What a slice of life!
Boyhood isn’t Everyman’s journey and isn’t even centered around boyhood as such-as it is around growing up, and very much so in the first third of the film. We might say it’s a natural process of forming an identity, where those first years of life are intertwined with your family and siblings, in this case, a mother, sister and absent father.
In this part of the film we form a sense of first experiences and family interaction through slices of life that jump years in shots. Tastefully executed, and bearing a hint of the times (years in which the scenes were shot) in the clothing, even in the camera work. Exhibiting the quiet life where much is said within the shot without words, i.e. the scene where Mason doesn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to his (potentially first?) friend driving off looking at him thorough the rolled down backseat window of his moms station wagon (exclaiming that it’s his moms car, keeping with the theme of responsibility which arises later on in the story when Mason confronts his father about the inheritance of his dads muscle car), visual poetry without excessive suggestion or explanation. Life is like that, sometimes things just happen and we have no control. His older sister Samantha being very much a part of the plot and life portrayed during those initial years ( she recedes into the background as the film unwinds as she herself is growing up) as well as his mother is a statement that we do not form our identities in vacuum. Yes, science has brought us realizations that our genetic code carries much of our identity inscribed within us but it has also taught us that the first years of life are essential to how we will develop as people.
Mason and his sister are fatherless for long periods of time, their mother in emotional and financial turmoil and with no place to call home in a sense of identifying with a location or surroundings. That plays out gracefully and introspectively in Masons quiet mumbling and “in his own world“ type of behavior when reaching puberty. Ethan Hawke’s (Mason Sr.) role as the fun and wisdom filled father who is himself floating around is a testament to the humanistic, American renegade archetype that his character exhibits. His tendency to pop into his children’s lives and pop out is a result of his own irresponsibility (he is the musician/slacker/nice guy) which leads Patricia Arquette (Olivia, the mom) to distance herself and the kids from him. The end result being a mix of letdown experiences throughout her life (a series of clunky failed marriages with dubious men) and a rocky path for her children to accompany. In the tradition of doing her best (a personal plateau does not constitute a good decision) in a patriarchal Texas society, pushing away the slacker father and raising the kids on her own (3 failed marriages) is a tough call to make and a uncertain path to take. She gets herself into trouble, but tries to get them all out of it every time she does produce such a situation. An ambivalent character, trying, doing her best!?
The pop references that are placed in the narrative are Mason watching Dragon ball Z cartoons, sleeping with a DBZ themed blanket when youngest. At age thirteen or so mentioning Emo music in conversation, wearing nail polish and having bangs over his face. During this period we get a glimpse of his room and his graffiti tendencies. Finally having the conversation with his mother on the day when leaving for college where he mentions that his roommate listens to Bright Eyes, so he concludes he can’t be a bad guy. Later on in the film/in his life, Mason acquires a lust for photography, his transformative hobby that leads him on a path to becoming an adult, even an artist perhaps. Linklater obviously collaborated with Ellar Coltrane (playing Mason) in a true life sort of way, incorporating parts of Ellar’s life into the narrative of this better to say experience than movie. The authenticity of the American malaise is something that is a part of Linklaters oeuvre, it is at the core of the majority of his most acclaimed work.
Wonderfully stitched together, we can not be left but feeling immensely impressed by all the shades of gray that Linklater has shown in this 13 year long cinematic experiment. May Ellar grow up to be a wholesome person, and with friends like Richard and experiences like these, it seems he just might.
The ability to endure or carry on with an activity.
Chutzpah (/ˈhʊtspə/ or /ˈxʊtspə/) is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. The Yiddish word derives from the Hebrew word ḥutspâ (חֻצְפָּה), meaning “insolence”, “cheek” or “audacity”. The modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning, having been popularized through vernacular use in film, literature, and television. The word is sometimes interpreted—particularly in business parlance—as meaning the amount of courage, mettle or ardor that an individual has.However in more traditional usage, chutzpah is invariably negative in context.
Chutzpah amounts to a total denial of personal responsibility, that renders others speechless and incredulous … one cannot quite believe that another person totally lacks common human traits like remorse, regret, guilt, sympathy and insight. The implication is at least some degree of psychopathy in the subject, as well as the awestruck amazement of the observer at the display.
Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization. Commonly associated concepts within the field of psychology include “perseverance,” "hardiness," “resilience,” “ambition,” “need for achievement” and conscientiousness. These constructs can be conceptualized as individual differences related to the accomplishment of work rather than latent ability. This distinction was brought into focus in 1907 when William James challenged the field to further investigate how certain individuals are capable of accessing richer trait reservoirs enabling them to accomplish more than the average person, but the construct dates back at least to Galton, and the ideals of persistence and tenacity have been understood as a virtue at least since Aristotle.
…the “marshmallow test,” the legendary experiment on self-control that he invented nearly 50 years ago. In the video, a succession of 5-year-olds sit at a table with cookies on it (the kids could pick their own treats). If they resist eating anything for 15 minutes, they get two cookies; otherwise they just get one.(…)Famously, preschoolers who waited longest for the marshmallow went on to have higher SAT scores than the ones who couldn’t wait. In later years they were thinner, earned more advanced degrees, used less cocaine, and coped better with stress.(…)Self-control can be taught. Grown-ups can use it to tackle the burning issues of modern middle-class life: how to go to bed earlier, not check email obsessively, stop yelling at our children and spouses, and eat less bread. Poor kids need self-control skills if they’re going to catch up at school.
The American psychologist Roy Baumeister writes: ‘People may claim they are inspired by the Delphic command to “know thyself” but the self they tend to seek is one that is uniquely superior to others and in control of outcomes.’ There is something in that which connects people such as me to those who are more optimistic and confident. I’ve sought this knowledge about change, in the first place, because facts bring order. Once I know how change works, I can decide, I can act, I can attempt to calm the chattering dissonance. (…) The only thing I ever wanted was the illusion of control. — http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/how-a-hero-narrative-can-transform-the-self/
He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp saying for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. — John Henry Newman, The Definition of a Gentleman (via senecasredoubt)
A library of wisdom, then, is more precious than all wealth, and all things desirable cannot be compared to it. Whoever, therefore claims to be zealous of truth, of happiness, of wisdom or knowledge, aye even of the faith, must needs become a lover of books. —
The Love of Books Philobiblon of Richard De Bury
Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills. — http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/in-our-digital-world-are-young-people-losing-the-ability-to-read-emotions
Audiobook for HOMELAND, read by Wil Wheaton, DRM-free in Itunes! -
I’d really appreciate it if you’d reblog this.
Normally, Itunes will only sell you DRM-crippled audiobooks that are locked to it and to Amazon’s Audible service. However, by listing my independently produced audiobook for HOMELAND (the sequel to Little Brother) as a “spoken word” title, I’ve…
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief. — Franz Kafka
A cartoon by William Haefeli. For more cartoons from this week’s issue of the magazine: http://nyr.kr/S8nR0r