Greetings, I hope you Valentine’s Day was wonderful, whether or not you celebrate it. My day didn’t suck and I watched Her for the first time.
Her was released in December 2013, and it is about a sensitive, one-year separated man, Theodore, who falls in love with his operating system named Samantha. His operating system is an artificial intelligence, voiced by Scarlett Johanssen, and she is engrossing, humorous, sexy, heartfelt, and inquisitive. She starts off shy and she evolves into this effervescent, ubiquitous presence. Joaquin Phoenix really carries this movie, you start forgetting that there are only two other characters in the movie besides him.
During one of the pillow talk moments between Samantha and Theodore, he says to her “Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.” As a self-proclaimed empath, that jarred and terrified me, straight to the bone. As I’ve grown older, I’ve experienced more things and I’ve learned how to modify my feelings because the novelty is gone. The thought that my feelings are finite and no longer new made me feel like a shell of who I thought I am.
The counter question that I wish I could ask Theodore; have you experienced everything possible in this world? Theodore was married and going through a separation, they never had children. Theodore never experienced nor felt the feeling of paternal love. Has Theodore gone skydiving before? If he hasn’t, he never experienced the feeling of knowing you are placing yourself in danger, laughing in the face of death, and the experience of free-falling/weightlessness.
Very much like the operating system Samantha, every single moment we have changes us in Lilliputian ways. It is unfair to ourselves and the human experience to classify our moments as “the same but less” when we are not the same, but less. We are the summation of our breaths, the shared memories, kisses, fights, touches, camaraderie, hopes, fears of our counterparts. And we must ask ourselves, do we take risks? How do we know we have experienced every feeling our bodies can hold if we still have so much more life to live.
I have over six tattoos, but my favorite one is “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe”, a line from the poem the “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Elliott. The poem is about a man who is timid, afraid, and going through life with perfunctory motions. He questions his trajectory, his relationships with a melancholy self-awareness that he isn’t living life to his full potential. The protagonist asks this question “Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions that a minute will reverse.” He waxes poetically about how he could be Hamlet, makes an allusion to the Odyssey, referencing individuals who chose to be heroes. In the end he decides that he’s better off being a background character, a supporting actor.
Her reminded me of my tattoo and why I take so many emotional risks, because there is so much to gain and I want to be the hero of my own life.