(1) : usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) : an illuminating discovery
(4) : a revealing scene or moment

In the self referential film – Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman (of whom, I don’t think so highly, by the way) says:
…but what if a writer is attempting to create a story where nothing much happens, where people don’t change, they don’t have any epiphanies. They struggle and are frustrated and nothing is resolved. More a reflection of the real world…

Some of these epiphanies dawn on to me, as I lead my life, various pieces of my mental jigsaw puzzle fall into place, and theories and events make sense. In the past, some have left me shocked, they have shown me my darker side. Some have flattered me. Some, I didn’t accept; reason told me they were true, but I just didn’t accept them. This “I” which is devoid of reason, this “I” is an interesting being.

Of all these moments of clarity: some get chosen, and become principles; others….well, others become nothing.

Each epiphany is also accompanied by the elation of having discovered something about myself. This elation is independent of whether the epiphany itself is flattering or not. This leads me to believe that a part of me gets happy even if it discovers that the rest of me is disgusting, despicable, not-upto-the-mark, or pathetic. This happy-to-have-known-something-new part, lets call it the audience. The moment the nature of an epiphany is identified: good, bad, flattering, disgusting – another part of me wants to keep it, or change it, or shed it, or in the worst case, forget it. Lets call it the critic. There is a part of me whose acts have lead to epiphanies, whose acts have kept the audience happy, on whom the critic will try to enforce its viewpoints, lets call it the actor. Further on, I lead more life – according to the principles I have made. The part of me which directs life, lets call it the director. The director has the scene in mind, knows what the critic wants, and makes the actor act accordingly.

Some questions remain unanswered:

– Where does the scene come from?
– Are these the only players in the arena?
– What role does time play? Is there a feedback loop that goes beyond the critic?
– Does the actor have to exist? Can principles be built without stimulants?

Stefan Kanfer said that – Philosophy is concerned with two matters: Soluble questions that are trivial, and crucial questions that are insoluble.

Charlie is obviously wrong when he says that the real world doesn’t have epiphanies. He wants to believe that life is normal, and boring, and has frustrations which go unresolved. Agreed that my epiphanies are not grand enough to make me change the course of my life visibly. I still contend that innocuous conversations, thoughtful films, great books, games nature plays, etc. do bring about epiphanies in my life; some of which have gone on to become principles.

Even the pilots which went on to become nothing, I enjoyed even those.

Yours sincerely,
Donald Kaufman

8 thoughts on “Adaptation

  1. 1)
    We can have the music director if you are a musically inclined person and have a song for any emotional moment….You can be Kurt Cobain if you think your life is a helpless mess and sing a song like Lithium ….or if you are in a mushy mood and in love with a village girl , bring a harmonium and sing “Gori Tera Gaao bada pyara” or if you want to show off to that village girl sing “Oorinda bandanu Mr.Maaranu” whatever!

    You can also be a clap boy…or a “fitting master”…..fitting itbittu spot inda odi hogodhu ! ella maja togobahudu….a le Narada Maharishi

    You can be the makeup boy if you are a hen-pecked husband or lover….catering to the female ego eager to flaun her feminity

    or you can be a comedian , thinking of a joke regardless of whether you are in a funeral or a party featuring stiff lipped people…..

    You can be anything under the sun…..

    Current Music: The Wonders – Do that thing you do

    By the way I saw that Kauffman movie and it didnt appeal to me ….But dont miss “Haseena”….Sakaththaagi ide….

  2. I think the question you are asking is at the center of a quest which many people dont want to embark upon. Some are not able to fathom the revelations that come their way, while some are just not insightful enough
    The ‘I’ that you refer to is best described as the ego. This ego masks the ‘You’ from the ultimate reality.As Elvis once sang in “Are you lonesome tonight”, “They say that the world’s a stage in which we play a part”.
    The cycle of life and death of the ego is akin to a series of plays. Each with a different audience, each with a different troupe, each with a different stageplay. But, essentially the actor remains the same. All the other elements only serve to serve him with epiphanies, until one day, there is no stage, there is no audience. The actor dies. Reality dawns

  3. I don’t believe that human mind, even in colossal quantities, doesn’t have the power to fully understand itself or the world. First of all I think there is a difference between the way the world operates (both animate and inanimate) and the way human brain comprehends it. In essence, human cognition is somewhere finite, somewhat discrete (although much more analog than the computer) and the infiniteness (or shall we say indefiniteness) of the world can never be accurately modeled in human thought.

    Take money for instance. It’s presumably a simple tool to quantify labor and goods and to facilitate their exchange. We have modeled it as a number with a unit. (dollar, euro et al.) But have we really understood the nature of money? Why is there a difference between exchange rates purchasing power parities? When money is an absolute quantifier of things, why are currency exchange rates volatile? If money is not an absolute quantifier, what’s the use of it anyway? How can governments run on deficits while individuals can’t? How could America come out of the great depression by reducing productivity levels rather than increasing it?

    I don’t undermine the work of the Friedmans, Ricardos and Keyneses of the world. They have done a decent job.

    If money is so complicated think of ourselves? It’s a long time since I embarked on trek to discover myself. I’m still trekking without success. The problem is one of plenty. I have been discovering so much that it is impossible, if not imponderable to put it all in place. In my perceptions, I switch from Citizen Kane to ‘citizen’. I’m looking to end the journey, regardless of where I stand vis a vis my supposed destination.

    Mate, I suggest, there are still ways out of epistemology, even after you’ve strayed into it’s confines, willfully, but mistakenly.

  4. As in a chinese puzzle, many pieces are hard to place, so there are some unfortunate fellows who can never slip into their proper angles, and thus the whole puzzle becomes a puzzle indeed, which is the precise condition of the greatest puzzle in the world.

  5. @Sudeep: I love that Kokila Mohan song. Quite a trip. I was thinking that I could be the poli lyricist, and come up with superb songs for the likes of Shilpa Shetty.

    @Srini: Hmmmm, that requires more serious thought. Reality dawns to whom, btw?

    @Samba: I know you hate my forays into the meta, and now, epistemology; but you have to cut short your verbosity maga. You could have as well just said that “money is a complicated business, imagine life” and I would have gotten the point. Whether my forays into the world of epistemology is mistaken or not, lets see after I make some headway.

    @Venus: Touche.

  6. Cool πŸ™‚
    …and who is this who is seeing the actor, director and everybody and saying all these things ? πŸ˜‰

    well, I have heard in the philosophy class ( I attend one just for fun in my institute though I am a supposedly technical person) that this theory of seperating body and mind and seeing a person as a man within a man (well, yours is men within a man) started with Des Cartes (I hope i got the spelling right) .. and I have myself read Kant and a whole school of German philosophers who develop on this body and mind theory..
    But, the prof said in west, they gave up this man within man theory because it became man within man within man within …. πŸ™‚ I don’t know..

    Sorry about the nonsense But, really liked your piece and thought I should say something, even if it is totally irrelevant.. πŸ˜€

    BTW, I really liked the description of philosophy that answers some questions which are trivial and doesn’t answer any imp questions.. πŸ™‚

    I agree But, I think it is still a inseperable stream …

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