An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
A film by this title came out 7 or 8 years ago. I watched it in a small, independent movie theater in the West Village. I was excited about it because it was experimental. A film within a film. A man asks a woman out on a date, gets stood up by her, makes a film about getting stood up by her, and then shows it to her. We watch them watch it. The whole thing is a meditation on romantic feeling. It is not a meditation on love. It’s a hybrid of fiction and documentary, naturalism and fantasy. What we see is a main character whose romantic feeling is fueled by his imagination of himself and her and them. It’s not an exploration of his mind and soul in response to how they actually relate to one another. In fact, her dissatisfaction with the film is that it’s not really concerned about who she is at all. It conveys a certain level of self-analysis and consciousness, but not the kind that’s interested in seeing beyond its own projection and infatuation. It doesn’t realize that there is an entire world (her world) of consciousness that has yet to be taken seriously.
There cannot be consciousness and oversimplification at the same time. Consciousness is about clarity and insight. It precedes any struggle for self-awareness and liberation. Oversimplification may be romantic, but, by definition, it’s always a lie. It says that revolution is a one-time event when the success of any revolution requires iteration. Meaning that transformative principles must be applied repeatedly. Meaning that there is no such thing as a quick fix. Meaning that those of us who want to see a different self and world have to have a little steel in our spines, a little ice in our veins. No smoothing things over with soothing language or token(ism)s of appreciation. No compromises that are really surrender. No being bought. When members of the elite prop themselves up as unifiers, offering common-sense platitudes about how “we all want the same things,” it is an oversimplification. Because we do not all want the same things. Some of us want collective care and healing while others of us want herd immunity by genocide. This year has taught us that many people worship feeling over love. Projection and fantasy over consciousness. The oversimplification is not harmless. It’s confusing. It’s misleading. It devolves us into spoiled and impatient children. It encourages us to reason with and give in to the despicable. And the beauty we long for recedes further and further from view.