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Rend/Render I

TIFF Notes Summary Part I

The films and media I suggested during TIFF22 present elements which piece together to describe a conceptual through line. They’re not tidy or concise. Relying on the audience’s foreknowledge of context is a habit difficult to break. As an expression of core ideas, the posts are not particularly well composed. Nevertheless, I put together the series for a reason.

Eleven posts. It’s not as organized a work as I typically expect from myself, but that’s as may be, seeing much of what I’ve posted is written in haste. The limitations I face are not mysterious. Homelessness takes from a person everything they have, just to survive. It needs a reserve of dignity and self-belief to struggle on, often grappling with no less a beast than annihilation. The easiest thing a homeless person can do is lean into oblivion.

Homelessness has a profound effect on a life. Arising as if from nowhere, questions of mental well being, physical and emotional health fly, jittering, across consciousness. Desperate poverty subsumes time and opportunity, crushing everything before it without mercy. Potential is subverted. Circumstance, lack, and absence direct events in an unnatural inversion of human living, a scouring of the spirit, irrepressible and overwhelming.

Aphorisms reassure us life is a journey towards wonder and beauty. We are implored to weather the difficulties and take heart when in our darkest moments. Homelessness is, eventually, a destination. Ruled by the whims of others, life as a homeless person settles into patterns of disconnection. Perception narrows. Dreams atrophy. Goals focus on survival. Potential dries up. An ongoing trauma unfolds. Life in a shadow-world of time without meaning or a future is a deadly struggle in overcoming apathy. In every moment, the factors we live under choose the frame and set the lighting.

Deep in the wilderness of homelessness, perspective and self-awareness come alive. A new reality, cold and vast makes way as uncertainty, fear, and grief set in. Fierce and intimate adversaries, the fight itself is an achievement. Fail to resist, sink momentarily into acquiescence, and you face final defeat. That way lies only emptiness, and an inevitable, grinding, death of the self.

Persevering in this wilderness is a challenge that strips away everything a person needs to get safely home. Life and human society are what make the world, but power and agency are what make life happen, and make it meaningful.

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