I just read an interesting review in the CUNY Graduate Center's Advocate about THE MASTER (2012) wherein Mike Phillips says: "It would seem that the impetus to shoot in 70mm is a fascination with film itself" (Nov. 2012, p. 41), but isn't that kind of... I don't know... both too concise and too vague? Are we sure that's why he did it. That's like saying Mad Men is about the collapse of print media. Maybe it is, but that's just one layer. Then again, how does one deconstruct a film like this without missing some of its broad panorama of meanings? If the film is really about film itself, and the transition from film to video, the loss of clarity, the refraction of image, etc., mustn't it be also about some larger issue in which such a transition figures? You could argue anything is about anything, if you were a master bullshitter, as my dad used to claim I was. Hmmm.
So why not ask the I Ching? Sure, it's kind of similar to those weird pieces like "Ask a Gut-shot cop" in The Onion, but they didn't write the book on it. Who did? Whomever wrote the I Ching. I would guess that true art is without an author, for it comes from our collective unconscious. The artist gives it shape and form, but it's ours, in the end. Aummmmm
The following questions were asked of the I Ching Online:
So... what is THE MASTER really about?
You are a stranger to this situation. It is your attraction to the exotic that has led you here, but you will move on to a new vista when this one has lost its mystique... You don't know the custom here, and it's too easy to cross a line you don't know is there. Because you are the foreigner in this setting, you have no history to acquit you. Watch, listen, study, contemplate, then step lightly but decisively on.
Critics have compared Dodd's cult to Scientology and charlatanism, others believe charlatanism is important to spiritual development since we can't accept new ideas without a little side-show razzmatazz. One which side of the fence do you think Paul Thomas Anderson's sympathies lie?
Heaven and Earth move away from each other. In the ensuing void, the small invade where the great have departed. There is no common meeting ground, so the Superior Person must fall back on his inner worth and decline the rewards offered by the inferior invaders.
A lot of critics were confused by the film, although many were initially put off by There will be Blood as well and now they say that it's a classic by comparison. Do you think they are insecure bourgeoisie to respect only past work that's already stood the test of time and Oscar, rather than going out on a limb in passionate defense of immediate, new work that challenges their way of seeing, their way of thinking? Am I being snobby even asking this question?
Gentle persuasion is the key in this instance. Though the words are soft, their speaker must be firm, calm and confident. Gentle words are worthless if spoken with trepidation. Wordless influence by example is also effective in this situation. All persuasion should be almost unfelt, yet consistent and persistent.
Is there a difference in the end between our 'found' meanings in analyzing a film like THE MASTER and the artist's intention? Shouldn't an artist be a little unconscious of their own work's deeper subtext for it to be successful? Or is it really a cut and dry issue - the Rorschach ink blot is either a woman's sexual parts or its not - where there is no division?
A playful Zephyr dances and delights beneath indulgent Heaven:A Prince who shouts orders but will not walk among his people may as well try to command the four winds. A strong, addictive temptation, much more dangerous than it seems.
"There can be no outsiders because there is no outside"
If you have questions about THE MASTER, send them to me or leave comment and I will put them on this post - or you can consult direct with I Ching Online
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