Transcendental reality

A chain of thought started from the film “BUG” (2007) directed by William Friedkin. I just picked up the DVD at video rental shop by chance, feeling like watching some really scary horror film.

It wasn’t a horror film, but was thought-provoking in a serious, depressing way.

Here’s the trailer to get you started if you haven’t watched it already.

When I watched it to the end, I was in mild excitement. I’d always thought of writing a screenply myself, and the theme would be a parasite or virus infectious through cognition, and developing into a global epidemic… In this film, the “bug” is imaginary, but the mad man provokes in his companion a reaction to it. When someone is firmly convinced of the truth of something, he assumes a power to diffuse it – a belief in the guise of truth. In the film, there is only one mad man. People other than his companion see the situation from outside, which would be translated as “objectively” if we all knew who was the mad.

Imagine, though, there are mad men and women surrounding you, and tell you what you see and feel is not there. If you insist that you see it, they will annouce you are mad… until, that is, there appear more people and denounce the claimed truth. Are we sure that we are not parading in the mad-men party?

The finale of the film was a blasting suicide. Here’s another thought. Who was the happy man among the characters? The ex-con, ex-boyfriend of the woman who died with the mad man in the blast? Her friend who tried to remove her from the deranged psycho? The psychiatrist who came in to bring the mad man back to the institution and got stabbed to death before the blast? Or the mad man himself who had the complete world of the biggest conspiracy in his head and lived it through? Maybe it was the woman who found in him a touch of companionship which she felt totally comfortable and which she couldn’t have in the world out there, where she only had the quasi comfort from drinks and drugs.

To pose another question, who was selfish and who wasn’t? As the film begins, you are gradually introduced to characters, and understand their relationships in the ways their appearances are depicted. Friends, spouces (of a broken marriage), companions, a doctor and his patient, rivals… also, a mother with her lost child. Strong ties and precarious bonds, social obligations and moral obligations. Death severs the ties. People suffer the loss. Choosing to die seems selfish, but so do imposing one’s values on others and determining who is mad.

What happens in the end? What will happen to the friend of the woman, or her ex-husband? What would you do if you were in their shoes? Memories may survive but life goes on. I would carry on living as before. Well, you don’t see in the film what happens after the event. But what if it wasn’t a fictitious event happening in a film but a real event taking place somewhere in Saitama, and you are part of the reality? Just food for thought.


About Dr Kats

a working sociologist/linguist/translator based in Kobe, Japan
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