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January 23rd, 2009
04:49 PM ET

A second opinion

A Palestinian man Monday prays in the rubble of his home, destroyed during Israel's offensive in Gaza.

A Palestinian man Monday prays in the rubble of his home, destroyed during Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Morgan Meis
The Smart Set

Say what you like about Israelis, they know how to play the game. I'm speaking of the humanity game. It's a game with specific rules and expectations in Western civilization. Its centerpiece, the very core of the game, is self-reflection. Demonstrating your humanity (since the Enlightenment, at least, but the roots go back to the beginning) is less about doing and more about reflecting on what you've done. The basic formula is already there at the Delphic Oracle: Know thyself. The trick of it, the reason that the humanity game is hard to play, is that the quest for self-knowledge does not lead to clarity, but down ever deeper into the muck. Knowledge, in the Western tradition, is very much about its limits. Knowing ourselves is thus partly about knowing the infinity of an enigma.

Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir is a “know thyself” kind of movie. It is obsessed with memory, and memory is the thread around which a self is built. You can't know yourself without memory. The problem is that Folman doesn't remember. Crucially, he doesn't remember anything from his youthful days in the Israeli army when he was part of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. He decides that he needs to remember, and tracks down a number of his fellow soldiers in order to reconstruct that past. The story is told in animated form. It's a nice move. It creates a distance from the reality of lived experience. It is like drifting through someone else's dream.

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Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Global 360° • Hamas • Israel • Palestine
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. earle,florida

    My Opinion,from an impartial observer here in the states,that some times is very opinionated: the failings of man's primordial psyche has alot to do with his consciousness catching up to contemporary times;questioning the age old adage of natural selection,where only the strong survive,clustered in the omni-present hierarchy of our food chain;one life,three lives are any equivalent to thousands arbitrarily taken to satisfy ones right of fictitious moralities;where and how does perception have a say about that;spin,spin,the deceitful spin meisters spew their fallicies to incriminate the after-thought of equality,for what;sadly these closed-minds catch no fleeting moments of rationale,rather they get tangled-up in negligent selfishness;thus making what could be a divine intervention,dynamic in reverence,quite the contrary;hence-forth all remains stagnant until time's twisted dimensions excellerate the past once again;only fools would celebrate deaths descent for it's delusional ways,breeding contempt with the worlds eye's focused,meant for not;for the wisdom of the silent majority manifest the purist sense of redemption,not perception emanated by mankinds frailities incapable to rise above truths inevitable mortalities,... Thanks

    January 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Jenn/Monrovia, CA

    I applaud Morgan Meis for saying this, as I've thought it as well. We in the West are so quick to look as the Palestinians as terorists, or to place blame on Hamas, (who does carry part of the blame, don't get me wrong), without thinking of the human toll it is taking. It's upsetting to me that innocent lives are being taken here, and all anyone can say is "Well, Hamas shouldn't have started it."

    That logic didn't work with my parents when used to explain sibling scuffles. Why should it be used now as a serious defense of the mistreatment of an entire population of people?

    January 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm |