Author Topic: The Zero Theorem  (Read 1083 times)

Junior

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The Zero Theorem
« on: July 22, 2014, 12:03:17 AM »
Here's my zero theorem. Qohen Leth uses the royal author's we because for the majority of the film he is deliberately nobody and everybody (including, presumably, us in the audience, hence the author's we). He has nothing which distinguishes him from the rest of humanity taken as a whole. He is almost nothing here. He's neither happy nor sad, and he barely registers when compared to the other people around him. He waits for the phone call which will magically turn him into a unique person with a calling and all that jazz. In the meantime, he begins to inhabit roles which he had previously rejected (food eater, lover, father) and towards the end, starts using the singular I. When he plugs in with the newfangled suit it does what Bob told him it would do, find his humanity within himself. He sheds all of the other humans (the final act of the we, I guess) into the black hole at the end of the universe and enters it himself, willingly. At this point he is transferred back to the beach and tests out his uniqueness by being a child (naked, playing with the beach ball) and then changing the world through his own will (messing with the sun, making it set). He is now a full individual, a real person, and able to actually enjoy whatever version of life he is living.

When I was typing his name into google to make sure I spelled it correctly, I noticed that there was a bible connection. Oldkid probably knew this already, but whatevs, I got wikipedia on my side. Here's the summary of Ecclesiastes (the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Qoheleth):

Quote
The ten-verse introduction in verses 1:211 are the words of the frame narrator; they set the mood for what is to follow: Koheleth's message is that all is meaningless.

After the introduction come the words of Koheleth. As king he has experienced everything and done everything, but nothing is ultimately reliable. Death levels all; the only good is to partake of life in the present, for enjoyment is from the hand of God; everything is ordered in time, man is subject to time in contrast to God's eternal character. The world is filled with injustice, which only God will adjudicate; God and humans do not belong in the same realm, and it is therefore necessary to have a right attitude before God. Men should enjoy, but should not be greedy; no-one knows what is good for humanity; righteousness and wisdom escape us. Koheleth reflects on the limits of human power: all people face death, yet life is better than death, and we should enjoy life when we can. The world is full of risk: he gives advice on living with risk, both political and economic. Mortals should take pleasure when they can, for a time may come when no one can. Koheleth's words finish with imagery of nature languishing and humanity marching to the grave.

The frame narrator returns with an epilogue: the words of the wise are hard, but they are applied as the shepherd applies goads and pricks to his flock. The original ending of the book was probably the words: "The end of the matter" (12:13:) but the text we have continues: "Fear God" (a phrase used often in Koheleth's speech) "and keep his commandments" (which he never uses), "for God will bring every deed to judgement."
« Last Edit: July 22, 2014, 12:58:37 AM by Junior »
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Bondo

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Re: The Zero Theorem
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2015, 11:29:27 PM »
I saw "waiting for the call" as going to Heaven and in the process of waiting for the call, Qohen rejects food with flavor, he rejects women, it seems the life of the ascetic and his appearance (plain cloak and shaved head in a land of elaborate fashion) certainly recalls that of monks and the like. He does all this in his pursuit of faith, which at the end of the film Damon's character mocks. But then he I guess gets to go to his heaven? I'm not sure if the film is a call to faith or a mocking of it.

The whole Theorem thing, trying to prove that 0=100% (true story, back in my AP Calc class, I solved a problem ending with the answer 0=1) is the meaningless search for meaning, because there is no meaning. To the degree that we think we find meaning, it changes randomly and crumbles upon itself. And if the meaning is irrelevant and just a distraction, we might as well indulge.

His use of we vs. I seems to me his association with God/spirit...it is within him so he is plural. Attempts are made to get him to abandon that and revert to the I, attempts are made to tempt him with flesh, these could be seen as akin to the temptations of Jesus by the Devil (Damon?)

Junior

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Re: The Zero Theorem
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2015, 01:15:17 AM »
The whole Theorem thing, trying to prove that 0=100% (true story, back in my AP Calc class, I solved a problem ending with the answer 0=1) is the meaningless search for meaning, because there is no meaning. To the degree that we think we find meaning, it changes randomly and crumbles upon itself. And if the meaning is irrelevant and just a distraction, we might as well indulge.

His use of we vs. I seems to me his association with God/spirit...it is within him so he is plural. Attempts are made to get him to abandon that and revert to the I, attempts are made to tempt him with flesh, these could be seen as akin to the temptations of Jesus by the Devil (Damon?)

I'd have to rewatch before I go way in depth on this, but I think I come out to a slightly different version of your response in this first paragraph I've quoted. I agree that the search for meaning is meaningless in the world of the film, but I think it's that realization that allows him to make his own meaning. He rejects all of his anxieties from trying to fit in with some master plan or even society and just becomes whatever he wants to be because why not do that? I do like your version of the I/we thing. That has to be an important element or it wouldn't be there. I still like my version better, though  8).

Anyways, thanks for elaborating a bit. Sorry it caused you to question your other Gilliam experiences! Which ones would you say you're still a fan of? Which ones have you reconsidered in this light?
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Bondo

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Re: The Zero Theorem
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2015, 09:21:35 AM »
12 Monkeys and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus are the ones I'd claim as my top two, with Fisher King in third, and it isn't so much that this film shook my resolve, as that resolve had been becoming shaky to begin with, especially rewatches of those films where I still see why I like them but they also make me go "oy, Gilliam."

Obviously I'm not counting Monty Python in this because that's a bird of a different feather.