Feat. The Music of Cold War Kids, and Earth, Wind & Fire (In a Special EFC Music Video!)
“You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole, and you’ve spent your whole life trying to widen that keyhole – to see more, to know more. And now, upon hearing that it can be widened, in ways you can’t imagine, you reject the possibility.”
The famed mythologist, Joseph Campbell, said that Step #1 in The Hero’s Journey is The Call to Adventure. The caller, of course, is The Universe, and it wants the hero to undergo a transformative experience of some kind. But the hero must pick up the phone in order for the journey to commence.
Now, if the hero is paying attention, in other words, if he is present for the events and people in his life, the call might be a mere tickle – perhaps a suggestion made by a friend or mentor, or a free ride offered to a school or an exotic destination. If The Hero is not paying attention, however, the call might come in the form of a sledge hammer.
Enter Stephen Strange, our hero who unfortunately receives the latter version of the call. Freeze the camera.
(Assumes The Voice of Twilight Zone narrator, Rod Serling). Portrait of an egotistical neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange, a sparse little man who feeds off his self delusions, and finds himself perpetually hungry for admiration from his colleagues.
A man who has spent his entire life looking through a keyhole, out upon a universe that revolves around him, only to wonder why it passes him by without offering so much as a glimpse.
In fact, the glimpse he receives is of a different kind. It simmers in a cup of herbal tea, in a shotgun shack on the other side of the world. But to drink, this “shining star’s” gravity must first be reduced to terrestrial proportion, his hands made to let go of the illusory wheel of control to which he so desperately clings.
In just a few moments, Stephen Strange, in the driver’s seat of his Lamborghini automobile, will set out upon on a dark and winding road, effectively putting himself on a collision course with The Twilight Zone. (DUN DUN DUH…)
Disney’s Dr. Strange (2016) offers us two stories for the price of one. The first is about a gifted neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who endures a harrowing car accident from which he must find his way back.
Over the course of his difficult journey, he finds enlightenment, under the guidance of a Himilayan mystic known as The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and her disciple Master Mordo (Chiwetel Eijiofor).
The second, is the origin story of the Marvel comic book superhero, Dr. Strange, and his clash with the forces of darkness, including Master Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).
So, as Pi Patel asks in Life of Pi, “Which story do you prefer?”
Disney’s answer was, the one with the tiger. I.e., the one where Dr. Strange conjures spells, traverses dimensions, and goes Mystical Ninja on the bad guys, as he flies around in his trusty Cloak of Levitation.
Although the second story takes precedent in the film, I happen to prefer the first one, particularly because I believe it serves as an insightful narrative about the potential of the human mind, and the power of belief.
There is nothing “magical” about our mind, per se. And yet, its possibilities are far greater than we tend to appreciate, in ordinary states of consciousness, especially.
How is it, for example, that a person can voluntarily hold his breath for over 20 minutes? Memorize the precise order of tens of thousands of random digits? Or routinely experience love of the kind that makes a person weep hysterically for the welfare of another organism?
It is true, individuals have accomplished such feats. To write them off as freaks of nature, geniuses, or emotional basket cases, is a cop-out, I believe. For, many are endowed with much the same bodily hardware as ourselves.
What if the primary difference between ordinary people, and “extraordinary” people, is software? What if extraordinary individuals have acquired knowledge and training that we have not? Information not only of, and related to technique, but of the workings of the mind, for the purpose of hacking it?
In the movie, The Ancient One, purports to be able to “re-orient the spirit to better heal the body.” Dr. Strange is skeptical of her immaterialist philosophy, to say the least, since it goes against everything he learned in Western Medical School.
He meets her with incredulous eyes at her hermitage in Kamar-Taj, Nepal, and demands to know how she healed his colleague’s spinal chord injury, which he had deemed impossible to repair. “What if I told you that your own body could be convinced to put itself back together?” She replies. “He couldn’t walk. I convinced him that he could.”
Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying I believe in the kind of miracles The Ancient One pedals in this film. I’m not saying it is possible to heal a severed spine simply by meditating.
What I am trying to say is that we will never realize what is possible if we cannot first imagine it, visualize it. In other words, we must first have the glimpse. And in order to have the glimpse, we must become acquainted with our minds through deliberate training. This is a topic I plan to address much more in future posts.
For now, I’ll leave you with a brief anecdote about a man who revolutionized our understanding of reality in the early half of the 20th century. His name was Albert Einstein. He figured out, among other things, that forward time travel, i.e., the kind that occurs in the original Planet of The Apes, is a thing. All you have to do is drive really fast! If you do, you will age at a slower rate than everyone else who is standing still.
How did Einstein figure out relativity? You guessed it: with his imagination. He was able to imagine himself riding a beam of light to the moon, as the hands on an Earth clock (relative to him) slowed to a crawl.
It’s hard to fathom, I know. But Einstein’s theories have since been proven correct by some of the most elegant scientific experiments ever hatched. However, the key here is, he saw the truth before he or anybody else could prove it.
What might you see if you could tap into your own imagination? What adventure beckons you? “What mysteries lie beyond the reach of your senses?.. Who are you in this vast multiverse, Mr. Strange?”
EFC 2.07 Music Video – Feat. “Love is Mystical” by Cold War Kids
Please let me know if you are unable to access the video above. I fear Disney will block this. If it doesn’t work, try this one:
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/229460308″>EFC 2.07 (V2) – Dr. Strange (Feat. Cold War Kids)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user69943899″>Jason Lombardo</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Director: Scott Derrickson (Sinister)
Writers: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill. Based on the Marvel comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Eijiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen
The Inside Out: Joy (30), Anger (18), Sadness (14), Fear (14), Disgust (4).
Dr. Strange will return to Experience Film…
~ For my father and hero, Eric, who is trying to find his own way back.