Thursday, August 13, 2009

negation of the negation . . .

On a lesser scale than what Robert McKee had in mind when he borrowed the phrase "negation of the negation" to describe pushing a story past any point of predictable outcome in the midst of the highest possible conflict—in the photo above, Nature has found a way to negate the man-made confines of these metal walls that enclose a parking garage in Cambridge. The roots of this phrase go back to the Greek philosophers and have continued through the works of great thinkers. Engels said: "The law of the negation of the negation is a concrete form of the law of the unity of opposites, that is, the law of the struggle of opposites and the resolution of their contradiction." The film Pulp Fiction illustrates this concept when two warring characters— each on a mission to kill the other—are both captured by a third character who uses them in sadistic, life-threatening sexual games. One of the prisoners escapes, but returns to rescue his arch enemy. The two opposites have been bonded by their shared experience of being captured and tortured by the third character, bringing their conflict to an unexpected and satisfying resolution. That's enough philosophy for tonight, but I wouldn't have even thought about it if it weren't for taking a closer look at that garage wall as I ambled along toward the Kendall Theatre.

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