“On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film “‘Being There'”. (1)
This simple sentence is quite interesting. It includes a diversity of concepts; being, defeat, games, championships, races, awards, events, views, change, existence, technologies, and undefinable others on life. But there is one more fact which can provide an additional interesting detail on our new lives at light speed about this statement. It is how I reached the review of Roger Ebert.
I cannot claim that I am a successful member of the new global community, social media and vast communication channels. In fact, it is also difficult for me to talk about my fruitful social relations in real life. Unfortunately, I am not a person of practice. I walk much more in the areas of abstract thought and theory than simple but creative details, the meaning of life. I am afraid this vulnerability is also dominant in determining my personality in social media relations. I feel and I am afraid what I tell is generally found too theoretical. My friends reading my comments I write in social media should be too kind tolerating the complicated thoughts full of desperate seeks rising from an unbalanced mind. On the other hand, I believe it is not easy to find positive relations and values in the social platforms of Internet. The virtual words reflect all the problems of real worlds.
However, although I could not read all their contents regularly, I was able to conclude that some of the discussion groups I follow were good examples for regular, consistent and successful application of Internet and communication links. A discussion group about movies, “Film Explorer” (2) is one of them.
The group has a simple and brilliant introduction:
“You know. You watch a movie, think ‘Everybody must watch this’, and start talking to people about it with enthusiasm. This group was formed with this excitement. Not only the new movies, not only the films now showing. There are thousands of movies waiting to be discovered by oneself somewhere. Let’s go and start an exploration all together.”
I recently read an introduction made by one of the moderators, Oya Şirin, about George Roy Hill’s “The World According to Garp” (1982) from John Irving’s novel. I remembered “Being There” as one of the most interesting movies opening channels to understand our new world and our new lives, I made a comment, and then Oya Şirin said that I could write on that film since it had not been reviewed recently in the group.
So this is how I remembered and started searching “Being There” for writing a “short review of my own”. Our group does not like copied and pasted reviews. Personal views, words, points and comments are preferred and encouraged. But I wanted to have an idea on how the movie which had a significant effect on my visualisation of television impact was reviewed. So I found:
“On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film “‘Being There'”
I am not sure if an information could have been given so exactly if it were based on a daily life conversation, but I can now tell that Oya Şirin wrote about “The World According to Garp” on 19th February 2017, at 11:12 p.m. the introduction below:
“Good night dear ‘Film Explorer’ friends. Our film tonight is ‘The World According to Garp’. When I had watched years ago (although definition of years is relative in cinema language, was it 2003?) George Roy Hill’s this film, made in 1982 and based on a script written from John İrving’s novel, on CNBC-E channel; I was amazed with the performances of Robin Williams and Glenn Close, but then I had forgotten the film with a weird taste in my feelings. However, this couple and “The World According to Garp” were so special to be forgotten. With my thanks for dear Husamettin Tezyurek of our group members, who had led me to watch this movie again.”
“How is a baby born? What are its conditions? What are the objects required for the baby and its mother? The answers of our movie for all these questions we know are identified with an activist mission in a line of natural life evolution. With its universal focus on woman-man-child and family relations, the film shakes all the feelings like playing sword and shield game. Of course, this is what it made me feel. It can give different feelings to you. You can even find it absurd. In fact, it is an example of absurd cinema.”
My comment for this introduction on 20th February 2017, at 05:28 p.m. was:
“It looks like a very interesting movie. Was it shown in Turkey? I was not able to see a title in Turkish. I met some similar titles. Meanwhile, I remembered the film ‘Being There’ (Hal Ashby, 1979) I think it is a movie preserving its meaning.”
The conversation lead me writing a review including “Being There”:
20th February 2017, at 05:28 p.m.
Oya Şirin: It is quite stunning Mr. Arat. I also could not find the title in Turkish. Probably, it was not shown, I had watched on CNBC-E. After I watched it again, the film gained an entirely different place in my eyes. If you watch it, you can understand why ‘Garp’ was chosen more clearly. ‘Being there’ is one of the films I like the most, and shared in the group. It was almost one years before. If your impressions on the film are intense, you can consider sharing. I can add the link. It will be nice.”
21st February 2017, at 09:13 a.m.
Mehmet Arat: Thank you for your interest. I can’t promise about the time, but I would like to share. In fact, if I can find an opportunity and trace it, I want also to write on the first movie I watched, at a convenient time. I should also say that knowing that I can find good movies, qualified evaluations on ‘Film Explorer’ group makes me happy.”
21st February 2017, at 05:38 p.m.
Oya Şirin: Let we thank on behalf of our group. We will be waiting for your sharings and impressions.
So at a “convenient time”, I started writing an essay combining “Being There” with the “first movie I watched”. This is why and how I am here. Now I can write on the movies. Today is 18th March 2017, 08:29 a.m. and I know it has already taken too much time to come at this point. But “Starting is half of completing”, isn’t it?
Before entering the worlds of the two movies, I would like to mention some notes on our unique world; on literature, far and near lands, politics, economy, society, education, communication, training, chains, light, and on “binary light chain”.
Should we start all discussions thinking about our unique world? Is our world unique? Can we be sure if our planet is unique or not? When and how can be sure about that? When we find positive traces of a kind of life at any point during our existence? Or if we cannot succeed finding anything before human specy becomes extinct? Which one we really want?
Is literature the most detailed way of understanding and expressing life? Is the range from six word stories to thousands of pages novels are the best descriptiptions of what has been lived, what is being lived, and what will be lived in our universe?
Which word can describe a novel better? An adjective or a noun? Or a verb? Or is it the chosen adverb the most important one? Can we write a perfect and permanent essay on definitions, descriptions, details, simplifications, relations and types of words? Can we write everything on life and living? How can we do that? With words asking questions, or words giving answers? Are 5W1H questions the only starting point for understanding our lives, and the universe? 5W1H questions being 1-What, 2-Where, 3-Why, 4-When, 5-Who, and 1-How. Are they the keys to find the answers for all secret questions?
Do we need long novels or short ones in our new era of communication at light speed? Is CALS as “communication at light speed” the key of our new world? (3)
Should we concentrate on new definitions or applications of old and new concepts? Is the sum of shorts better than longs? Should novels be shorter? Should they be compact or compressed? Is “Compact Novel” identical to “Compressed Novel”?
Can a very short story trigger other stories living and moving in light beams of other minds? Can the “Fairy of Inspiration” of Selim lead to “Selim and Sima”? (4) “Memories Lost” to “Metileus and Merilia”? (5)
If we make the definition as “A compressed or compact novel is a collection of stories in puzzle form which creates the memory of a novel in reading minds”, which word will be more agreeable? Is “2000+X” a novel, or a linked sequences of written and unwritten stories and essays? (6)
Do influencers write, with their speeches, vivid and permanent stories on average people’s minds?
Dan P. McAdams comments on life stories of presidents:
“Like all of us, presidents create in their minds personal life stories—or what psychologists call narrative identities—to explain how they came to be who they are.”
“The rhetoric that Trump uses to characterize both his own life story and his attitudes toward America’s foes is certainly aggressive. And, as noted, his extroversion and narcissism suggest a willingness to take big risks—actions that history will remember.” (7)
Considering the stories written on average American’s mind, can we say that a leader should be a story-teller capable of writing compressed novels simultaneously on millions (considering globally maybe billions) of minds?
I believe never in the history of our blue planet, far and near lands had been so close to each other. Would it be possible to feel the stories of social lives so vividly in other parts of the world without our instant communication and control system at light speed? Would it be possible to create “The Story of a Far Near Land”, place it between the magics of light and electricity, and wait hopelessly there will at least be someone who will notice, see, understand and feel that there is life in the form of thoughts somewhere in a mind?
Can “sequence of stories” create a view of life and history on another part of the world? Is it possible to look at: Two thousand years with an unknown, at type-writers and secretaries, relations and dreams, at a square bounding lives of young people coming from the east and the west, at a symphony of loneliness with unwritten personal histories intersecting during eight decades of a republic; with words only? Can words form permanent images on life and history in other minds?
In the new world of global communication and transfer, no one and no country can be completely free and independent.
How can we start telling “The Story of a Far Near Land”? Should we first find and tell a story of the last two thousand years? Should we try to read the stories left on the keys of a “Typewriter”? Should we peep what four young people are doing in their small “Square”? Should we try to hear the silent music from a “Symphony of Loneliness” representing billions of other stories? Should we try to remember and understand what has been lived and what has being lived in the country we live, in neighbour lands, in other parts of the world? (8)
Should we deal with numbers like 7,358,664,203? Or must we always put the names of lives we care at the center of the universe? Should we remember or forget protests held at parks? Do Zuccoti, Tahrir, Hyde and Taksim parks have common features as a reflection of one “global virtual square”? Which one determines what countries will live, elections or the communication and movement of masses? How does change start?
Should we live in politics and think politically? Is it the only way of understanding the reasons behind the insane behaviours of governments?
I am not a politician, sociolog or economist. I am just an ordinary person trying to understand the world. But I want to share my observations since I was quite irritated with what I have seen during the Taksim Gezi Parkı festival which eventually evolved to “Duran Adam” (Standing Man) individual reactions.
My first impression is that both expression methods have been added to the social and cultural heritage of the world already as a specific way of reaction to policies ignoring the rights of individuals. People gather and express themselves in a live communication platform with the sounds of music and colors of life at parks, to protest and stop what should not be made according to them.
Secondly, the response of authorities against peaceful demonstrations is the determinative factor. As they respond harder, keeping the balance of diverseness becomes more and more difficult. Waves of hatred and polarisation of societies arise. Visions of future become darker. When the behaviour against the individual is harsh, the society is silent. Local and international levels of pressure applied on individuals and the relations between oppressive governments had changed much in recent decades. Occurances and reflections of the events are entirely different in the world of Internet and communication. The location, importance and effect potential of the individual must be redefined in multi-nation, multi-culture, multi-religion, multi-purpose and complex relations based on self-interest.
The new world has new concepts effective in local and global economy, society, education, communication, training, and education policies. The most important feature of the new era can be the light chains, replacing the steel chains.
Light chains represent thoughts, steel chains represent actions. Connection and control with light chains are easier. Creating and maintaining actual chains are harder and more expensive.
Actual chains are bonds. Light chains can be the main frame for a global network of freedom.
Is it possible to define and implement a new concept of “Education and Communication System Principles”?
“Freedom Buses” * travelling and taking knowledge from the centers to peripheries as mobile education units can be a starting point for new projects. A social integration and application project for promoting philosophy, knowledge, and relation concepts can be considered. A “Voluntary Quality and Financial Assessment Council” auditing non-government organisations. Creating principles, helping their implementations, auditing application results for the “Education and Communication System”.
People working for “Education and Communication System” can be connected with binary light chains to access eachother, actively communicate and update the data they create. Each person transmits an information piece from one source above to two sources below. Gathers feedback from two sources below to give one source above. All data is collected, issued, and updated at the top level. Upper and lower levels do not define a hierarchy. They are just communication links and directions.
An independent chain can be maintained for each considerable activity. A top level chain can link different activities for accession and management. All can be spread sheets at different sizes, creating a basis for recording, updating, and communicating data and links. “Binary Light Chains, BLC” can be the standard of “Communication at Light Speed, CALS”.
This can also be a new version of an old story, “Origin of Tale” of Vasıf Ongoren, one of the pioneers of writers and directors of Turkish theater. (9) In his book, a child tells the tales. The first condition is the requirement of ten children for starting. To start the next part of the tale, each child listening to the tale is requested to go and tell the tale to another group of ten children. Binary light chains are simpler. Each chain need a link with one upper, two lower chains. Upper and lower levels are not hierarchical. Up defines the direction where the data will be collected and kept. The chains can travel freely. Any time, any two chains can replace eachother voluntarily.
My friend Yasemin Pforr started a very good project for using new means of our era to provide books and training materials for children. “Each child a seed”. (10) I wonder if she can organize her supporters as a “Binary Light Chain” to access more supporters, help more children, manage and share bigger data of success.
When and where will we be living in a world that “Being There” is only a story of the past?
In his review in 1980, Roger Ebert describes “Being There” as a movie “lifted intact from a Jerzy Kosinski novel”, he says and asks:
“The Sellers character knows almost nothing about real life, but he has watched countless hours of television and he can be pleasant, smile, shake hands and comport himself; he learned from watching all those guests on talk shows.”
“What is ‘Being There’ about? I’ve read reviews calling it an indictment of television. But that doesn’t fit; Sellers wasn’t warped by television, he was retarded to begin with, and has TV to thank for what abilities he has to move in society. Is it an indictment of society, for being so dumb as to accept the Sellers character as a great philosophical sage? Maybe, but that’s not so fascinating either. I’m not really inclined to plumb this movie for its message, although I’m sure that’ll be a favorite audience sport. I just admire it for having the guts to take this totally weird conceit and push it to its ultimate comic conclusion.” (11)
In his review in 1997, Roger Ebert comments on artificial intelligence:
“On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film ‘Being There’. The chess champion said there was something about the computer he did not understand, and it frightened him. There were moments when the computer seemed to be . . . thinking. Of course, chess is not a game of thought but of mathematical strategy; Deep Blue has demonstrated it is possible to be very good at it without possessing consciousness.”
“The classic test of Artificial Intelligence has been: Can a computer be programmed to conduct a conversation that seems human to another human? ‘Being There’ is a film about a man whose mind works like a rudimentary A.I. program.”
He talks about the incredible character created on Peter Sellers from Jerzy Kosinski’s novel:
“Chance is played by Peter Sellers, an actor who once told me he had ‘absolutely no personality at all. I am a chameleon. When I am not playing a role, I am nobody.’ Of course, he thought himself ideal for this role, which comes from a novel by Jerzy Kosinski. Sellers plays Chance as a man at peace with himself. When the old man dies, the household is broken up and Chance is evicted, there is a famous scene where he is confronted by possible muggers, and simply points a channel changer at them, and clicks. He is surprised when they do not go away.”
He asks a critical question:
“Is it possible that we are all just clever versions of Chance the gardener? That we are trained from an early age to respond automatically to given words and concepts? That we never really think out much of anything for ourselves, but are content to repeat what works for others in the same situation?”
He repeats “the last words in the movie” as “Life is a state of mind” and comments:
“So no computer will ever be alive. But to the degree that we are limited by our programming, neither will we. The question is not whether a computer will ever think like a human, but whether we choose to free ourselves from thinking like computers.”
The summary of the story does not tell much about the depths of “Being There” (12):
“A simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of an old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. After a run in with a limousine, he ends up a guest of a woman (Eve) and her husband Ben, an influential but sickly businessman. Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben, and an unlikely political insider.”
The quotes, however, give some hints:
“Ron Steigler: Mr. Gardner, uh, my editors and I have been wondering if you would consider writing a book for us, something about your um, political philosophy, what do you say?
Chance the Gardener: I can’t write.
Ron Steigler: Heh, heh, of course not, who can nowadays? Listen, I have trouble writing a postcard to my children. Look uhh, we can give you a six figure advance, I’ll provide you with the very best ghost-writer, proof-readers…
Chance the Gardener: I can’t read.
Ron Steigler: Of course you can’t! No one has the time! We, we glance at things, we watch television…
Chance the Gardener: I like to watch TV.
Ron Steigler: Oh, oh, oh sure you do. No one reads!”
We now proudly and profoundly say:
“No one reads. They just still watch TV, and surf purposelessly on the Internet.”
In an article, Frank Islam and Ed Crego compare Chauncey Gardiner in “Being Here” with Ben Carson who thinks “Obamacare is really the worst thing in this nation since slavery”:
“In 1979, Peter Sellers played a fictional character, Chance the gardener (Chauncey Gardiner) in the best-selling movie, Being There. In 2015, Ben Carson, a brain surgeon – portraying himself – is a candidate for President of the United States of America in Being Here.”
“Life is a state of mind. It was in 1979 for a period of time in Being There with Peter Sellers in a starring role and it has been in 2015 with Ben Carson in a starring role until recently in Being Here.”
“Unlike Chance the Gardener, Dr. Carson the brain surgeon is not simple-minded. Like Chance though he has worked in a very small space with little exposure to or knowledge of the world outside the medical setting in which he excelled.” (13)
We believe what we see is real, what we watch is fictitious?
In the age of perception engineering, can we be sure about that?
What is the basic need of modern societies? Is it reality or morality, or both? Do we have a strong compass to find our ways for a better future, to create a new language of peace and prosperity and live in harmony with nature? Do we have a “Compass of Conscious” (14), a moral compass to see the lights of a new dawn with all human beings?
When we write “Being Where”, will the new stories be the light chains shining and changing continously in brilliant minds of all human beings in the universe?
Now finally, it is time to talk about the first movie I had ever watched. “The Yellow Rolls Royce”. The film had been made in the year I wrote my first story. I had written “Overthrown Train” in 1964, soon after I started the elementary school and I learned writing. (15)
I remember a yellow car living vividly in my mind for days and weeks and months. It should be some time after 1964. I had watched reflections of light coming from lands I had never seen, bringing new worlds and definitions, introducing people and relations I could never meet and know, opening new windows for seeing and understanding life. I don’t remember the tradename of the car in the movie I watched, or maybe I had not noticed it at all, since the title in local film poster was “The Yellow Car”. I accessed the film data only after I considered writing on “the first movie I had ever watched”.
The tagline “Everything Happens In The Yellow Rolls Royce” defines the film. The introduction written by A.L.Beneteau provides enough hints for understanding why it may make huge effects in the mind of a child who had never watched a movie before:
“Three stories about the lives and loves of those who own a certain yellow Rolls-Royce:
– First purchased by the Marquess of Frinton for his wife as a belated anniversary present, the Marchiness finds her own use for the vehicle – one which prompts her husband to sell the car in disgust.
– Gangster Paolo Maltese’s moll, Mae, thinks the Rolls is a ‘classy’ car in which to tour Paolo’s home town in Italy. When Paolo is called away to the States to finish some ‘business’, a bored Mae takes the Rolls on a spin through the country, enjoying both the sights and the handsome Italian photographer who crosses her path.
– By the outbreak of World War II, the car has come into the possession of socialite Gerda Millet. While on her way to visit Yugoslavian royalty, Gerda and the Rolls become (at first) unwitting and then (eventually) most willing participants in the Yugoslavian fight.” (16)
I should have seen many actresses and actors I will know later in this film for the first time:
“Rex Harrison as Lord Charles, Marquess of Frinton
Jeanne Moreau as Eloise, Marchioness of Frinton
Shirley MacLaine as Mae Jenkins
George C. Scott as Paolo Maltese
Ingrid Bergman as Gerda Millett
Omar Sharif as Davich
Alain Delon as Stefano”
The film also inspired the idea of “Typewriter”. Upon a suggestion, I had even considered choosing the title as “The Green Typewriter”, but I prefferred leaving it as an ordinary one representing all typewriters. (17)
In fact, although “The Yellow Rolls Royce” had made great effects on how I see life, art and literature, it was not the first visual show I had ever watched. A “Karagoz Shadow Play” presented by a young student while we are at a summer house had also made a considerable impact. I had remembered his show and jokes, and tried to prepare my own shows at home after I started primary school.
The “Karagoz Shadow Play” I watched also found a place in 2000+X:
“One of the first images I remember from years before was a Karagoz Shadow Play I watched at a holiday region. I don’t remember how old I was, but I should be at most four or five.” (18)
From a “Karagoz Shadow Play” to “The Yellow Rolls Royce”, from “Being There” to artificial intelligence and perception engineering of global instant communication network.
Where are we going? What is our next puzzle to solve?
“Nearly four decades after its initial release, Being There, Hal Ashby’s 1979 satire of American culture, feels more prescient than ever. A showcase for the subtler side of actor Peter Sellers, the film follows the misadventures of Chance, a childlike gardener who, by a series of coincidences, becomes a media darling and a confidant to a powerful Washington, D.C., businessman. For the latest installment of his series Anatomy of a Gag, filmmaker and critic David Cairns details the nuances that generate laughter in this almost gagless comedy, including the surprising juxtapositions in Ashby’s editing and musical choices, his evocations of everyone from Stanley Kubrick to Stan Laurel, and the carefully calibrated minimalism of Sellers’s performance.” (19)
I believe we will continue hearing much about being there. Until where?
If we start another task before completing the previous one, will starting still be “half of completing”?
Today is 8th April 2017, 09:55 a.m. I finally completed this writing adventure.
* I think Sakip Sabanci’s “Office Bus” he used for working during his frequent travels between Istanbul where he lives, and Izmit where most of his factories are located; should have been the inspiration source for this idea. I remember I had thought “What a good idea! This can also be valuable for creating mobile resources and work platforms to be used at different locations for interests of a variety of communities.
1. Roger Ebert, Being There, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-being-there-1979, May 25, 1997
2. Film Kaşifi (Film Explorer), http://www.facebook.com/groups/188900461452314
3. Mehmet Arat, The Value of Free Books, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/the-value-of-free-books
4. Mehmet Arat, Fairy of Inspiration, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/fairy-of-inspiration/
5. Mehmet Arat, Yitirdigim Anilar (Memories Lost), http://blog.milliyet.com.tr/yitirdigim-anilar/Blog/?BlogNo=351792
6. Mehmet Arat, How I Wrote 2000+X?, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/how-i-wrote-2000x/
7. Dan P. McAdams, The Mind of Donald Trump, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/the-mind-of-donald-trump/480771/
8. Mehmet Arat, Voyages in Stories, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/about
9. Vasıf Öngören, Masalın Aslı (The Origin of Tale), http://www.dr.com.tr/Kitap/Masalin-Asli-2-Cilt-Birarada/Vasif-Ongoren/Cocuk-ve-Genclik/Okul-Oncesi-6-Ay-5-Yas/Masal-Hikaye-Kitaplari/urunno=0000000445017
10. Yasemin Pforr, Her Çocuk Bir Tohum (Each Child A Seed), http://www.facebook.com/groups/2038568629703135/
11. Roger Ebert, Being There, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/being-there-1980, January 1, 1980
12. Hal Ashby, Being There, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078841/, 1979
13. Frank Islam, Ed Crego, Being There: Chauncey Gardiner. Being Here: Ben Carson., http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-islam/being-there-chauncey-gard_b_8718146.html, Updated Dec 05, 2016
14. Mehmet Arat, Vicdan Pusulası (Compass of Conscious), http://www.sanatlog.com/edebiyat/vicdan-pusulasi/
15. Mehmet Arat, How I Wrote 2000+X?, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/how-i-wrote-2000x/
16. Anthony Asquith, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059927
17. Mehmet Arat, Typewriter (A Sequence of Stories), https://www.facebook.com/mehmetarat2000X/posts/1194231060691173, https://mehmetarat2000.wordpress.com/about/
18. Mehmet Arat, 2000+X Uzun Bir Arayışın Kısa Öyküsü (2000+X Short Story of a Long Seek), http://www.idefix.com/Kitap/2000-X-Uzun-Bir-Arayisin-Kisa-Oykusu/Mehmet-Arat/Edebiyat/Turk-Oyku/urunno=0000000723312
19. David Cairns, Anatomy of a Gag: Being There, https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/4461-anatomy-of-a-gag-being-there