I don’t watch many movies but I do love Woody Allen’s work. His latest film You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is about a woman whose marriage falls apart, leading her to seek comfort in the supernatural. I haven’t yet had the chance to see it yet, but I plan to.
The New York Times interviewed Woody, asking him questions about topics covered in the film. I just love the guy.
“To me,” Mr. Allen said, “there’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.”
Q. The ideas of psychic powers and past lives, or at least people who believe in them, are central to your latest film. What got you interested in writing about them?
A. I was interested in the concept of faith in something. This sounds so bleak when I say it, but we need some delusions to keep us going. And the people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can’t. I’ve known people who have put their faith in religion and in fortune tellers. So it occurred to me that that was a good character for a movie: a woman who everything had failed for her, and all of a sudden, it turned out that a woman telling her fortune was helping her. The problem is, eventually, she’s in for a rude awakening.
Q. What seems more plausible to you, that we’ve existed in past lives, or that there is a God?
A. Neither seems plausible to me. I have a grim, scientific assessment of it. I just feel, what you see is what you get.
Q. Were you prepared for the firestorm of media coverage you set off by casting Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in your next movie, “Midnight in Paris”?
A. I was very surprised at the level of journalism that occurred in relation to her. She has a small part in the movie — a real part, but it’s a small part. And I shot with her the first day, and then all the papers said she was terrible, and I did 32 takes with her. Of course I didn’t even do 10 takes with her. This was just a magical number that some guy created in a room. Then they printed that her husband came to the set and was angry with her. He came to the set once, and he was delighted. He felt she was a natural actress and couldn’t have been happier.
Q. That would make a good blurb for the movie poster.
A. For some reason, the press wanted to say bad things about her. I don’t know if they had something against the Sarkozys, or it was a better way to sell papers. But the fabrications were so wild and so completely fake, and I wondered to myself, Is this what happens with Afghanistan and the economy and matters of real significance? This is a trivial matter. That’s a longwinded answer to your question: I was not prepared for the amount of press that was attached to the picture because of Madame Sarkozy.
I love Woody’s honesty. This sort of thing goes to show you the quality of journalism within the mainstream media these days. They didn’t even bother sending someone down to talk with Woody, or inquire with others involved in the film as to how good an actress Carla Bruni is. Instead they just make things up and publish it, without the least concern for factual accuracy. This is why I don’t even take the news seriously. I agree with him regarding the media’s coverage of the wars and our economy. I can’t help but think that most of it’s all made up.
As for life and death, I sympathize strongly with his position, but when I hear top physicists like Dr. Stephen Hawking advocating that all possible universes exist simultaneously, I find myself standing back a little thinking, “I’m not really sure what’s going on with life and death.”
If Hawking is right, then when I die, in a weird way I still exist. Every possible Jason still exists and has always existed. I remember having a crush on a girl in high school. Maybe in a parallel universe I end up marrying her, we live together in some suburban household, I work some computer job, and that’s what my life is. I guess that possible universe exists right now, and has always existed. How I would get there and experience it (or even if I’d want to), is a mystery to me. But apparently, somehow, it may well exist. If that’s so, then I really have to rethink what it means to be alive.
I’m becoming pretty knowledgeable in physics, but I’m still nowhere near knowledgeable enough to know whether Hawking is right or not. I haven’t studied M-theory at all. I have a feeling that when I get around to studying all of it within the next few years, I still won’t know what to think of it one way or the other, but we’ll wait and see.
The idea that all possible universes exist concurrently is so bizarre to me, I can’t even wrap my head around it. I can’t even understand half of what’s going on here on planet Earth, and I certainly don’t even remotely understand this universe, much less all the other possible universes. I’m certainly not religious, but if you are to ask me about life and death, I’ll have to reply, “I have no idea.” My position on many of life’s difficult questions is simply, “I don’t know.”
That whole train of thought leads to such incredible conclusions and you’re bound to go insane thinking about it all. If all of these possible realities exist, the question still remains – why am I experiencing this world as Jason, in this body, in this universe, at this time? I don’t know. Have I lived before this? I don’t know. Will I live again? I don’t know. I just don’t know. I don’t understand why my consciousness exists in this body. Why am I experiencing this time-line of all possible time-lines?
I have been entertaining an idea that when matter comes together in certain patterns (such as our brains), somehow consciousness can operate within it and we live as long as that structure holds. If I was to develop lesions in my brain, whatever areas are damaged, I lose various degrees of consciousness. Whatever consciousness may be, it’s very tightly tied to my physical existence, particularly my brain.
Just thinking about it and observing, as a baby grows in the womb the brain seems to develop consciousness gradually. That’s what happened with me. I just sort of woke up one day, just as I do every morning, and was here. I don’t see why it couldn’t happen again, even as a different sort of creature in a different universe. The thing is though, if all possible universes exist simultaneously, then my brain (and all possible variations of it), has always existed and will always exist, and it never came into existence at some time. That whole theory falls to the ground. *Shakes head and throws hands up in the air* I have no idea. I’m an agnostic when it comes to questions about life. I know the bodies we live within evolved; outside of that, I don’t know how or why consciousness enters them.