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Waking Life is a 2001 American animated film about the nature of dreams and consciousness. The title is a reference to the philosopher George Santayana's maxim: "Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled."
- Directed and written by Richard Linklater.
- Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. This is where, I think, language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. It had to be easy when it was just simple survival. “Water.” We came up with a sound for that. “Sabretooth tiger right behind you!” We came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting, I think, is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we’re experiencing. What is “frustration”? Or, what is “anger” or “love”? When I say “love” - the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person’s ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain, through their memories of love or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying... and they say yes they understand, but how do I know? Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead - you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed, it’s unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another and we feel that we have connected - and we think we’re understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion... and that feeling may be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.
- For looking at the highlights of human development, you have to look at the evolution of the organism, and then at the development of its interaction with the environment. Evolution of the organism will begin with the evolution of life, proceed through the hominid, coming to the evolution of mankind. Neanderthal, Cro-magnon man. Now interestingly, what you are looking at here are three strings: Biological, Anthropological, development of cities, cultures, and Cultural, which is human expression. Now, what you've seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time scales that's involved here, two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, 100,000 years for mankind as we know it, you begin to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then, when you get to agriculture, when you get to scientific revolution and industrial revolution, you're looking at 10,000 years, 400 years, 150 years. You've seen a further telescoping of this evolutionary time. What that means is as we go through the new evolution, it's going to telescope to the point we should be able to see it manifest itself within our lifetime, within a generation. The new evolution stems from information, and it stems from two types of information: Digital and Analog. Digital is artificial intelligence. The analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism, and you knit the two together with neurobiology. Before, under the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die, and the other would grow and dominate, but under the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, non-competitive grouping, independent from the external. And what is interesting here is that evolution now becomes an individually centered process emanating from the needs and the desires of the individual, and not an external process, a passive process where the individual is just at the whim of the collective. So, you produce a neo-human, okay, with a new individuality, and new consciousness, But that's only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle because as the next cycle proceeds, the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence, as ability piles on ability, the speed changes, until what? Until you reach a crescendo. In a way, it could be imagined as an almost instantaneous fulfillment of human, human and neo-human potential. It could be something totally different. It could be the amplification of the individual, the multiplication of individual existences, parallel existences, now, with the individual no longer restricted by time and space. And the manifestations of this neo-human-type evolution, manifestations could be dramatically counterintuitive. That's the interesting part. The old evolution is cold, it's sterile, it's efficient, and its manifestations are those of social adaptation. You're talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, war, predation. These will be subject to de-emphasis. These will be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm would give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These would the manifestations of the new evolution. And that is what we would hope to see from this. That'd be nice.
Boat Car Guy - Bill Wise
- Anchors aweigh! So what do you think of my little vessel? She's what we call a see-worthy. S-E-E, see with your eyes. I feel like my transport should be an extension of my personality. Voila. And this, this is like my little window to the world, and every minute's a different show. Now I may not understand it. I may not even necessarily agree with it. But I'll tell you what, I accept it and just sort of glide along. You want to keep things on an even keel, I guess is what I'm saying. You want to go with the flow. The sea refuses no river. The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. It saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation - just occupants. That's where you guys come in. It's like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now you may get the eight-pack, you may get the sixteen-pack, but it's all in what you do with the crayons, the colors, that you're given. And don't worry about drawing within the lines or coloring outside the lines. I say color outside the lines, you know what I mean? Color right off the page. Don't box me in! We're in motion to the ocean. We are not land-locked, I'll tell you that. So where do you want out?
- Man wants chaos. In fact, he's got to have it. Depression, strife, riots, murder. All this dread. We're irresistibly drawn to that almost orgiastic state created out of death and destruction. It's in all of us. We revel in it. Sure, the media tries to put a sad face on these things, painting them up as great human tragedies; but we all know the function of the media has never been to eliminate the evils of the world, no! Their job is to persuade us to accept those evils and get used to living with them. The powers that be want us to be passive observers. Hey, you got a match? And they haven't given us any other options outside the occasional, purely symbolic, participatory act of voting. "You want the puppet on the right, or the puppet on the left?" I feel the time has come to project my own inadequacies and dissatisfaction into the sociopolitical and scientific schemes. Let my own lack of a voice be heard. [douses himself in gasoline and sets himself on fire]
Philosophy Professor - Robert C. Solomon
- The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity, is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I'm afraid we're losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it's a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre once interviewed said, he never really felt a day of despair in his life. But one thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance, a feeling on top of it. It's like your life is yours to create. I've read the post-modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction, or as a confluence of forces, or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It's something very concrete. It's you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in the world, and counting. Nevertheless - what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. It makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example. And in short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It's always our decision who we are.
- What are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question and that's this: Which is the most universal human characteristic: fear, or laziness?
- The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because, if you can do that, you can do anything.
- The worst mistake that you can make is to think you're alive when really you're asleep in life's waiting room.
- A thousand years is but an instant. There's nothing new, nothing different; same pattern over and over. The same clouds, same music, the same things I felt an hour or an eternity ago. There's nothing here for me now, nothing at all. Now I remember, this happened to me before. This is why I left. You have begun to find your answers. Although it will seem difficult the rewards will be great. Exercise your human mind as fully as possible knowing that it is only an exercise. Build beautiful artifacts, solve problems, explore the secrets of the physical universe, savor the input from all the senses, filled with joy and sorrow and laughter, empathy, compassion, and tote the emotional memory in your travel bag. I remember where I came from, and how I became human, why I hung around, and now my final departure's scheduled. This way out, escaping velocity. Not just eternity, but Infinity.
Timothy 'Speed' Levitch
- On this bridge, Lorca warns: Life is not a dream. Beware, and beware, and beware. And so many think because then happened, now isn't. But didn't I mention? The ongoing WOW is happening, right now! We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, where even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel starring clowns! This entire thing we're involved with, called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each others' presence. The world is an exam, to see if we can rise into the direct experiences. Our eyesight is here as a test, to see if we can see beyond it, matter is here as a test for our curiosity, doubt is here as an exam for our vitality. Thomas Mann wrote that he would rather participate in life than write a hundred stories. Giacometti was once run down by a car, and he recalled falling into a lucid faint, a sudden exhilaration, as he realized at last, something was happening to him. An assumption developed that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely, which is to say, I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But, the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me, and on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before you drift off, don't forget, which is to say remember, because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting. Lorca, in that same poem said that the Iguana will bite those who do not dream, and as one realizes that one is a dream-figure in another person's dream - That is self-awareness!
- We have got to realize that we are being conditioned on a mass scale. Start challenging this corporate slave state. The 21st century is going to be a new century. Not the century of slavery; not the century of lies and issues of no significance and classism and statism and all the rest of the modes of control. It's going to be the age of human kind standing up for something pure and something right. What a bunch of garbage! ... liberal, democrat, conservative, republican ... It's all there to control you; two sides of the same coin! Two management teams bidding for control of the CEO job of slavery incorporated. The truth is out there in front of you but they lay out this buffet of lies. I'm sick of it; and I am not going to take a bite out of it! Do you got me?!
- Man on the Train: Hey, are you a dreamer?
- The Dreamer: Yeah.
- Man on the Train: Haven't seen too many of you around lately. Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, no one does it anymore. It's not dead it's just that it's been forgotten, removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so nobody knows it exists. And the dreamer is banished to obscurity. Well, I'm trying to change all that, and I hope you are too. By dreaming, every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced, ever. So whatever you do, don't be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.
- Man 3: If the world that we are forced to accept is false and nothing is true, then everything is possible.
- Man 4: On the way to discovering what we love, we will find everything we hate, everything that blocks our path to what we desire.
- Man 2: The comfort will never be comfortable for those who seek what is not on the market. A systematic questioning of the idea of happiness.
- Man 1: We'll cut the vocal chords of every empowered speaker. We'll yank the social symbols through the looking glass. We'll devalue society's currency. To confront the familiar.
- Man 4: Society is a fraud so complete and venal that it demands to be destroyed beyond the power of memory to recall its existence.
- Man 3: Where there is fire we will carry gasoline
- Man 4: Interrupt the continuum of everyday experience and all the normal expectations that go with it.
- Man 2: To live as if something actually depended on one's actions
- Man 1: To rupture the spell of the ideology of commodified consumer society, so our repressed desires of more authentic nature can come forward.
- Man 3: To demonstrate the contrast between what life presently is and what it could be.
- Man 1: To immerse ourselves in the oblivion of actions and know we're making it happen.
- Man 2: There will be an intensity never before known in everyday life to exchange love and hate, life and death, terror and redemption, repulsions and attractions.
- Man 3: An affirmation of freedom so reckless and unqualified, that it amounts to a total denial of every kind of restraint and limitation.
- Pinball Playing Man: And that's what time is. That's what all of history is, this kind of continuous, you know, daydream or distraction. And so I read that, and I was like, 'Well, that's weird.' And then that night, I had a dream, and there was this guy in the dream who was supposed to be a psychic. But I was skeptical. I was like, 'He's not really a psychic' I was just thinking to myself. And then suddenly, I start floating, like levitating up to the ceiling. And as I almost go through the roof, I'm like, 'OK, Mr. Psychic, I believe you. You're a psychic. Put me down, please.' And I float down, and as my feet touch the ground, the psychic turns into this woman in a green dress. And this woman is Lady Gregory. Now, Lady Gregory was Yeats' patron, this, you know, Irish person. And though I'd never seen her image, I was just sure that this was the face of Lady Gregory. So we're walking along, and Lady Gregory turns to me and says, 'Let me explain to you the nature of the universe.' Now, Philip K. Dick is right about time, but he's wrong that it's 50 A.D. Actually, there's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity. And it's an instant in which God is posing a question, and that question is basically, 'Do you wanna, you know, be one with eternity, do you want to be in heaven?' And, we're all saying, 'Nooo thank you, not just yet.' And so time is actually just this constant saying 'No' to God's invitation. I mean, that's what time is. I mean, and it's no more 50 A.D. than it's 2001, you know? I mean, there's just this one instant, and that's what we're always in. And then she tells me that actually this is the narrative of everyone's life. That, you know, behind the phenomenal difference there is but one story, and that's the story of moving from the 'No' to the 'Yes.' All of life is like, 'No thank you, No thank you, No thank you.' And then, ultimately, it's, 'Yes I give in, Yes I accept, Yes I embrace.' I mean, that's the journey. Everyone gets to the 'Yes' in the end, right? So we continued walking, and uh, my dog runs over to me. And so I'm petting him. I'm really happy to see him, you know. He's been dead for years. So I'm petting him and then I realize there's this kind of gross oozing stuff coming out of his stomach. And I look over at Lady Gregory, and she sort of coughs. She's like, 'Oh, excuse me.' And there's vomit like dribbling down her chin, and it smells really bad. And I think, 'Well, wait a second. That's not just the smell of vomit' which is, doesn't smell very good. 'That's the smell of dead person vomit. You know, it's, like, doubly foul.' And then I realized I'm actually in, you know, the land of the dead. And everyone around me was dead. My dog had been dead over ten years. Lady Gregory had been dead a lot longer than that. When I finally woke up, I was like, 'Whoa. That wasn't a dream. That was a visitation to this real place, the land of the dead.'...Oh, man. It was just like one of those, like, life-altering experiences. I mean, I could never really look at the world the same way again after that.
- The Dreamer: I mean, how did you, how did you finally get out of the dream? See, that's my problem. I'm like I'm trapped. I keep, I keep thinking that I'm waking up, but I'm still in a dream. It seems like it's going on forever. I can't get out of it. I wanna wake up for real. How do you really wake up?
- Pinball Playing Man: I don't know. I don't know. I'm not very good at that anymore. But, um, if that's what you're thinkin', I mean, you probably should. I mean, you know, if you can wake up, you should, because, you know, some day, you know, you won't be able to, so, just, uhm, but it's easy, you know - just, just wake up.
- Wiley Wiggins - The Dreamer
- Bill Wise - Boat Car Guy
- Robert C. Solomon - Philosophy Professor
- Kim Krizan - Herself
- Eamonn Healy - Shape-Shifting Man
- J.C. Shakespeare - Burning Man
- Richard Linklater - Pinball Playing Man
- Ethan Hawke - Jesse
- Julie Delpy - Celine
- Alex Jones - Man in Car with P.A.
- Timothy Levitch - Himself