Filmmaker Michel Gondry & Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, creates a candid conversation w/ the esteemed Noam Chomsky to pull apart the gears & screws of reality.

Written by: Keagen Fritz- July12th , 2020 11:31 am pst

Official IFC Films Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? artwork

Philosophy battles the stigma of being considered a relic. Something only for our ancestors to concern themselves with, but not us. For we have advanced technology and social development, right? More than likely, you’ve turned on a television, went on twitter, or possibly just looked out your window to confirm that we may not be as advanced as we often like to believe. The days of Plato may be behind us, but the days of philosophical reflection in pursuit of mass change remain as vital as ever. 

Still – Philosophy hasn’t gone anywhere

Filmmaker Michel Gondry sits down with esteemed philosopher, linguist, and activist Noam Chomsky in an effort to provoke questions about the world around us in the candid conversation turned movie; Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?  Widely considered one of the best intellects of our time, Chomsky picks up were great philosophers like Descartes, Berkeley, and Hume left off. Working from a metaphysical toolbox, he pulls apart the gears and screws of reality in order to investigate just how subjective our experience of life really is.

Still –  Gears and screws of reality

The film itself is wonderous visual candy overflowing with vivid colors and abstract animation to bring the equally abstract conversation to life, which Gondry animated himself. Gondry treats Chomsky with genuine admiration, to which Chomsky returns unwavering respect, creating an air of early life innocence and awe as the two pick apart reality.

Still – Ask a question

They discuss how we orient ourselves within the world and what that means for how we define said world. Chomsky puts forth that we have a way in which we comprehend reality that is determined by internal systems – A “cognitive endowment.” So, we can only understand the world according to our individual system, and in turn, we are limited by ourselves in our understanding of the world. This is a limiter that can not be removed as, without it, we would have no connection to reality. Our perspective is both our vessel and our lens. Chomsky points out that this is the same conclusion Hume and Newton made and furthers the claim by saying a significant part of how we identify anything in the world is the mental conceptions we impose on our sensory stimuli to create our interpretation. However, most do not take their subjective cognitive endowment into full consideration when interacting with their world. 

Still – individual endowment

Chomsky points to this fundamental flaw in the human mind that still runs rampant in both philosophy and psychology. The notion that meaning bearing terms like tree, person, or really anything we create through language, has any tactile connection to the physical realm. The relationship we see between the word “tree” and what we encounter in nature is an illusionary one. From here, you may fear the only logical destination is an abyss of uncertainty, but the truth can be far more optimistic. If you accept that even the most basic of human assumptions can be false with no backing, then you should feel empowered by the opportunity to dismantle said assumptions in exchange for a better alternative.

Still – Create the change you seek

This is one of the film’s most prominent goals: to spark the realization that you must be comfortable challenging everything to have a chance at changing anything. Whether it be the seemingly sound progress made in the Enlightenment, structures put in place by a ruling power, or even your process of reasoning– It is all open for question. Chomsky’s views on education affirm this as well. He remarks that teaching shouldn’t be like pouring water into a glass, but rather laying out a stream for which the student interacts within their own way, and maybe they find out the stream is in the wrong place entirely.

Still – Learn how you feel is best

This shouldn’t be a controversial proposition, as modern science owes its existence to this style of thinking. Nevertheless, Chomsky’s critics deem this mentality anarchistic. However, having the courage to ask why shouldn’t be viewed as anarchy. It’s just seeking to be puzzled by the obvious in efforts to see the path of real understanding and peace. 

Still – Be one with the universe

So take a seat, open your mind, and enjoy the delightful ride. This is a must-watch for anyone wondering if there’s more to this realm than meets the eye, as it’s a rare chance at exploring some of Chompsky’s most universal ideas that speak to the fabric of reality. You’ll walk away feeling that the seams of your world have been tugged on and pulled loose. What you do with that feeling is up to you. Will you reflect on your surroundings and take notice of the changes you’d like to make? Will you dismiss fraudulent authorities and abandon broken systems? Will you do things your way and no one else’s? I certainly hope so.

Still – Take a seat

You can rent Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? on Amazon Prime and iTunes.    

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About The Author:

Keagen Fritz is a screenwriting and production major at California State University Fullerton with growing industry experience looking to make a living off the written word.  He currently writes for AfterBuzz TV and has his own series “The Universal Truth” where he dives into art to pull out messages that could relate to anyone.    

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