Seeing a movie by oneself is always, for me, magical. I regard it as a religious observance, and I guess doubly so when the movie is so religiously themed, as was The Coen Brother’s latest film, A Serious Man.
The Book of Job is my favorite book in the bible, and possibly my favorite piece of literature in general. The film is said to be a loose adaptation. I think so. Inexplicable things happen, characters have weird motives and there are unexplained plot lines. The Jewish God and his actions can’t be explained, not by Rabbi’s, not by weird Yiddish folklore, tornados, or anything else thrown at us. The movie never mentions Job. Not once. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Coen brothers try to claim in interviews they’ve never read it.
I want to believe in God. Save a brief period in high school when Atheism was bad ass, I always have. But God seems so paternalistic, so made up, simple, imaginary and illusive that believing in him seems to me as arbitrary as believing in … I don’t know, something similarly unprovable. People in other universes. Pragmatically though, a world governed by some other agent, where unrelated events have meaning and hint at deep truths about the course that your life should take, or that you have your own personal destiny, this seems to me better than the world as a cold, dead place. And I know it’s asking a lot, and I’m not trying to be the female version of Job here, but does she/he have to be so mysterious? Couldn’t we catch a glimpse? Wouldn’t it make the game more fun?
I practice buddhism, poorly. I once meditated for ten days, and in buddhist meditation, the idea is to think of nothing, or the breathe, which is like nothing, but secretly I wanted to think of God. I wanted him/her to give me a brand new insight, something I didn’t already know or hadn’t already felt intuitively before, and it didn’t happen. If when I sat down to meditate, I was actually trying to think of “God” instead of nothing, would it be any less frustrating? I wondered if the things I was supposed to realize during those ten days never came to me because I already know them, and always have. It’s a little egotistical, maybe, but the thought persists.
So I saw the movie by myself, and it was sort of wicked, because I have friends that will want to see it, and I know that later they’ll all go without me, and I’ll be sad and they’ll be sad, but I needed to be by myself. The indie theater in my neighborhood is right after a bridge that goes over a river. I rode my bike there and back and I was all by myself, and on the way home I thought of these words, and now I’m typing them out, and thanks to the Coen brothers, I’m a secret Jew. The end.