Archive for manic-depression

D is for Darkness

Posted in All, Media, Psychology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by marushiadark

“I like rabbits and all.  They’re cute and they’re horny.  And if you’re cute and you’re horny, then you’re probably happy, in that you don’t know who you are and why you’re even alive.” ~ Donnie Darko

I was watching the movie Donnie Darko earlier today.  It’s an incredibly fucked-up psychological fantasy and I think that may be what makes it one of my favorite movies of all time … that and the fact that I was once not all that dissimilar from Donnie, myself.  The director, Richard Kelly, says he welcomes any and all viewer interpretations as valid and mine is that the movie is a commentary on the way in which a few of us try desperately to escape our conditioned realities.

Donnie Darko is an extremely intelligent and eloquent young high school student who just doesn’t fit in with the world around him.  His principal remarks at one point that his test scores are intimidating, and Donnie constantly challenges those around him to stop buying into the pre-programmed beliefs they’ve been spoon-fed.  But when he tries to break free, the universe pushes back and provides him with nothing but resistance and sorrow and pain.

I think all of us must face this sort of ordeal in life where we question our own existence and come face to face with death and pain and God and the thought of being alone in a cold, dead, and empty nihilistic universe.  For those of us that are more aware, we usually face these issues sooner, rather than later, often around the age that Donnie Darko was in the movie.  For those that are strong enough, we learn to move on and find answers and meaning behind it all.  Like with any test, those that can’t hack it are doomed to repeat their lessons until they ultimately learn them.

So what is it we can learn from Donnie Darko?

“And did you stop and think that maybe infants need darkness?  That maybe darkness is part of their natural environment?” ~ Prof. Kenneth Monnitoff

Perhaps the first thing that Donnie Darko teaches us is that it’s ok to be different (but not easy) and that it’s perfectly normal (but not common) to be going through all of this crap and that life is too boring if you just sit around looking pleasant all the time like Kitty Farmer or Jim Cuttingham.

Darkness teaches us to appreciate the presence of light.  Chaos teaches us to appreciate order.  You can’t have one without the other, since darkness is the absence of light and chaos is the absence of order.  For life to be in dynamic equilibrium, there has to be some of both.  Too much light or too much darkness and you will not be able to see clearly.  Too much light or too much darkness and you’ll eventually go blind.

I remember walking around my school one time when I realized that peace is actually quite boring sometimes and that we never really notice things like peace and love and health until we stop having them; but once we’re sick or in the middle of a war zone or alone, we only want for it to end and for us to return to that healthy and peaceful and loving time.

“There are other things that need to be taken into account here.  Like the whole spectrum of human emotions.  You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie is obviously very aware of reality and that life is a lot more complex than the so-called authorities would have him believe.  Those in positions of power over him live in a fantasy world and use threats and drugs and mind-control techniques when he refuses to conform to their reality.

At one point, Kitty Farmer threatens him, saying that if he won’t put a clearly subjective issue into a black or white category, then he will receive a zero for the day.  Of course, Donnie knows better.  He knows that a failing grade is a meaningless symbol that has no real-world application to anything.  So he tells Kitty that she can shove the whole program up her ass.  This lands him into detention and a parent-teacher meeting is called.  It’s clear from the way in which the principal deals with the situation that he’s little more qualified than Kitty Farmer is – a fact that is further displayed when he fires the only open-minded teacher at the school.

“You’re right, actually …  I’m pretty toubled and I’m pretty confused … but I think you’re the fucking Antichrist.” ~ Donnie Darko

The human mind goes through many different levels of consciousness, ranging from that of a primitive animal all the way up to … well, there’s theoretically no limit to that.

Religion and superstition are just one level along the way.  Religion can be a good thing when it prevents people from causing harm to themselves and to one another and when it gets them to follow a degree of order in their lives.  But those rules are meant more to keep people in line than to reveal to them the truth, and this is when religion can become a problem, as there are many who will kill others because they don’t understand the true purpose of what is written in their religious codices.

“I have reached the end of your book and … there are so many things that I need to ask you.  Sometimes I’m afraid of what you might tell me.  Sometimes I’m afraid that you’ll tell me this is not a work of fiction.” ~ Donnie Darko

Science portends to be all about truth, but it often ignores the equally important vessel of understanding: philosophy.

Donnie Darko’s science teacher, Kenneth Monnitoff, opens up to him initially in explaining to him about time travel and wormholes.  For a while, Donnie is very interested and grateful to his teacher for that guidance.  He takes that knowledge and uses it to advance his understanding of what’s going on; but he becomes frustrated upon returning to his professor again after he’s taken The Philosophy of Time Travel (which Monnitoff gave him) and used it to discover some very esoteric things.  Monnitoff tells him that he can’t continue helping Donnie or he would risk losing his job.  So now Donnie is once again all alone.

I can recall having similar conversations with my own science teachers.  When I started talking about multiple dimensions or the application of negative mass in regards to flying saucers, I got strange and worried looks as though they believed I ought to be in a mental institute.  But was that necessarily the case or did they just not have the imagination or evidence I had?

“I don’t think that you have a clue what it’s like to communicate with these kids.  We are losing them to apathy … to this prescribed nonsense.  They are slipping away.” ~ Karen Pommeroy

Clearly, none of Donnie’s teachers, except for Karen Pommeroy, is even remotely capable of understanding the pain and the trauma that Donnie has gone through.  They aren’t equipped with the awareness and experience necessary to understand that a schizophrenic mind will not conform to social norms.  Whatever Donnie is going through, whether it’s real or imagined, he most certainly believes it to be real and is willing to act upon those beliefs.

For those of you who have never experienced it before, such things as manic-depression, multiple personality disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia arise when the mind is given something that it cannot resolve easily.  It may be a paradox that can’t be logically resolved or a painful experience that the person would rather deny or something that is simply so foreign to everything that the person has come to believe up to that point about reality.  Either way, it’s something so powerful that the mind is incapable of handling it without shutting down, so it partitions itself the way one would partition a hard drive.  This partition is kept separate along with all the related data on the matter until a safe and acceptable resolution can be had.  Medication may curtail the resultant behavior and make the person function within society, but ultimately the only real solution is for the individual to find a way to reunite the two parts of their mind again.

“I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breath a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie’s principle fear is dying alone.  He tells Dr. Thurman that it’s foolish to believe in God if everyone dies alone.  His therapist explains that he is actually an agnostic, not an atheist, since he acknowledges the possibility of God, even if he’s not sure if there’s proof.

We often talk of God’s plan and divine intervention.  In fact, most of the events in Donnie’s life all happen for a reason.  “Deus Ex Machina,” he cries.  For a more thorough explanation of how any why, see this document.  It’s possible that the events of 2012 may be a similar deal with a Tangent Universe being created that could threaten to destroy the world.  It’s also very reminiscent of some of the themes in Inception and Deja Vu.

At the time of my writing this article, I haven’t seen the sequel to it: S. Darko, but I really would love to.  Maybe I’ll even do a post on that one as well.

In the meantime, I hope that anyone who suffers from a life like the one that Donnie Darko had will be able to make it through alright and come to see it, as I have, as nothing more than a rite of passage into an elect group of aware and free  human beings.

As Gretchin says, being weird is meant as a compliment.

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