Sunday, March 24, 2024

Two Documentaries that delve into the meaning of existence

Entertainment for many is a time filler, if not all the time much of the time.  Leisure to me can also be a time of contemplation.  Picasso; once said "Art is the lie that shows us the truth" and I would like to think there is some truth to it.  For many of us it is the actual verifiable facts that are necessary to make a decision.

It is hard to pin down facts (life, infinity) in the two documentaries chosen for this post, but they bring issues that all humans have thought of during their lives.  "Infinity:  What on Earth Are We Thinking?" talks about the incomprehensible and how it can make one feel.  More to the point "End Game" makes us think about our own end and that of others dear to us.  

Neither of these documentaries resolves the issues, but both make us think.

 Our pre historic ancestors looked at the stars without the advantage of modern knowledge.  What must they have thought?   As very young children at first we also saw the stars and must have thought similar thoughts.  As we grew older we learned they were very far away.  Some of us learned more about the distance and it humbled us.  Others recognized it was too hard to understand and tried not to think about it.

In "Infinity:  What on Earth are we thinking?" many astro physicist and a few philosophers speculate with a variety of theories.  The basic argument is about  whether there was a beginning or not.  Going back to our childhood many of us thought there must have been something before the beginning.  The Big Bang theory is accepted by many, but even here they wondered what happened before.  

Another aspect broiught out was the opposite, outer space  is one thing, but infinity also goes to micro level.  We once thought that an atom was the smallest "thing", but we have since learned that there are netrons and protons and now we learn there are smaller parts.    At some stage our scientists will conclude that they have reached the smallest size, but they and we will wonder if there is something even smaller..  We realize we are really an incomprehensible collection of smaller parts. 

I watched this on a TVO program over three weeks and recorded it.  I don't know where it would be available, but there are similar films that might be available on streaming services or at your library.  This version was created by Christopher Robin Collins. 

In the "End Game" we are shown a few patients who know their end is near.  We see a variety of reactions including with loved ones.  I remember the first time I heard the term palliative care it was with regard to my mother.  She accepted her fate, but wanted to see relatives and friends and my father arranged as best he could.  I confess I was uncomfortable.  Once when alone with her she asked if I could give her some water.  I was so nervous I ended on spilling some on her.  She handled it calmly and we tried again, this time more successfully.  She had difficulty talking (she had emphysema) she told me "you did good."  Those were her last words to me except for a concern she had for a sibling.

A definition of palliative care was offered "to live as good as you can for as long as you can."  Death should be natural.  My thoughts on burial

One of the Doctors was B.J. Miller.  He had two artificial legs and was missing half of one arm.  He explained that that was due to a child hood accident which left him depressed at the time, but he came to accept himself as he was and moved on.  He felt palliative care suited him.

"End Game" is available on Netflix.  It was put together by the team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

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