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my big book of little catastrophes
I ate WHAT?
what the BLEEP do we know? 
4th-Aug-2004 09:23 am
I saw this movie last night: http://www.whatthebleep.com/
WHAT THE #$*! DO WE KNOW?!” is a new type of film. It is part documentary, part story, and part elaborate and inspiring visual effects and animations. The protagonist, Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, finds herself in a fantastic Alice in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to unravel, revealing the uncertain world of the quantum field hidden behind what we consider to be our normal, waking reality.

She is literally plunged into a swirl of chaotic occurrences, while the characters she encounters on this odyssey reveal the deeper, hidden knowledge she doesn’t even realize she has asked for. Like every hero, Amanda is thrown into crisis, questioning the fundamental premises of her life – that the reality she has believed in about how men are, how relationships with others should be, and how her emotions are affecting her work isn’t reality at all!

As Amanda learns to relax into the experience, she conquers her fears, gains wisdom, and wins the keys to the great secrets of the ages, all in the most entertaining way. She is then no longer the victim of circumstances, but she is on the way to being the creative force in her life. Her life will never be the same.

I went with my friend Nick, who is in college and studying science and philosophy, so he was the perfect choice for a companion. The movie talks about the interaction between quantum physics, neurophysiology, consciousness, perception, choice and spirituality. It was a huge undertaking for a movie, and I have to respect the filmmakers' effort. I think they did a pretty good job with most of it, though it wasn't a perfect movie and there were parts that either dragged, were too trite, or just didn't make sense.

Overall I think they presented their thesis well, though there were places where they didn't connect the dots very well. I found it interesting that all this stuff they presented as a ground-breaking paradigm shift is about 95% overlap with my own world view. I have thought deeply about these issues, and I find that I came to a lot of the same conclusions as the "great thinkers" in the movie. Go me. I guess it helps that I studied physics in college and have a good understanding of QM and cosmology (good for someone without sufficient math to be a real physicist, that is), and I've spent a lot of my life pursuing insight into these very questions. I wonder if we've been looking for answers in the same places, or at least along the same paths.

I have to say that there were things in the movie that I found suspect, and that were presented without sufficient evidence for me to easily accept them. One was an experiment that found the crystalline structure of water changed depending on whether the jar containing it was labeled with positive or negative statements. Another was that one of the authorities interviewed on film was a spirit being channelled by a woman. The website gives a bit more background on these items, but they still smelled a bit too much of patchouli for me.

The basic thesis of the film is that reality is subjective. This is not new. Philosophers have been discussing existentialism since Kierkegaard, Hegel, and Heidegger. (Sarte's essay Existentialism is a Humanism is the seminal work on the topic.) But the approach in the film is to tie the subjectivity of reality to the nature of quantum mechanics. They discuss the particle/wave duality, the uncertainty principle, and the phenomenon of observation collapsing a probability wave into a determined state. These concepts from physics are connected to subjectivity, with the twist that not only is reality subjective, but our subjectivity actually determines what is real.

The film meanders through discussions of neurophysiology and psychology, the interaction of mind and body, and the evolutionary basis of emotion. The filmmakers also include discussions of the nature of God, spirituality, and the question of the existence of the soul.

The fundamental message is that we are responsible for our own experience of life, and that we have a choice in the matter. Our own outlook makes a difference in how we experience life and what occurs in the world. We are the cause, not victims of circumstance. This is the world view from which I live my life, and it was refreshing and gratifying to see an effort to promote this paradigm.
4th-Aug-2004 10:19 am (UTC)
I strongly agree with the last paragraph: I mightn't be responsible for the circumstances that brought me certain places, but I'm fully responsible for dragging my ass out of them. This, of course, applies to good places and bad.

Thank you for the refreshing post.

4th-Aug-2004 11:00 am (UTC)
Despite seriously not being inclined to math myself, I found this theory personally adequate if not sufficient to assist in bridging absurdity gaps such as "what possible reason could make water crystalize differently based upon what's written upon its container."

5th-Aug-2004 09:17 am (UTC)
Masuru Emoto's work with water seems a little patchouli scented (love the phrase!) to me too. But also profound in the way that we are made of water and how our thoughts and those around us may effect our very being.

Dr. Emoto's page - http://www.hado.net/

More cool crystal pictures at http://www.adhikara.com/water.html

(ps - got here via mr_kurt. You commented in his journal and your name intrigued me.)
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