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Thursday, May 19, 2016

O Captain, My Captain

I was in a discussion today, and somebody basically made a meme--and it was for humor's sake--of that moment from Dead Poets' Society, after the boys stand on the desk and begin to recite the famous poem. Keating looks, and pauses, before saying, "thank you, boys," and departing. Anyway, it got everyone sort of wistful for Robin Williams, even though its usage had nothing whatsoever to do with him, or the film.

I realized that for me personally, he impacted me several times, and in several ways, and I had not acknowledged it or realized it until he died. Let's give ourselves a break on self-condemnation for so-called "celebrity worship," because for many of these people, to continue working and entertaining is their way of serving, and for us to continue watching is the way we thank them. No one plans on dying, for the most part, and we never think that perhaps the time to say thanks is growing short. That's how death is. Family, friends, neighbors, and these friends in art and artistry; in this respect, the outcome is the same.

I have a friend who walked out of the film, "What Dreams May Come." And from a Christian point of view, I understand that. It's not the most theologically precise movie you'll ever see. He's a little more logical and less sanguine than me, so fair enough. It nonetheless remains one of my favorite movies. There are moments where it rings so true emotionally and relationally actually, that I can't watch it. And overall, that's what Robin did: He left us with a series of moments that rang true from somewhere in our guts, so deep that "logic" seems like a vulgarity.

I probably won't watch "Good Will Hunting" ever again. And that is by no means a criticism. Art can get too real at times, and loving oneself means leaving whatever it is alone.

"Hook" is far and away my favorite Robin Williams film. If "generosity of spirit" fairly characterizes the man at all, that movie is a lasting monument to it. If I ever meet the great Spielberg, please keep me from slapping him. I read that he disavowed the film. I have no idea why. Then again, if you make great art, chances are it's bigger and greater than the hearts of those who make it.

There's an anniversary edition of the film, "The Princess Bride," deservedly regarded as a classic in its own right. As I am sure you know, Mandy Patinkin has a celebrated role in that film as "Inigo Montoya." In any case, you can see Mandy discussing his role, and what it means to him, and he just starts borderline weeping. As he tells you why, it becomes clear: I have been a part of something bigger and greater than my heart and my words can contain. People who want to do that, to experience it, and share it, those are my kind of people.

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