TDB&TB Question #23 ~ Schnabel's Purpose

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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TDB&TB Question #23 ~ Schnabel's Purpose

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 27, 2008 7:47 am

From the Director’s Notes on the movie:

“An introspective look into life. A chance at consciousness. This is the story of all of us, who surely do face death and sickness. But if we look, we can find meaning and beauty here. I wanted this film to be a tool, like his book, a self-help device that can help you handle your own death. That’s what I was hoping for, that’s why I did it.”

Do you think Schnabel accomplish his purpose?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Unread postby suec » Tue May 27, 2008 4:51 pm

Yes in finding meaning and beauty because he portrays both of those. In being a self-help tool in handling my own death - no, in short. Or if so, only very indirectly. That is perhaps partly because I read the book first. But to be honest, well, I've had a little itsy bitsy taste of handling it already. Or more accurately, the possibility of it when I was diagnosed with a particular potentially fatal illness, which now appears to be behind me, thankfully. But the moment that Jean-Do describes in his book, of realisation, is something I can recognise and relate to. "In one flash I saw the frightening truth. It was as blinding as an atomic explosion and keener than a guillotine blade". That is pretty much how it was for me too. And one thought crossed my mind instantly at that time: better start living then. I think that pretty sums up what I take as a message from the book. Our lives are fragile, uncertain, whatever we may imagine. We are only a visit to the doctor away from the complacency we may feel in thinking it won't happen to me, or I'm too young for that to happen, or from not thinking about it at all. Right now, I'm not concerned about how I will handle my own death. When the time comes, it will handle me. One thing I learnt that time, from my visit to the doctor, and in the months that followed, was to try to handle life better, because it won't necessarily come and find you the way death does. And I learnt to try to keep an eye on those potential regrets, to keep the stack as small as possible, because you just never know... The book, and the film to be fair, have been reminders of that for me.
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Unread postby Anna » Tue May 27, 2008 5:27 pm

suec wrote:One thing I learnt that time, from my visit to the doctor, and in the months that followed, was to try to handle life better, because it won't necessarily come and find you the way death does.


:thumbsup: Well said!

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 27, 2008 6:48 pm

Agreed, Anna! :cool: Thanks for getting us started suec. This has been a tough question it seems. I do agree with the first part of his statement, that we can find "meaning and beauty" in Jean-Do's story in learning to appreciate what we have, our families and our memories. I'm not sure I learned as much about death as he might have wanted me to. I did learn about a brave man who made the most of what life he had left and I do appreciate what he did for us with his book. If that is the message, to make the most of what we have, then he did accomplish his goal.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Tue May 27, 2008 6:56 pm

suec wrote:Yes in finding meaning and beauty because he portrays both of those. In being a self-help tool in handling my own death - no, in short. Or if so, only very indirectly. That is perhaps partly because I read the book first. But to be honest, well, I've had a little itsy bitsy taste of handling it already. Or more accurately, the possibility of it when I was diagnosed with a particular potentially fatal illness, which now appears to be behind me, thankfully.

Well, I am really glad it's behind you, Suec. :-/

Neither the film nor the book helped me in dealing with death. The movie by itself did not help me with anything. However, the book enlightened me on the possibilities of such a life as Jean-Do's, allowing me to see that all is not lost if one has determination and the right attitude. I think Jean-Do's demonstration of the ability to use one's imagination was very helpful.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue May 27, 2008 8:06 pm

For me, right now, it has more to do with life than death. Jean-Do did so remarkably well at enriching his life under the most dire conditions that there's no excuse for me not to employ some of his tactics to enrich my daily life. He may have had far more exotic experiences to draw upon :-O , but everyone has something special...or can embellish!! ;-) And, it could be that when it comes to dying, I'll think of Jean-Do's attitude and be able to make it a more positive experience. I've had a serious illness, too, and found it surprisingly helpful to think of the stories of survivors, was very grateful to them for sharing their tears and toughness. :heart: So, personally, I'll have to let you know later (much later, I hope! :freaked:) if it helped in handling death...
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Unread postby Parlez » Tue May 27, 2008 10:01 pm

I agree with you Betty Sue! Far be it from me to gainsay Julian Schnabel :-O , but, for me, the story was more about living than about dying. And about the kinds of choices we make. I kept thinking throughout the movie how really amazing it was that Jean-Do continued to keep that one good eye open. He could just as easily have closed it and let everything pass him by; letting his imagination and reveries take center stage and forget about reality altogether. But he didn't. He stayed engaged in his life and the lives of those around, and in doing so he inspired, and was inspired by, Claude Mendibil, who, IMO, was the true creative force in this story.

And that thought leads me to another message to be taken from the film and the book: you never know where your help and comfort is going to come from. It's not necessarily those who are familiar to us who are ready to come to our aid; we should never discount the importance of strangers....our effect on them and their effect on us.

My spiritual path has very few rules, but one of them is that you're supposed to live until you die. It's the most important mandate that comes with being born. Once you're here, your responsibility and obligation is to stay alive (as in fully conscious, alert, aware) until you go...and not one minute before! Easier said than done! But Jean-Do's life - and his decision to keep that one eye open - is a wonderful example of what it means to stay alive until you die.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue May 27, 2008 10:21 pm

Maybe that's the message he meant...it ain't over 'til it's over. :eyebrow:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby nebraska » Wed May 28, 2008 6:56 am

I think the movie (and the book) certainly reminded me how fragile we all are physically, that any one of us is just a heartbeat away from being in a place like Jean-Do.....but as to death, I didn't really get that from the film. The movie wasn't about death, although it might be argued that being locked in was a form of death, sort of.......it certainly ended life as he knew it.

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Unread postby fansmom » Wed May 28, 2008 1:24 pm

If I remember correctly, Schnabel was working on TDBTB as his own father died. (Remember the special poignancy of the shaving scene?) His own state of mind may have colored his experience of the movie.

I'm in agreement with you all about the movie not being a self-help tool to deal with death. That's not what I got.

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Unread postby Anna » Wed May 28, 2008 1:53 pm

I've composed longer posts for this thread twice and them deleted them. Firstly because I don't want to leave too much personal information on The Net and secondly because I cannot for the life of me convey my views in this in a post. The subject-matter is far too personal for that. That is probably why the film did not help me with dealing with death or even life. I'd learned the lesson of live life much much earlier and the film is far too poetic to make me identify with its issues. I've yet to learn about a young person who could turn suffering and dying into something positive. Bauby had no other options to cling to life. It's admirable, the film is beautiful in its imagery but it didn't help me find meaning and beauty in sickness and death.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 28, 2008 2:06 pm

fansmom, below is what Schnabel said in an interview:

A few years ago my mother died when she was 89. And then my father. They were married for 60 years. My father, who had cancer since he was 83 and he was almost 92, had held it at bay because he was taking care of my mother. But now that she was gone…

[color=black]I lived in my studio where I paint. My father lived there too. It was Christmas time, I needed to take my children somewhere for their holydays holidays and I needed somebody to watch my father because he couldn't go with us. I called Darren McCormack
(The man who gave Schnabel The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to read). So he came to the house and he was in the room with my father. When the script arrived from Kathy Kennedy of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, my father was very scared of death and I thought if I could help him not to be scared... That's the only thing I failed him in. He was terrified because he'd never been sick in his life.


Anna, thank you for sharing your opinion. Your post is very well written!
:cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Wed May 28, 2008 2:18 pm

So do you think Julian read the book to his father, as a way to help him calm his fears? If so, I guess that failed, right? His father remained terrified. Hmmm... I'd like to know how his father's death ended up going. Never being sick is one thing; dying is another. I don't see how enjoying good health throughout a long life span would make a person terrified of death... :eyebrow:
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Unread postby Liz » Wed May 28, 2008 3:21 pm

I can see it, Parlez. I think if life has been too good to you, you take if for granted. Then when death finally comes, it is more of a shock. I think it is harder to leave a life of good health and happiness than to leave a life of hardship and sickness. The odd thing about what Schnabel said, though, was that his dad was sick--he had cancer for almost 10 years. But maybe that is why he was so afraid of death--because he had escaped it for 10 years, and thus felt invincible.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Unread postby Parlez » Wed May 28, 2008 6:32 pm

Liz wrote:I can see it, Parlez. I think if life has been too good to you, you take if for granted. Then when death finally comes, it is more of a shock. I think it is harder to leave a life of good health and happiness than to leave a life of hardship and sickness. The odd thing about what Schnabel said, though, was that his dad was sick--he had cancer for almost 10 years. But maybe that is why he was so afraid of death--because he had escaped it for 10 years, and thus felt invincible.

Good points, Liz....very interesting. I would think that a person who had enjoyed good health and a long life would assume death would come as easily as life had come. But I wonder how much of Mr. Schnabel's terror came from tending to his wife and watching her slow, probably painful, departure...? Knowing he also had cancer might have led him to conclude he'd end up going the same way. The picture Julian paints shows his father as a devoted caregiver for his Mom...when that role ended, maybe his own mortality took center stage and overwhelmed him. Plus, I wonder if maybe he wasn't so much fearful about dying as he was frightened by the idea of needing to be similarly taken care of...?
Hmmmm.... :perplexed:
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