Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peter Sellars Knows The World's Secrets

As Peter Sellars entered the TFF Student Symposium classroom, a 'zone of coolness' was ushered in with him. That's right. A zone of coolness.

'Coolness' is Sellars' term for a person's aura, their vibe, the energy with which they greet the world; admittedly, this all might sound like a thrust towards bizarre new age philosophies and hippie hoopla, but let's run with it for a while. Let me convince you that Peter Sellars is the most loving, well-intentioned human being one may ever come to know -- Peter Sellars knows the world's secrets and he wants to share them with everyone.

It is not so much that Sellars has uncovered hidden relics or mysteries of human history, but that he has realized evident truths which not everyone is conscious of. Much like Ken Burns' philosophy on film, Sellars pays specific heed to the personal as a window into both a universal understanding and the underlying truth of who we are or are meant to be.

Film, like life, is all about framing -- in the frame, you choose what fits and what doesn't fit. A frame is that through which things are felt, experienced and understood. In Sellars' mind, developing a film is about coaxing its substance out from your nocturnal (ie. subconscious) self and presenting it in the daylight (ie. out in the open). It is about focusing on making what is personal to you, the director and filmmaker, accessible to everyone else -- it is about establishing a dialogue based on the personal which translates to the universal.

Sellars champions experiential knowledge over academic knowledge -- this is to say purely that he is more interested in what is written on a person's heart than on a piece of paper or in a book. As equal part inspiration and mentor, he cites the French philosopher Simone Weil. Sellars' claims that Weil once said something to the tune of 'work (meaning process) is what gives life meaning.' It is not thereby the end result that is the most satisfying, but the journey of getting there that is the true treasure. How true.

Sellars' main point, then, is about finding yourself and staying true to yourself by living actively in the process of life, accomplishing what you set out for yourself and being who you want to be. To this effect, Sellars said something remarkably poignant, that I don't think I will ever forget, if only because it struck such a chord with me personally.
"It's when you're in a miserable state in your life that you really realize what it is you want and who you really are -- also, you realize how to come to that ideal place." -- Peter Sellars (08/29/08)
I don't necessarily want to step up onto my own little soapbox here, but damn it all if Sellars' sentiment here doesn't ring gloriously true for me in my life. But, to a certain extent, I understand what Sellars is saying here based on personal experience. It is the reason the year 2008 was so far different from 2007 -- change needed to be made, and it is still happening. Thank goodness.

Sellars told us that the 21st Century is all about connecting, about being connected, about democratizing not only our technology but our lives in their entirety. He talked about the "gaze that goes both ways," which for Sellars means Darshon, a Buddhist principle of seeing God and having him see you back. For me, I interpreted this as the kinesthetic ability for response in live performance, the ability of performer and spectator to see one another, to be present in the same space at the same time; liveness personified.

Sellars urged us to articulate the world see ourselves living in. He posed an important question to us as a follow-up, a reflection of this sentiment.
"How do you move into a place in your life where all the things you look forward to (ie. dream about) are waiting for you?" -- Peter Sellars (08/29/08)
The answer he gave us to this query was three words long: "Imagine, Create, Live." The energy of one's being directed properly can accomplish what you wish for in your life -- make the effort, speak from your heart, don't deny yourself what it is that you need to become who you are.

Again, our world is all about connecting. After all, even the unconnected things can be connected through the existence of rhyme.

1 comment:

Vera said...

that was the most interesting read ive had in awhile. and please forgive my lack of punctuation, the japanese keyboards are..... different

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