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crazy life

..: Life Out of Balance

Koyaanisqatsi is actually a movie from 1982 that is the ancestor to the movie Baraka that we watched in the Production Conference room a couple of months back, and impressed me in that it was the first movie that caused an honest spiritual reaction within me.

The title of the movie comes from the language of the Hopi, an ancient, reclusive, and dwindling American Indian society living in eastern New Mexico. Their language is linguistically unique and bizarre; therefore literal translations out of Hopi are nearly impossible. The best translation of "koyaanisqatsi" is "life out of balance", but other translations include "crazy life", "life in turmoil", "life disintegrating", and "a state of life that calls for another way of living".

Obviously, then, the movie is intended as a statement against modern life, and the movie consists largely of time-elapsed shots of natural settings, such as desert mesas, skies, rivers, and starscapes, interspersed with time-elapsed shots of city streets, train stations, malls, and machinery. This series of shots is set to a Philip Glass soundtrack -- which, by the way, was recently re-released with a very nice cover shot -- which itself culminates in a haunting set of chants of eerily familiar Hopi prophecy:

If we dig precious things from the land,
we will invite disaster.

Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs
spun back and forth in the sky.

A container of ashes might one day be thrown
from the sky, which could burn the land
and boil the oceans.

I am, then, a member of the movie's cult following, and reserve the use of the word for situations that I feel indicate a lack of perspective so overwhelming as to defy any attempts to accommodate them into one's daily life. Oddly, these situations are rarely guised as disasters or catastrophes, but rather small accommodations themselves which acquit individuals of their greater identity within and responsibility to life -- acquiescences that surrender a small portion of one's capacity for awe, wonder, or respect for the constructions and geometries which cannot be physically or intellectually apprehended.

-- Clinton
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