Sunday, December 4, 2016

Moana's Call: Remembering the World

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the new Disney movie Moana. If you haven't seen it, you really should, and you really shouldn't read this post until you do.

Last night, I watched the recently released Disney movie Moana - the story of a girl who gets called across the ocean to save the world. It's really important in lots of ways, I realized: not only does it have a strong female protagonist (Moana) with no love interest, but both she and the other main character (Maui) never overcome their trials using brute force. They always use cunning, acting more like an Odysseus than a Hercules.

But I immediately realized that Moana is one of the most important movies that has been released in the last few years. Not because of the movie's cinematic qualities or even because of how good of a movie it is. The movie is so crucial to us because it helps us all remember what we've forgotten. What is that? If I could say it in a few words, the movie wouldn't have been so necessary. So let me do it in more than a few.

The Soul of the World

The world has a soul. This Soul is the luster of all living things: the shimmer of fractured sunlight on a creek, the damp scent that hints of a thunderstorm, the virgin snow of the morning after a blizzard. Without the Soul of the World, the world gets shoved beneath our concepts. For the world is particular: never are there "trees" or "flowers" but always "that tree, the one with the bark like elephant's skin," or "that flower, the one with silky petals." Our concepts generalize, but the world is never general. As Alan Watts once pointed out, even though we try to make it fit a grid, the world "wiggles."

But we've forgotten it. The Soul of the World longs to be seen; its sheen and color are hidden in darkness unless they become appreciated, become noticed. To notice the world is to remember it. And by remembering the world in this way, the world remembers itself, through us. But we have shirked that responsibility. Because we push the world's wildness into our conceptual framework, we've forgotten that the world has a soul. And so has the world.

Remember Her

This is the first thing Moana helps us remember: that the world is in peril. In the movie, a blackness spreads across the ocean, poisoning the coconuts, driving away the fish, making dead what was once alive. It seems like the end of the world, just as the real-life world seems to be ending. But in truth, the world isn't dead or dying but only amnesiac. Like in Moana, the world has forgotten who she is. We've stolen the heart out of her chest, carrying it like booty to the only place we think something like a soul still exists: the prison of our own skulls. The aliveness of bark, dragonfly wings, and the scent of rain - what we should ensoul - has retreated into this bony globe. And deprived of soul - her very heart - the world becomes the soulless, indifferent thing we imagine her to be.

The world is scared and alone. She doesn't even think she exists. I have tears coming to my eyes as I write this because I feel her pain, as I have before. We have beaten her, abused her, raped her. We must stop. We must return to her the heart we have stolen. Not for our sake, but for hers - the bruised woman trapped in the closet of our egoism.

Moana is a glimmer of remembrance. With this film, many people, if only dimly, see the plight of the World Soul for the first time. We must feed this spark. And so I urge you: remember. See the sky's blueness. See the sadness in a dog's eyes. Hear the stillnesss of a December night. We must let the World know that we see her. Look her - the very Soul of the world - in the eyes and say:
I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name.They have stolen the heart from inside you.But this does not define you.This is not who you are.You know who you are.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I saw Moana yesterday and I was reminded of that truth once again. I loved the scene when she spoke with her Grandma on the sea and she said, "the voice that's calling me has been inside me" If we ever hope to hear the world, we must listen. Please keep it up. :)