Mike Leigh explores Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner is a brilliant movie in that it does through the director’s choices exactly what Turner did in his painting. In traditional movies, there is a steady through line. In biographies the trajectory of the primary character’s life forms a structure and the audience follows the plot to the end of the movie.

 

sky lifts

The movie that I saw tonight presented fragmented stories framed separately from one another much as if we were walking through the Royal Academy’s yearly exhibition. These side scenarios are framed with importance.

Turner stands on a boat deck and a harsh faced woman refuses to interact with the man standing next to her. Her extremely broad, flat face is angry and she pulls away from him.

Turner sits sketching in a drawing room and one sister is singing. Another sister who is silly and exuberant flies into the room. They have an exchange. A deformed, unnaturally small man gets angry after a flirtatious song and storms out of the room.
In an earlier scene, the artist sings a song with a young rich, plain woman at the pianoforte. There is an exchange that is suggestive that there is more between them, a past acquaintance, a shared experience of life which the movie audience is not privy to.

We have the feeling that there is a completeness in the unfolding of that thread of others’ lives that is running past Turner’s as he sits and sketches or stands and observes.The use of extras to create scenarios which have begun at some point in time and intersect with the narrative of Turner’s life give unique substance to what would be just background fill with another director at the helm.

In a reversal of the practice of dramatic construction, story after story is revealed in mere minutes of film. Yet Turner’s story is not focused on a linear telling of either the artist’s biography or an exploration of his experience of finding his artistic voice. Each additional bit of information is given in a short exchange. But there is no effort to have a flow.

Even the aspects of his life that are revealed are created as framed, expressionistic moments. His guilt about his daughter’s death shows only in his reddened hands twisted behind his back in a grotesque grasping. His black coat and stooped shape blends into the black of his wife and daughter’s clothing so that the visual emphasis is greater.

In one scene as he is leaving his housekeeper and sometimes sexual partner, she helps him on with his coat. The next scene is of his arrival at his seaside residence. His landlady and sexual partner is removing his coat.

 

the romance of desolation draws the broken to it

the romance of desolation draws the broken to it

So for those who are looking for the typical bio picture, you will not find it in Mr. Turner. Mike Leigh has given us much more than the running of the usual dramatic curve through the movie. He has given us a sense of the age with framed up scenes. Expect the unusual. The portrait of emotions, the sense of the man and the age is the subject but the technique is unexpected, like the depiction of a ship on the seas. It is all there but the viewer has to do some work.

How do you reform the mindscape?

Sloping

sunlight shoulder season

 

neurons are like pipes acting as conduits.

neurons are like pipes acting as conduits.

My discovery of books such as SWITCH and REWIRE always delights me. The experience reminds me of times when I have a sharp bit of tooth somewhere in my mouth and use a dentist’s mirror and a flashlight to see what is “going on”. Only it is my brain function, my mind set that I am trying to get an angle on and to cast a light on when I study books that explain the process of creating my mental landscape.

Something I read recently in the book Autobiography of a Yogi which I found in an on line bibliography of 12 spiritual books you should have read, really delivered a message.

The statement was that, essentially, our relationships with our bodies is a DNA type of Karma hangover from past lifetimes. So when we make a positive step forward, the good news is the change in habit behavior is inculcated into our very DNA which then carries on with us in the next lifetimes.

So the good news is, nothing learned and conquered is ever lost.

The bad news is we have strong habit memory from past lives as well as from this lifetime to address when we are ready to change into a more loving relationship with our own bodies and spirits. Lay onto that the belief that Buddhists and Taoists hold that family history also leaves a DNA karma habit on us in addition and it becomes clear why it can be such a struggle to shift.

 

 

photograph shows the possibilities of flow

photograph shows the possibilities of flow

No wonder when I simply decide I wish to move into a new territory of growth it takes such intention and will. I am trying to move out of what is to create what is more fully.

In REWIRE, Richard O’Connor made a statement which illuminated some dark mind cave space for me. He mentions countless studies where-by mindfulness practice can cause changes to the very structure of the brain. However, he states, mindfulness practice only allows us to see what thoughts we have and gives us the ability to not react to what is arising. The difficulty lies with the past experience informing the present dynamic. In order to think thoughts about being more powerful, creative, healthier, dynamic we need to build in those experiences. So for a while, we tread out onto thin ice and it feels risky.

For example, My mind will only allow me to think that I can pay down my debt slowly, with care and self sacrifice. My processes can take me out onto the new surface of knowing I can have my debt paid, my future secure and my financial struggle at an end. But at first it is thin ice because that “story” is not in my experience. I have not seen this in my parent’s lives, nor in mine.

O’Connor points to research that shows that it takes three months to rebuild, rewire the brain and it is through establishing new habits. The habits will have to be intentional, conscious efforts toward ease of selection. The steps are 1. Make a public commitment. 2. Recognize every step of your growth 3. When you slip get up and climb again.

All habits have a physical existence in the structure of the brain. O’Connor cheers the reader up by pointing to studies that show will power can increase will power. We become more proficient at heavy lifting.

 

2014-02-17 09.47.54

We are basically strangers to ourselves. We have a strong tendency to make unfamiliar things fit into our pre-programed assumptions about the world, or our stories. My reading leads me to believe these assumptive stories are laid down under the age of seven years of age. We are constantly dodging paradigms, narratives, scripts, schemata, mind sets and life traps.

Another statement that he made and I responded to strongly is how we need to learn the value of trying without succeeding. We can encourage growth by cheerleading our attempts at things that we know for sure will not work out at first, will be difficult, or stepping into the unknown.

We all know people who took that first step onto what looked like very thin, brittle ice and succeeded in walking out of a mediocre life. We all know people who changed their assumptions about what world they exist within.

For me, it is encouraging to see that mindscape can be redesigned. I am all for mindscape architecture which can be a build out from a risky, thin ice place on the path. Think of all those you know of from history, from people around you who have succeeded by failing. Building new conduits changes the brain which changes the thoughts which changes the results. Isn’t that wonderful to think about?