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The Master: At Least 2 Oscars

There is some human belief that the answer lies beyond. There are questions that cause such yearning. Questions at the root of it all :

– where are we going?
– how can we heal?
– what is our destiny?
– what am I here to do?
– can I live on?

For those troubled by such, there are gurus, those with access to the mystical territory we ordinaries cannot reach.

Many will say, well, those questions are not mine. Still I do have questions:
– Why do I continue to behave in ways I regret later?
– Why does impulse take me and how can I stop going where it pulls me?
– Can someone reach inside and change the wiring so that I enjoy better fortune?
– Can someone actually fix these issues?

The Master came for just those reasons – to answer the unanswerable.

As Lawrence Dodd, [thinly disguised L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology], Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes The Master entirely compelling and believable while human at the same time. And as his foil and fool, Freddie Quell, Jaoquin Phoenix is one of the most proximate scary personages the movies have fielded in some time.

What is fascinating watching this film are the mechanics of human belief. There is a readiness to bestow belief on he who has – or presumes to grasp – the royal jelly of mystical access. That urge comes from a deep place in the human soul – and when it finds its object, attaches with a fierceness that cannot easily be displaced. And they follow it up with devotion, unwavering support, time and money.

The object of their affection [is that the right word?] is propelled to a perfection that cannot be maintained by a human. So sometimes Hoffman snaps – and these moments of the cracked god-like facade are the realism of the piece. As are the intensity of the sessions of “processing”. There is enough “rightness” in what Dodd says to carry us along – despite ourselves.

What he actually gives his followers is attention. Divine unwavering attention, pure and focused. No wonder they attend so closely. That sort of laser like light is so rare in these fragmented times. People forget that it could be so.

But all this is also an affirmation of the collective unconscious. It’s like all these people were just waiting for someone like this – and as soon as he appears – they know exactly how to respond. They don’t have to be taught. And he seems to fill out the template perfectly without external guidance.

Carl Jung spoke first about this phenomenon – that there were templates of human behaviour floating about in the ether, just waiting to attach themselves to the appropriate object. We know how to do unthinking devotion and he knows how to do guru – all those behaviors seem natural, unforced and unschooled.

The current manifestation of this is CEO. If you become CEO, you are King or Queen. The acolytes hang on your every word. And they come bearing questions, to which it is natural to provide answers. Even if you have to make it up – and where do those answers come from? You exist in broadcast mode. You can do no wrong and we follow you unquestioningly. Until the spell is broken and you fall. And when you fall, there is a full tragic script/template that awaits you. We watch these acted out in the media and find great satisfaction watching the play.

These have an “always been here” feel to them. That’s because they have. I’m reading “Wolf Hall”. King Henry is just like that. The courtiers know just how to “advise” and where the line is that they must not cross at the risk of incurring royal fury.

See “The Master” if you possibly can. I don’t see how they can’t give Oscars to both Hoffman and Phoenix. It is rivetting and the lessons go beyond a night at the movies.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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