The future is dumb

Professor Satoshi Kanazawa is on the news again, with a study showing that intelligent women tend to have less children. And the reason, according to him, is that they decide it is not worth the time and effort. So, according to the professor at the London School of Economics, “intelligent people are the ultimate losers”, for they are losing in the game of the perpetuation of the species. In other words, dumber people tend to have more kids, so the future is theirs. If anyone has seen the beginning of the film “Idiocracy“, this is the process that Mr. Kanazawa is describing. (Don’t bother watching the rest of the movie, it’s not worth it. But those first two minutes are pretty good.)

Mr. Kanazawa has confirmed an interview with us for our documentary “Crush” to talk about love from the point of view of evolutionary psychology, given that we can get to London at some point, or fly him to L.A. if we ever get money for that. Please support our movie by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign, or donating through PayPal.

If you want kids, marry a dumb blonde?

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Philosophy and love

Someone sent me a link for a book about “great philosophers who failed at love“. I’m not sure what to make of it.

It is true that many philosophers, despite their great intelligence, had a complicated love life, to say the least. Nietzsche never married. Schopenhauer’s most faithful companion was a poodle, or rather a series of poodles. Rousseau abandoned wife and kids. Etc, etc.

But so what? That does not necessarily mean that they did not understand love more than any of us. I am sure that they did — but only in theory. In practice, even for them, love was complicated.

Or maybe they were just not that handsome or attractive. After all, it is true that women tend to like more the sportive, outgoing guys than the nerdy introvert philosopher types. Maybe if they used their time to practice some sport, as in the video below, they would have better luck.

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Crush #17

I was in High School. I was in love with her, but I never told her. We were not even friends, just classmates, we talked only every now and then. Sometimes she didn’t even say hello. That day, I saw her walking alone to the bus stop. I said hi. I decided that I wanted to talk to her, but I didn’t know how to do that. And just when I wanted to say something less stupid than just hi, then it started to rain. Very hard. We ran together to the bus stop, getting drenched. She was laughing all the time. We finally got to the bus stop. Her clothes and her hair were all wet, she looked more beautiful than ever. She said to me, that was amazing, wasn’t it. I will never forget that smile. I wanted to say something else, but then her bus came. It was a different bus than mine. She left. The next day, she was back to her normal self, not even saying hello. I prayed for another rain, but it never came. It was just sunny days from then on.

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Making a documentary

Making a documentary is hard. There is so much work involved. So many things that can go wrong. And all the time you think, is this really worth it? What is really what I want to say?

I directed a few animation and fiction films. But working from a script is easier. It also involves a lot of work, of course, and there are always things that can go wrong, but is not as unpredictable as life. And to make a documentary is to try to capture life.

It is even more complicated when the theme we want to talk about is complex in itself. I want to make a documentary about love, about the feeling of love, about the origins of the feeling of love. Isn’t it such a vast theme? Is it  really possible to do a film about it?

I don’t really know, but, at least in my case, if I make a documentary it is because I want to find answers, to learn things that I don’t know. And I suppose that is the main reason why I want to make this movie. To try to understand why people feel the way they feel, or to understand my own feelings. Isn’t this enough reason to make a film? Is it?

 

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The girl and the diving horses

I found out today about the diving horses.

Apparently, this was a popular spectacle in Atlantic City from the 1905 to 1978. Then last year someone tried to organize the stunt again, but was blocked by animal rights activists.

It is interesting how what is considered moral or immoral behaviour can sometimes change from one age to the other. Today, for example, we talk much about animal rights. But this was not very much taken into account in earlier times (and it still is not in many parts of the world, such as China). Since I am a lover of animals, I take it as a form of progress, but, as in all things human, there is no guarantee whatsoever that such tendencies will last.

In fact, today the welfare of animals seems to be more taken into account than that of humans. That is certainly the case for certain activists that are not afraid to hurt humans in order to free animals from labs that experiment on them.

In the case of the diving horses, apparently no activist was worried about the risks incurred by the riders in the activity, which seem to have been considerable higher than for the animals. By the way, the riders were all women, so the spectacle would probably also be considered sexist today: “All the girl has to do is look pretty and not fear height or water. . .  The horse knows what to do. He’ll take care of you,” said one of them, Lorena Carver, who by the way according to the same source “averaged one broken bone per year.”

Sonora Carver, her sister, became blind after an unlucky fall dislocated her retinas. Still, she continued jumping for another eleven years. She loved it: “It was a wild, almost primitive feel, that only comes with complete freedom of contact with the earth.” Or the water.

According to another performer, Annette French, the horses loved doing it too: “The S.P.C.A. was always snooping around, trying to find if we were doing anything that was cruel to animals. They never found anything because those horses lived the life of Riley. In all the years of the act, there was never a horse that was injured.”

Those were different times, indeed. Still, it is probably a good idea that the show is no longer performed.

 

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“It doesn’t make sense, it’s just love” (A sad story)

“It doesn’t make sense, it’s just love.”

That’s what Atsuko told me in a cold December afternoon in Los Angeles, a little over a year ago. Atsuko (not her real name) was my Japanese neighbour and we had gone to watch a movie at a Japanese Film Festival that was taking place those days. The film we had just watched was a silly romantic comedy, not particularly memorable, in fact, not memorable at all. But it is always nice to talk about a movie after one watches it, and so we were discussing the motivations of the characters, and then she said that sentence, in a very low voice, almost as if talking to herself.

I remember that her comment struck me because of its dismissive nature. See, most of us tend to talk about Love as if it was the greatest thing on Earth, the most important or profound sensation that one can ever feel. Sometimes we even capitalize it: Love, not just love. But, for Atsuko, it was just love. A strange feeling that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, something that came and went away, like a fever.

Less than a year later, she was dead. And that didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, either.

Now, the strange thing is that I think that Atsuko was once in love with me. Well, maybe not really in love-love, certainly not in Love, but she seemed to have some kind of interest, although I could be mistaken because Japanese people are a mystery to me. In any case, at the time I was in another relationship, and nothing really happened between us. We watched a couple of films together and talked about the weather when we met in the corridors of the apartment building, and that was about it.

How old was Atsuko? I am not sure. I said that Japanese people are a mystery to me, and that includes their age: it is not always easy to guess it. But she was probably between 35 and 40 years old. She worked as an accountant. She had been living in Los Angeles for 15 or 20 years. She was not married but maybe she had been in the past, but then again, maybe not. She had no kids. She did not have a good relationship with her family back in Japan. That was all I knew.

A few months after that day of the film, she moved away. She had just put down the initial payment for a little house because she wanted a little garden for her dog, an old cocker spaniel that was almost eighteen years old. His name was Guts. She moved away and I didn’t hear anything from her for a few months. Then one day she called me, very distressed.

She said that she was unhappy with the new house and that she was feeling very lonely. She didn’t like her new neighbours, she was living in a bad Mexican neighbourhood of Los Angeles and nobody spoke English, she had spent a lot of money in the house, her dog was sick. She wanted to move back to her old apartment, but what would she do with the house? I tried to console her the best I could and I promised to visit her. But I never did.

Last I heard from her was by e-mail, still a few months later. She had gone back to Japan and she was with her family there. She seemed to be feeling better, or at least that was my impression. Guts, she said, had died.

And then, still a few months later, in the December a year after our movie, a Japanese friend of hers contacted me through Facebook. She told me that Atsuko had died.

At first I thought it was a joke or a misunderstanding: her English wasn’t all that clear. But there are not many ways of mistaking the word “death”. The friend didn’t get into details, she just told me that Atsuko had been ill and that she had died on the 25th of December.

I felt bad then for not having been a better person with her. I thought: I could have visited her in her new house, as I had promised. I could have talked more to her on the phone and be a better friend. I could have gone to watch other Japanese movies with her. But then it was too late.

Love, she had said, makes no sense. But I think that she loved Guts more than anything, and I think that the reason why she died was that she could not go on living after his death. It was a different kind of love, of course, but it was love. Maybe even Love.

And now it’s cold again, and I am not even living in Los Angeles anymore, and I never talk to my new neighbours, and the world seems a strange place full of wind and fury, and I think back to that day, to her words, to her life, at least the little I knew of it. And I remember that she was happy that day. That her words were not spoken with cynicism or anger, but merely resignation, or not even that, maybe even a glad acceptance. It was just her way of explaining that it is not up to us to understand the mysteries of life or love or our feelings, we just have to live. And while many times we will not understand why things happen the way they happen, why we fall in or out of love, deep down we know that there is no need to understand any of that, that maybe there is not even a way to understand it, but that that is not necessarily bad.

It doesn’t make sense, it’s just life.

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