Hang with me past the first paragraph on this one. I am actually going somewhere with this.
For Christmas, my wife gave me an awesome book that I’ve been reading in my free time. It’s basically an extended criticism (not in a bad way) of one of my favorite filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson. Early in the book the author (Jason Sperb) identifies what he sees as one of PTA’s primary themes in his work: the arbitrariness of life. He thinks that Anderson’s films give off the sense that things happen in life without reason or cause and, perhaps, that life is not fair. Sperb (the author) critiques this theme. Many of Anderson’s characters are fairly well-off, middle-class Americans. Sperb seems to think that it is too convenient for characters who are, in comparison to most of the world, very wealthy to believe that life can be arbitrary or unfair. He seems to imply that people who have all their material needs met (food, shelter, etc.) have no legitimate gripe about life’s fairness and, in this way, doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for the ways in which Anderson’s work has explored this theme.
Somehow, this has got me thinking about my own life. I spend a lot of time thinking about the arbitrariness and, at times, perhaps the unfairness of life. I do not personally feel that I have been the victim of much that is either arbitrary or unfair, but I do see it in the lives of others. I know a lot of people who have suffered great losses in a large variety of ways. However, after reading this passage in this book, it makes me wonder, do these people I love and care about have a legitimate gripe? Are we so privileged in this country that we’ve lost all perspective? Does having food, shelter, and safety make us greedy for wanting more? For wanting family to live? For wanting the addicted to be free? For wanting people to have a way out of abuse or trauma?
Maybe it is a kind of greed. I don’t know. I want to give that thought a fair shot and spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about it. Perhaps it will give me a different perspective on life.
What are your initial thoughts?