunset (next to the real one), recite the most romantic poem, and unseat a president/regime.

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