Sunday, June 19, 2016

Roundtable: Cartesius

The panel for this roundtable includes Matt Dorman (MD), Steve Logan (SL), James Mangan (JM), and Josh Taccolini (JT).  We discussed Roberto Rosellini-helmed Cartesius.  The discussion will make more sense and be spoiler-free if one watches Cartesius first.

JT: I want-- no, I want a copy of this recording.  I'm gonna find a use for this.  I'm like, I'm bored out of my mind.

MD: Well, the movie, it was stupid.

VM: So what did you guys think?

JT: That's the night we watched Renee Descartes.  Oh, yeah.

SL: Why was it called Cartesius?

VM: Well she calls him Cartesius at one point in the movie.

MD: Yeah, Renee Descartes is here:  Cartesius.  And that was it.

VM: Yeah, like there's the titular line, the eponymous line.

MD: Yeah it was so stupid.

JM: Scene cut.  "Your daughter died."  "By the way, that very silent woman in the room is my very angry lover."

MD: Because I was never--

JT: Because I'm a terrible husband.

VM: So what, what, what'd y'all?  So like.

MD: Okay Vince, here's my thoughts: Every time people ask him questions, like "Hey can we discuss this?"  "Yes, but I'm leaving in the morning."

VM: (laughing)

MD: The next scene: Well, he's in this place, talking to a bunch of people when, "Oh, how long gonna be here?"  "I'm leaving tomorrow."  Next scene.  It was the entire movie.

VM: He is a creature of habit.  That is sort of the point.

SL: He always slept in.

MD: He always slept in to very crappy, uh, very tiny beds.

JM: He sounded more like a pothead college student more than anything else.

JT: Yeah.

VM: Oh, yeah, yeah.

JT: Unfortunately, yeah, because I feel like the director, like, looked through his works and, like, copied and pasted random inserts from like, "Oh, this, this looks like a important quote.  Let's just, let's just have the main actor just say this.

JM: Like, somebody, like, paid him to like, you know like "So you have a script?"  "Yeah, sure.  I have this--

VM: What was that, and?  They said he read some biographies and such.

JM: That'll eat up some time.

VM: But they said he read some biographies on him but the impression that I got, or at least how the movie portrays Descartes is that he was a lazy person with no direction, total product of privilege.

JM: Kind of like that movie: lazy with no direction.

VM: But like, but like.

MD: It really was.

VM: But like, he was like a total pro--, especially, like, back in that time, you see him walking through all these people who are struggling with life and he's just like "Oh, maybe I'll find my direction in ten years."

JM: I'll bet you he played frisbee.

VM: I mean.

SL: That's.

VM: I means he like the epit-- yeah, exactly.

SL: Laying out on the grass for awhile.

JM: Let's go to the quad and talk.

VM: He's very much a creature of privilege, though.

MD: Well, yeah, he sold his, his inheritance for two thousand florins.

VM: But I assume he, he musta had some other money besides that because it didn't seem like that was a large sum.

MD: Well no, he did join the army reserve, whatever, for a year.

JT: It was an unpaid position.

SL: Well once you were in the-- aren't you-- once you were on the academic world, I'm sure they took care of you.

JT: Yeah.

VM: That is probably largely true.

MD: Yeah, he didn't want to leave that one place after nine years because he liked it there.

JM: 'Cause they had the money.

MD: He didn't have to pay for anything.

VM: Well, the funny thing is he mentions nine years in college.  It remind me of that line from, uh, Tommy Boy.

SL: "Lots of people graduate in seven years."  "Yeah, they're called doctors."

VM: (laughing)

MD: I thought you were going to say "Did you just throw a niner in there?"

VM: (laughing)

JT: They should have showed the scene with the oven.  Apparently he was found locked in an oven at one point.

VM: No kidding.

JT: He went mad, yeah.

SL: It's probably from the lead.

JM: Yeah, tha- tha- that's the whole, like, uh, like, like the stasis, not like stasis, but like uh, like uh, sensory deprivation or whatever.

JT: Yeah, yeah, like his sort of nihilism about the senses.

VM: Aw yeah.

JT: Led him to like, isolate himself from the.

JM: I'm not a skeptic.  I'm just skeptical of everything.

VM: It's funny 'cause the movie has like, th-the narrative line is actually very simplistic, but at the same time.

JM: Was there a narrative?

VM: Oh, there was totally!

JT: I did not follow the narrative.

MD: There was a narrative?

VM: There is, there's a, there was, like, his character.  He had somewhat of a transformation.  His ideas evolved some.

JM: That could have been redone, literally, with cardboard cutouts of humans and then somebody speaking over.

JT: The, the thing about it.

MD: And you could have done it in one hour.

JT:  That, too.

MD: One.

JT: The irony, though, is that, like, as an educational film, it didn't even, like, represent Descartes's ide-- it didn't teach you anything.  What, what?

VM: No there wasn't-- well, no, the thing is.

JM: I feel like I cracked the egg open and never cooked it.

VM:  The thing is-- the ideas.

JM: This could be an omelet. 

VM: The interesting thing is that the idea, like his philosophy didn't have a continuum in the movie, but the character, it was more about exploring the character.

JT: No, it was about scenes where there would literally be a conversation about going somewhere that lasted like five paragraphs.  It's like, it's like, just that one scene!  Like yeah, there were a lot of those.

MD: Once he started going through his twenty-one rules.

VM: But that's showing, but that's like, it was repetitive, but that was like his, showing his character, and, like, him moving.  It's-- it's trying to find a narrative line in someone...

JM: It's like the movement from art imitating life.

VM: But it's also the idea, it's also the idea of trying...

JM: I can at least wrap my head around that.

JT: We're not philosophers, but we are film directors.

VM: But it's at least-- I think the attempt was to create a narrative line around someone who is just living the life of a mind and something that you would not traditionally make a narrative around 'cause there was, like, no action in it.

JT: That's true.  I have, I have a great idea for a film, okay.  This guy did nothing.

MD: Wait, wait, so you're saying let's do a film about nothing.

JT: Three-and-a-half hours.

JM: It's the Seinfeld of philosophical movies.

MD: It is.

JT: We're not really sure what he meant, but these are really cool lines.


VM: But, yeah, and the other thing, uh, well the, one of the themes, 'cause like, I really think the tough thing is like, it's hard to find a line because each-- each, uh, scene, the stuff they're talking about is so different and it's like, if you try to think about the individual ideas, there's like ten million of them, and then at the same time, to some extent, you just have to let the scenes wash over you because the ideas are so.

SL: There's nothing washing.

JM: Wash?  We drowned in it.

VM: Yeah, because like, because the ideas are so huge that you really have to slow, you really have to slow down to think about them and in a way, in a way, it just chugs forward so you don't really have time to.

SL: I, I gotta be honest, I was spent most of the film just reading the subtitles and not actually looking at the direction.

JM: Right.

JT: I know.  I was think-- you know what I was thinking: this actually might be okay if it was in English.

SL: Yeah.

MD: Yeah.

JT: But it's see him talking.

MD: When you're spending three-quarters of the time staring at the screen...

JT: blending into the background.

MD: Why is that table right there?

JM: A lot of those words passed just right through me.

VM: That is the thing.  Like, it's, it's one of the few movies where I really thought I, I spent most of it keeping up with the subtitles 'cause usually, like, foreign movie, they're not that talky.

MD: I have one request, though.  Now that we've seen it again, never.

VM: You only saw the first twenty minutes last time.

MD: I've seen the first hour last time.

JM: I'm putting the kibosh on this one.

VM: I don't know that I believe that.

MD: No.  I definitely made it through the first hour.


VM: I'm saying, since Cartesius was set in a different time era, it's, it's-- you can, you can wonder, is the flat acting bad acting or is that how people behaved.

MD: Well, it was filmed in the fifties.

JM: There would have been a higher suicide rate if it was in the fifties.

VM: No, no, it was in the seventies.

MD: Okay, I've still seen movies made from the seventies that were a lot better acted than that.

VM: Yeah, but is that how people behaved in that era?  Like how many movies about the Renaissance era?

JM: I think this conversation is representative of the film in the sense that it's really going nowhere.

MD: It really is.

JM: Open-ended thought.

JT: No, 'cause we don't have a scene cut.  That's all we're missing.

MD: Scene cut!  Alright, where are we going next?

VM: I mean.

SL: The transitions in that film were terrible.

JM: No, no.  If it had transitions, they would be terrible, but there were no transitions.

 JT: I enjoyed the transitions.  I enjoyed the scene transitions.

VM: But think about it this way.  Think about it this way.  Is, they were able to...

MD: It made you look forward to something happening.  You could tell when it was coming.

JM: It was almost like, that like, that like, choppy, like, uh, YouTube narrative kind of thing where they, like, edit it constantly.

MD: Yeah.

JM: It was kind of like that.  It was almost too, too ahead of its time.

VM: The thing is, though.  If they had had-- the, the thing is if they had had all these scene transitions, it would have added like an extra hour to the movie.  Now, would you have wanted that?

JM: Uhhhhh.

SL: No.  That's true.

VM: Well there you go.

SL: Would I have wanted a more entertaining film?  Maybe.


VM: I guess that's the thing.  The fundamental, one of the big questions is, is can you really, like, is the subject matter just un-salvageably un-cinematic?

JT: Actually.  I never thought of philosophy as good film material.

VM: That's what I was just about to ask.  Is it, like, un-salvageably un-cinematic or, er, is it just the approach?  Because it seems like, like...

SL: Usually in film, aren't philosophies within film just using the, the medium of film?

JT: That, that works.

JM: That works.

JT: But movies about a philosopher.

SL: Yeah.  Movies about a philosopher.

VM: Well that's the challenge.

JM: Once it's thematic, it's not bad.  It's like, oh, okay, you know it's like subtly interwoven into an actual plot and story and I think it's easier for people to extrapolate a philosophy based on that rather than being presented with one.

JT: Have you seen-- have you seen Momento?

JM: Yeah, yeah.

JT: Yeah.

VM: But, yeah, that's-- that's, 'cause that's what I was thinking in regards to this, 'cause normally, like, you know, it's a visual medium, so you want visuals first, not ideas first, and then often, you usually do narrative and you leave, you leave the message, or the philosophy if you will in the subtext.

SL: Honestly, though, I like-- keep going, never mind.

VM: Well, this-- this movie kinda plays on two, both levels because it deals with philosophy directly, but there's still a very subtle narrative line.

JT: I still think...

SL: I-- I think you could have made it a radio show and no one, you would have never been able to tell the difference.

JT: Yep.

JM: Yeah.

MD: Oh, easily.

VM: There's some truth, but I like, I honestly, I really enjoy the imagery.  And like...

JM: The imagery?

VM: Yeah.

MD:  There really wasn't any imagery.

VM: The Renaissance garb, the awesome sets.

JT: It was like a straight play.

SL: Yeah, that's the other thing.  It reminded me of a, like the early...

JT: A period straight play.

SL: fifties-- fifties movies where they basically recorded them all on a sound stage.

VM: Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.

SL: And it was like-- it was like a Broadway play that was put on film.

JT: Right.

JM: Yep.

SL: So in that case, it was behind in its times.

VM: Kind of, but I don't, I mean it's definitely not in a modern.

(some of the guys singing Snow from White Christmas)

VM: I definitley agree that the approach was almost on purpose not super modern, but, uh...


JM: Do you think the director understood what he was going after?


VM: Largely, yes.

SL: That is an excellent question.

JT: I mean like, if he was trying to-- if he was trying to, like, confuse the audience, then he achieved that.

JM: Exit Matt.

MD: I'll see you.  See you guys next Friday?

SL: Yeah.  Yeah.

JM: I think it was advanced, uh, technique.  I think that, like, the director, you know was

JT: Reverse psychology.

JM: Yeah.  It was more like, asking, like the theme was "what do we know?" while presenting us with a whole bunch of thought.

VM: Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.  Yeah I think if I recall the other...

JM: Try to confuse them.

JT: Yeah.

VM: If I recall the other stuff of his that I-- if I recall the other stuff in this series is a little more, uh, it's, uh, it's a little tighter in a way or it's more on-topic.

JT: Here's the thing, though, Vince, so like, one of the things I do is, I argue on Facebook a lot, just for fun, with, like, philosophy groups...

VM: Proceed.

JT: ...And this kind of film is fuel for trolls, okay, that are gonna go on the blog, or on the discussion chat group, "You know, well, Descartes, like, he said this and this and this.  I saw it in that-- this one movie.

VM: You can't-- yeah, exactly, well exactly.  You can't-- you can't say, I mean it's definitely fictional narrative that makes some attempt at showing the way he is, but I wouldn't say it's a replacement for actually reading Descartes if you're interested.

JM: But I think, if anything, it disinterests me to read Descartes.

JT: Now?  Yeah!  I'm sure it does!  I'm sure it does!

VM: Well, that's the question is, because, normally with philosophy it's not about the person.  It's about the ideas.  And so, is to make a movie about a philosopher as opposed to the philosophy-- I mean, are philosophers really interesting enough subject matter for a movie.  I guess that's the real question.  And, maybe you didn't like the approach here or maybe your answer would just be...

JM: A resounding no.

VM:  ..."No" most of the time or nearly all the time.

JT: Maybe Nietzsche, end of life Nietzsche, starting getting addicted to hallucinogens.


SL: Are you still recording this?

VM: Technically.

JT: (laughs) Technically.

JM: This is all the good stuff.

VM: I don't know that we'll have much usable material.

SL: Mm-hm.

JT: You could make a film out of this.

SL: Which would be even more interesting.

SL: You could use all of this audio and then cut it to a film.

JT: You could take a photograph of us here, that would be a backdrop.

JM: Yeah.  Like, just move our mouths just a bit.

JT: That's right.

VM: (laughing like a monkey)

JM: Delivery on-par with a little-known film called Cartesius.

SL: I swear, some of the time, I was looking at, I was trying to look at their lips with the audio and it wasn't syncing.

JM: It-- it, it wasn't syncing at all.

SL: I have a feeling it wasn't the original audio.

VM: Oh, that's right.  They might have shot it in French, actually.

SL: Oh my gosh!

VM: And then-- and then switched it to Italian for Italian television.

SL: And th-- you couldn't find the original French?

VM: I guess it doesn't-- maybe doesn't exist.  'Cause I think, what it was was, they were, like, shooting in France, maybe to some extent and the French were mad 'cause they were gonna not cast a Frenchman to play Descartes and they were like, "Descartes is ours.  We need a Frenchman," and you know, at one point, somebody wanted him to cast an American.

SL: Well that would have been the smart move.

VM: They're like, "We're not having that cultural appropriation.  Descartes is French."


JT: I was a little surprised when I called Vince, and, it's like, about six o'clock and you guys are already starting the movie.

SL: You now understand, right?

JM: Do you think you missed a chunk or something?

JT: (laughter) That's right.

VM: In the beginning, they did talk about the planets.

JM: I think you could visually watch that-- that movie backwards and it would not alter anything.  Like there was like no physical development to anything.

VM: I don't know.  I mean, he says...

SL: The baby does age.

JT: Yeah.

JT: Fast.

JT: Fast.

VM: He gets old-- he gets old after that kid dies.  You can see they, like, put a little more makeup on.  But at any rate, he-- his, even...

JM: His eyebrows aren't black enough.

VM: I'm telling you, there's a character arc there.  It's subtle, but there's a character arc.

JM: Yeah, sure.

VM: And by the end of the movie, he reaches a point where he's like, "I think, therefore I am."  He comes to his signature Descartes iconic line.  Because he starts out with, like, the physical sciences...

JT: Okay Vince, sorry now, I'm sorry, but can we talk about something else.  Anything.

VM: I'm just saying...

JT: I know, I know.  Just, keep going.  In the future.

JM: It would have been better if the first two lines would have been "I think," and then, like, the last three lines were like...

Everyone: Therefore, I am.

JT: No, but the ending was like, I just thought it was fantastic.  I don't know.  It was so weird.

VM: Why are you?

JT: The middle of the scene.  Cut, cut.  Roll, roll.

JM: "That's a take." "What?  I didn't say the line right?"  Who cares?  We'll fix it in post.

VM: But yeah, he comes from-- he comes...

JM: I feel like that's a phrase they said a lot: We'll fix it in post.

SL: No, but there's some of the scenes, there's no cut, right, so they had to do it in one take.

JT: It's true.  The scene where he's having dinner.

VM: Or with a number of tries, but, yeah, it's all in one shot.

JT: The scene where they're having dinner, like, I was watching, I was focusing on the cinematography.  It's something, right.  So halfway through the scene, we get zooming in on the food for a second and then zooming out.

VM: Yeah, yeah.

JM: It was-- it was so, it was so, like, so, like, devoid of any kind of action that that one scene where, like, the horse was racing away from the camera...

JT: Yeah.

JM: Like, that, like-- that like close-up was so shocking.

JT: You know what, though.  It's almost like a exercise in, like, film art.

JM: Right.

VM: But here's the thing, like...

JM: This is the scene.

JT: This is the scene.

JM: This is gonna blow their pants off.

VM: But the thing is-- but the thing is, there's sort, there's sort of a point because like, because it's an ideas movie, you can't overtax the mind with like, a bajillion visuals plus everything.  It would have been overdoing it.

JM: But see, that's-- that's what I feel, like, that's what I feel, like, that's what a good film should do.  It should be a balance of both rather than putting all the weight on one or the other.

VM: Oh yeah, but that's the thing.  Like, if you're gonna-- if your gonna make a movie about Descartes that's a talk fest, you can't also have a ton of visuals going on 'cause that's how I feel like when I watch cable news.  There's too much happening on the screen.  Then they're trying to have intelligent conversations and you get a headache following everything, and, like-- I mean, I think maybe it just comes down to the subject matter.  It may not be cinematic enough inherently.  But if you're gonna have a talk fest, 'cause like you guys said, just following the subtitles was a challenge enough and, like, so that you really couldn't throw a bunch of action on the screen, too.  It's too much clashing.  But that's, like, in a normal movie, though, you play with the visuals more.

JM: I feel like this was every action in every scene.  So, like, Steve is just some observer.  Like Descartes, Descartes's like this.  "I disagree with that."  "Oh, why?  Come straight and speak to us."

JT: "When are you leaving?"

SL: "Wait.  Stay longer."  "I have to leave."  "Okay."

VM: I know that was the funny the funny thing, 'cause when-- 'cause when I saw the movie...

JM: "I'd love to talk to you more about this."  "Nah."

VM: 'Cause when I saw the movie the second time, I was like: All he does is just doubt in different scenarios.  It's like, here's Descartes doubting.  Here he is doubting.  Here he is doubting.  But, like, when I saw it this time, it didn't bother me as much.  I was like, "Hmm."

JT: Props to you man foer watching this twice.

VM: Well, this is my third time, but...

JM: If that director made a movie about Jesus, it'd be like Jesus saying...

VM: He did!  He actually did!  He actually did!

JM: "I have this really good parable about a woman with some coins, but I'm not going to tell you what it is.  Bye.  I'm off to Galilee now."

VM: No, the funny thing is...

JT: Bye.

VM: Well, the funny thing is-- well, the funny thing is, is he actually made a lot of movies that are very emotionally engaging, but this was in his very late career, he made movies in this style.

JT: Yeah, one too many.

SL: He was disengaged from everything else.

VM: But in his late career, like-- like this is almost an entirely, like, this almost very different from his early career.  His early career is significantly more mainstream and much more emotionally driven, but this late stuff, he was really more interested in ideas.

JT: He didn't-- he didn't have to be on-set for this film.

JM: No, Vince.  I feel like...

JT: Like, send in a paycheck.  Here's-- here's, here's the direction, okay, you know, "Places.  Roll."

JM: Like it, the use of the medium was an insult to cinema.  I'm gonna use a very, very, like, versatile medium and not use any of its strong suits.

VM: I think that's a very fair point.  I mean-- it's definitely, I...

JM: It's like turning a Michael Bay film into a book.  It's like, "Okay.  I kind of get it," but it's the wrong medium.

VM: Yeah, yeah, no, I understand.  I actually kind of agree.  I mean, personally, I'm-- I don't mind sitting through something more mellow so it didn't bother me as much.

JM: It was catatonic.  It was vegetative.  It wasn't mellow.

VM: But I wouldn't watch something like that all the time.

JM: Opium gangs have more spirit and character than that film.

JT: Poppy seed muffins.

VM: But it is interesting, 'cause like, yeah, I guess that's the thing, like, it's one thing to look at ideas, but exploring the person behind them is not necessarily interesting.

JM: But I feel like-- I feel like the director's goal was to, like, try to explore the ideas as opposed to Descartes.

VM: Yes...

JM: It- it just, like...

VM: It's definitely a little of both, but I do think as a-- as a medium for, as for the exploring ideas, it's like Josh was saying, there's not enough continuity between the ideas.  It was so all over the map...

JM: Literally, by the way.

VM: ...that in the macro, you couldn't really follow the individual threads, and...

JT: It was just the intro paragraph for, like, all of his major works.

VM: Yeah, yeah.

JT: Pull this out, some...

VM: But, like, I guess, the overall thread...

JM: It's the spark notes of...

JT: Yeah.  It was.  It was.

VM: If there was a broad thread, I guess, certainly the doubt came through.  Certainly, he was a scientific mind.  He was trying to separate science and philosophy and theology and not-- not...

JM: But I feel like that's all he said, though is like, "I'm going to separate these," and he never went into any real depth.

JT: We didn't even get his arguments, even, like.

VM: Well, that was the thing.  That's part of the character was that he was a slacker who didn't get anywhere, he wasn't very creative, at least from what I gather from this, he-- he could have been way more productive, but he wasn't, and he was so indecisive that he never did anything useful.  He was just kind of a narcissist caught in his own mind.

JT: Vince, this is my theory, okay.

VM: Okay.

JT: Correct me if I'm wrong.  This is my theory.  He tried to read Discourse on Method.  That didn't wok out very well, so he's like, "Do you know what?  Screw this.  This is the Descartes that I want to see on film.

VM: (laughing)

JT: This is my Descartes.  We're gonna do, like, Descartes asterisk.  Run with that.

VM: Well, honestly, you'd probably know more about it than me 'cause I haven't read much about Descartes, but, uh...

JT: Yeah, I'm obviously...

VM: More knowledgeable on the subject matter.  But, yeah, uh-- I fogot what I was thinking.  Oh yeah, but it said, well I read, in the little booklet that comes with the-- the movie, the disc, and they said he read some biography of him and he said...

JM: Funny, the director read the booklet on Descartes, too.

JT: That's right.

VM: But the direc-- but they said the director thought Descartes was basically kind of a jerk and a loser and not very likeable, but he wanted to make a movie about him because he was really smart and that's basically this whole series is-- the idea was, he's just making stuff about great thinkers and that was the part that-- that interested him and some of it was, like, the relationship between the intellectual life and how you are as a person, and some of it was, like, how nobody accepted Descartes's ideas because he was a weirdo in person.

JT: Okay, but you could-- okay.  That's true, but, look, Vince, this my theory, okay.

VM: Okay.

JT: Correct me if I'm wrong.  This is my theory.  He tried to read Discourse on Method.  That didn't work out very well, so he's like "Do you know what?  Screw this.  This is the Descartes that I want to see on film."

VM: (laughing)

JT: Okay, This is my Descartes.  We're gonna do, like, Descartes asterisk.  Run with that.

VM: Well, honestly, you'd probably know more about it than me 'cause I haven't read much Descartes, but, uh...

JT: Yeah, I'm obviously...

VM: More knowledgeable on the subject matter.  But yeah, but, uh.  I forgot what I was thinking.  Oh yeah, but it said, well I read, in the little booklet that comes with the-- the movie, the disc, and they said he read some biography of him and he said...

JM: Funny, the director read the booklet on Descartes, too.

JT: That's right.

VM: But the direc-- but they said the director thought Descartes was basically kind of a jerk and a loser and not very likable, but he wanted to make a movie about him because he was really smart and that's basically this whole series is-- the idea was, he's just making stuff about great thinkers  and that was the part that-- that interested him and some of it was, like, the relationship between the intellectual life and how you are as a person and some of it was, like, how nobody accepted Descartes's ideas because he was a weirdo in person.

JT: Okay, but you could, okay-- that's true, but look...

JM: Look, it really skipped over the in-person, then.

JT: You could do-- You could do an academic film on Descartes and actually make it quite interesting, to anyone that cares because if you even know a little about Descartes, you know that, like, his treatises that were published basically shook up the Western Hemisphere educational system and was the start of the Scientific Revolution and Modernism and atheism.  Like, he-- he begins the downfall of Christian philosophy in the West.  Like it's a pretty-- he's a pretty impactful character.

VM: Yeah.

JT: But I didn't get that at all from the film.

SL: Yeah.

VM: Yeah that's true.  It is very-- in that sense, it's kinda limited and you get the impression, like-- I got the impression from the movie that he was kinda Catholic, b ut it was somewhat-- it was largely expediency and just a matter of the times.

JT: No.  He was-- he was a very devout Catholic-- I mean, he went on a pilgrimage to a Marian apparition site.

VM: Mm-hm.

JM: Which is pretty much the irony of everything that he did, I feel.

JT: Yeah.  Yeah.

VM: Yeah, yeah.

SL: He also seemed like he-- he, well at least in the film, it made him seem like he was worried about getting persecuted because he did love the Church, so he was like, "I'm just never going to comment on theology because I don't want to get thrown in the tower like Galileo did.

VM: Yeah, I mean, yeah-- there is sort of two strains.  I guess, it's...

JM: Like, the most interesting parts are where they reference Galileo.

JT: Yeah.

VM: Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.

JM: That's, like, the only acting is like, when he, there's, like, some noticeable fear, you're like, "Oh, look.  He actually feels something.

JT: He feels something.  Yeah, that's right, yeah.

JM: He knows that there could be, like, negative repurcussions to what he's about to say.  Then that scene abruptly ends.  And then we're left with a cigar store Indian parroting off, uh...

VM: But it's interesting, 'cause like, well, part of it, like, he's definitely flat, but part of that's the character-- he's like-- he's so, he's academic to a fault, you know what I mean, and, like, he's incapable of being a normal person almost, cause that's like every convers-- nearly every conversation in the movie, is, uh, is just like, academic almost.

JT: Yeah, but did you get the impression, watching the film, that he's a genius?

VM: No.  I wouldn't go that far.

JT: I definitely did not get that impression.

VM: No.  I wouldn't go that far, definitely not.  Uh, I got the impression that he was kinda smart, but he was a wasted talent because he seemed to be a lazy person without direction and a bit of a narcissist caught up in hi9s own ideas to a fault, and then he was kinda right, but he was also-- he replaced one extreme with another maybe.

JT: Yeah, but it-- in reality, he's like Alain Turing mixed with, like, uh, you know, some famous 19th century philosopher that.

VM: Yeah, yeah.

JT: That's who he is.  You know, like, he started his own mathematical system.


VM: Yeah, I guess that's true, I mean.  I guess that I just have a tendency that if I enjoy something, I just kind of enjoy it and whatever and, but at the same time, I can be analytical, too, so, but yeah, you're definitely, I think you're definitely right that it was at once long and limited.  And, like, the fact that he explored, I don't know, the fact that so many ideas were explored, but so cursory-- in such a cursory way, it distracted from the very subtle narrative line, but it also didn't get you into those ideas a lot, but the question is, like, what exactly was he trying to represent, but I-- it's true, if you look, like-- a figure like Descartes, he's kind of a bigger deal than the movie makes him look.

JT: He is.  Yeah.  For one example: Descartes's theory about the human person is that we're made up of the mind and the body, but the body is just a machine and that's what he thought about all of the physical world.

VM: Oh yeah, 'cause that's what he says about the baby.

JT: But what ends up happening is that through the Scientific Revolution, we start getting more questions about neuroscience.  The part of humanity that is considered by Descartes to be spiritual and immaterial disappears and so now we're left with our theories today are, like, that we're just, you know, animals.

VM: Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.

JT: ... well-developed brain.

VM: Mm-hm.  Mm-hm.

SL: Animals that can reason.

JT: Right, yeah.

SL: Which in itself would not make us animals.

JT: Yeah, I know.  Yeah, we have a-- we have a really big faith right now in, like, neuroscience's ability to discover consciousness by poking at the brain, figuring where the neurons are firing, and so a lot of people believe that, like, there's nothing more to us than, uh, neurons firing processors.

JM: Yeah.  Well on that note I'm gonna go to Holland and lock myself in an oven.

SL: I, too, will leave.

JT: Fair enough.

VM: Fair enough.

JT: This was awesome, Vince.

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