Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Last night, I watched the movie Julia, a movie I have seen many times since it was first released in 1978. Old Lillian fishing from a rowboat as dusk settles over the lake, Lillian throwing her typewriter out the window as she tries to complete her first play, Nazism ascending during the dark and brutal days prior to World War II, Dash telling Lillian her play is the best that has been written in years, the heroic Julia renouncing her wealth and brilliant future for the best of all causes—the saving of human lives in Nazi Germany, and Lillian overcoming her fear to help her best friend Julia always hook me into watching it again no matter how many times I've seen it.

The movie is based on Lillian Hellman’s memoir, Pentimento, whose truth is contested. The truth of it does not bother me at all. History and our places in it will always be contested ground; we dispute the historical truth within our own souls. The search for meaning counts too; melancholy suffuses our souls when we fail to find the meaning of events most important to us. We bump up against a limit just as we do when we tackle other difficult problems. Meaning is hidden from us. We must dig for it, and no one knows exactly where to dig despite dogmas, doctrines, and assertions contradicted by actions. We indulge in certainties, and deny pastiche as a way to create meaning; thereby assuring that meaning will elude us.

Our fate is to know and not know.


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