aleph beth null’s review published on Letterboxd:
my letterboxd location used to be listed as ‘on the other side of silence’, a turn of phrase i cribbed from our kindest george eliot:
That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
i changed it after not too long; i decided it was egotistical to claim such sensitivity for myself. and of course i consciously doubt my own openness-to and awareness of human life, and that doubt is justified, because far beyond self-doubt it is absolutely true that i constantly close my ears and eyes every single day to immense suffering around me. not untold suffering—it is told, very much, very loudly. but nevertheless the demand is unbearable. and i cannot imagine not wanting to help fulfil it. people must be listened to. we must work together to make things better. yet to exist, at all, and hence to be able to help, i have had to(?) close off so much of my heart and mind and soul and strength—and. of course. i close off so much more of myself than i need only to survive. i am selfish. (am i? (yes. (am i?)))
(there is no way not to be. but there are many ways to be less.)
in this film, my precious protagonist (and i cannot decide which of his names to call him) manifests x-ray vision, at first, as pure hyper-sensitivity or hyper-awareness. he has a keen vision and feeling of all ‘ordinary human’ life. he does, indeed, experience that roar which lies on the other side of silence. and he wants to remain open to it. he wants to be the one who never leaves the one behind.
but to learn to adapt to the world, to learn to exist in the world, he has to(?) blunt himself. he has to(?) dull his own sensory intake. he has to(?) learn to shut his heart in certain contexts. otherwise he will not be able to help at all. (and he has very few of the personal needs that keep the rest of us from pouring ourselves into pure self-giving.) how does he choose which things he will be open-hearted about? well, as he puts it, he has to train himself to ‘focus on just what i [want] to see’.
and unfortunately no desire is perfectly-aimed. and unfortunately when the demand comes from so many directions he will make mistakes. and unfortunately when the stakes are this high his mistakes will hurt too, too many people. (one is too many. but he makes greater abominations than these.) and unfortunately when he is this revered he will not be properly held accountable for those mistakes. and unfortunately when he is this alone he will not have guidance, at all, on how to choose better. and unfortunately he will be aware of all of this. and still he will have to keep going. he can’t not.
because in this gigantic live-action anime of outsized emotions threaded through outsized relations played out through outsized battles set to an outsized score he is going to experience those familial and relational connections & the connected emotions magnified beyond all proportion, and they’re going to warp his choices because the roars in all directions are just too excruciatingly loud not to try to soothe.
can he choose? yes, to some extent. can he ever choose rightly?
this is probably the best biopic i know of the apostle paul.
see how large he makes these letters when he writes in his own hand.