Another Reversal

One habit of mind I picked up along the way is to turn things over when I’m looking at them. If I’m stuck on a puzzle, I turn it — or myself — over. If I’m stuck when reading a poem, I read it from the bottom to the top.

So it goes with this quotation from the great Bong Joon-ho.

“I’m not making a documentary or propaganda here. It’s not about telling you how to change the world or how you should act because something is bad, but rather showing you the terrible, explosive weight of reality. That’s what I believe is the beauty of cinema.” (Source)

I’m teaching his film Parasite (as a companion piece to the film Get Out), and my colleague shared the quotation, which I then shared with my students. But outside of class, as I talk with colleagues or cook dinner or drive my son around or watch college basketball or pour silky milk froth into a coffee for my wife or tromp around in the woods or help a student with a paper or sort through the mail, I’ve been looking at Joon-ho’s quotation upside-down and asking myself, is reality — rather than just Joon-ho’s film version of it — truly comprised of a terrible and explosive weight? What, if anything, can be gained from looking at life’s unfolding reality, even in its simplest and most mundane form, in that way?

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