The motorcycle diaries


Just been to see The Motorcycle Diaries with Joshua and Richard. It’s a pretty thin film – beautiful scenery but a over simple linear narrative that repeats itself in cliches and heart-tweaking “moments”. It feels like a film from a much older age – where those simple virtues of camaraderie, generosity, idealism, political fire could exist without all the contemporary layers of irony, cynicism, mindful questioning. Which is of course the moment in history it sprang from: Ernesto Guevera’s political awakening. Before the Cold War, before the truths of Stalinism came to light, before Cuba became sclerotic.

But are those simple pure idealisms and virtues really naïve and oversimplistic like this film? Or are they still valid – yet our over-critical mediasphere has conveniently allowed us to brush them aside as foolish and childish distractions from the real business of making money and pleasing ourselves? Are we so mired in fatalistic “realism” that we ignore the simple fact that: helping other people is the royal route out of self-obsessed misery. It’s right and natural to support one another. The neo-liberal creed of greed is good is a recent fallacy that has simply be repeated so often (as Goebbels recognised) that it has become a truism. The fact is that it’s a lie: Greed gives us a headache, it makes us grasping, fearful we’re going to lose stuff and it breeds an atmosphere of ill-will and mutual suspicion.

I’m aware of this as I come to the end of a long period of work where I’ve been working in a team (which is good) but for a largely meaningless enterprise (which is questionable). Now the urge is to go and do stuff “that I want to do”, chase after sun, sand, sex and sangria. But as Sucitto says: we live in a membrane of self, banging our drum, blowing our trumpet and that’s SO BORING.

So when I was slouched in the cinema watching the adorable Gael Garcia Bernal as Ernesto helping lepers and giving his precious dollars to penniless migrant miners I didn’t feel unduely manipulated by the film – I remembered that doing something for other people is actually a real relief and I should be doing more of it. Life is messy and there are millions of people who are really in the shit on the planet. Cocooning in ever-refined searches for pleasure isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps a bit of aspiration wouldn’t go amiss…

1 Comment

  1. Phantom V

    September 13, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    Hello Alistair- just finished watching the MD this weekend. Felt similarly about the composition’s simplicity. Hadn’t thought much about the subject of social upheaval since reading Marx’s Communist Manifesto in University, what seems like several ions ago. Remember forcibly penetrating the book and resentful at having to read the material. Too young to understand the depth and breadth of the issue and the importance of standing up as a society, or as an individual to solicit change for the better.

    Now that several years have passed since I have graduated, several relationships later, several jobs later… much more life experience… not so much the movie, but the essence of it struck a new chord with me. I’m caught in a world where I am a part of the Corporate mechanism of the capitalistic pursuit of success… yet, internally I feel for those who through no fault of their own can not take part in that wealth- at any level.

    What to do… seeking guidance from old and new philosophers. Seeking the meaning behind it all. Left with the realization that I’m overcomplicating the issue. Industry, capital, unequal wealth and opportunity will exist, and unfairness. I guess, where we can all start is in our own awareness of our part in ensuring “we first do no harm”. Perhaps it starts with being kinder, gentler, more compassionate. Perhaps it continues with being ever more aware and even more appreciative.

    Rambling… and probably very incoherently…

    Anyway, Alistair… I read your blog when I can and your observations inspire me to find inspiration in my world too. Still trying to find my own meaning… Ironically, grew up Catholic and had a dream where Christ whispered to me the meaning of life. I remember being astounded and asking him “You mean, all this time, it was that simple” and he nodded. I repeated the Meaning over and over in my dream to have it surface when I awoke, only to be disappointed that it wouldn’t be that easy, and that I’d have to figure it out on my own… (a little asside)… found a different faith in later years, but the Meaning still eludes me.

    So, still searching, as we all are… and will continue to pop onto your site to continue to become inspired. I’m so glad there there are people like you out there- be well and happy!

    A Kindred Goddess Soul in Canada

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