14 December 2009

Precious - The Response

This is what I wrote on my Blackberry, in the parking lot, after seeing the movie, "Precious," with the PAALA Bookclub, on Saturday, November 28, 2009, around 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Note: This is stream-of-consciousness writing.

Cinematically creative
Excellently acted
Provocatively silencing

It's all about love, even when it hurts, when it is shameful, is uncomfortable, embarrassing.

Is this street lit? What makes it so?

How is this fiction? How is this non-fiction?

After the film was over, I said to the group, "We can do this one of 2 ways: we can either go in silence and talk about it tomorrow, or we can talk about it now." Everyone unanimously said, "Silence. See you tomorrow."

Choosing silence. Silence as a choice. As a means to process, to think, to feel. Silence as a gathering of thought, of emotion, of recollecting experience. Silence as a survival mechanism. Silence to save soul, and life. Silence to endure.

When we speak out, what are we simultaneously silencing? Anger. Bitterness. Injustice. Ignorance.

We speak to denounce silence. We become silent to recapture voice.
We breathe, we live. We live to breathe.

The street is a silent antagonist. It never speaks in language or in voice. It speaks as an expression of nature's cycles of seasons, coagulated thoughts, words, and deeds. It speaks through the gaps in silence - the exhale, the gasp before the breath - the street speaks. It demands response to the blood it sheds, as if a sacrificial altar upon which souls are summoned to purgatory. The street positions itself as a necessary rite of passage in order to reach that American dream (whatever that may be). The street is an unnatural hell where through elevation of the mind (education) emancipation is not only possible, but inevitable.

In this movie, the street is her passageway back and forth from hell to emancipation - from her mother's world to the outer world. How does Precious break free? What is she breaking free from? Her mother? Or the silences of an unspoken love that her mother owed her - as a mother? If so, what kind of mother will this make Precious? Who will be there to see her through? To usher her to the other side, beyond the streets? Will education be enough? I think this is a crucial question for this story: is education - enough?

I believe the movie is telling us that the streets will continue to work with Precious - the movie begins in the street and if you notice, it ends with Precious doing what? Walking - alone - with her two babies - down the street. She is not graduating from a program, she is not enrolling into college, she is not moving to live in a suburb with some well meaning people of a different hue, or attending a church service, or joining the military. At this juncture, she has only been emancipated from silence. Even though this is very necessary, and powerful, in order to move forward in life, the question still stands: What happens after Precious' emancipation? History tells us reconstruction. History tells us a renaissance. History tells us there is anger to contend with; injustice to confront. History tells us - the story is not over; there is still much work to be done.

I believe the movie is challenging US to ponder: what do WE see as the hope for Precious? Do we see the street as a passageway or as a testing ground for Precious? What does our vision for Precious' future say about who we are, who we decide to like, love, accept, SEE and HEAR? What does our vision say about what we accept from society? from ourselves? from our own voiced-ness? our own silences? Even though this story is err ... fiction, as in - not true, it is necessarily, quite real for us all.

Thank you for listening,

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