The Bridge – Movie

February 16, 2009

I’ve been wanting to see this documentary called The Bridge for a while, and my lovely lovely girlfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s day. Not really the type of thing you’d buy someone for valentine’s day, but for me, it was wonderful. It has always really intrigued me that people commit suicide as I love life so much (if not outwardly then inwardly) and feel it’s a deep shame when people give up their life for whatever reason.

The documentary could easily have gone wrong, and it’s not the type of thing you’d pick up, read the back of and say ‘oh, that’s interesting and sounds tactful’. I’d actually wager that you’d probably go the different route and comment ‘that’s tactless and a bit vulgar, why would these people film people committing suicide and not help them’. It is however very tactful, interesting and even quite eye opening, for me at least.

The Golden Gate Bridge is apparently considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world and it’s not wonder why, from the way this documentary shows it it’s a beautiful sight and in the mist is incredible. Although I prefer the suspension bridge in Clifton, Bristol the Golden Gate Bridge is a lot larger and considered the number one place in the world to commit suicide. The Bridge says that in 2004 24 people committed suicide off the bridge, though the number is more likely to be larger due to people jumping during fog or at night time. Though currently the bridge is shut to pedestrians at night time.

The movie follows one suicide primarily building a character around the person and revealing the most dramatic footage of this one jumper. It’s not surprising that the majority have great depression but what’s interesting is that a few people being saved are caught on camera. One mad, a photographer, takes photos of a woman climbing over the edge, and only as she’s about to jump does he realise what he’s doing, grabbing her by her collar and pulling her to safety. One of his comments being that afterwards when she was being taken away by police, she looked back at him and he thought she was angry for him having saved her (how do you deal with that, you feel like you’ve done a good thing and yet you’re hated by the person you think you’ve ‘saved’).

It’s a documentary that is interesting to watch and I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in psychology or depression.


Biblical No2

February 14, 2009

It seems that there are very few who follow religion to the letter and maybe that’s either the point or just a good thing. I certainly wouldn’t like today’s society if we all followed a literal translation of the Torah, be it an ‘Eye for an Eye’ or that you’re not meant to touch someone who is unclean. It would be a very frustrating way to live.

The thing about not touching someone who is unclean applies to both men and women and has to do with menstruation and shedding ones seed (male ejaculation). You’re not meant to touch a woman for seven days after she has menstruated which makes daily work a hard task. Just think about the last time you touched a woman in any way (hug, handshake, handing them something) and the chances of them having menstruated in the last seven days. Further, a male who has ejaculated in the last day is considered unclean, making touching most men probably a risky business. The punishment for this is that you are then unclean, presumably a sinner untill your next prayer when you are cleansed.

The Samaritans, the kind loving guys who appear in the parable of the good Samaritan, still live in Israel although there are only about 700 of them. They hold very strict literalist views on cleanliness and the female menstruation cycle. For seven days each month the females of the household have what is endearingly referred to as a ‘holiday from housework’. They have their own room with tv and refrigerator, they are not allowed really to interact with the men of the house except to help them prepare meals. This brings up another point actually, that men aren’t allowed to sit or touch anything that an unclean person has touched. So if the women of the Samaritans touch something, the men are not allowed to touch it. This is why they are not allowed to come out of their room and the men have to do everything.

What really intrigues me here, other than the fact that they have these bizarre rituals, is that the Samaritans of today put emphasis on this being a holiday for the women. It isn’t repression, even if it was at some point. It is now liberation.

The most powerful part of the story of the good Samaritan is that the Samaritan helps a Judean and the two hated each other. It tells us that even if you hate your neighbour for one thing, if he’s hurt and alone, you should help. The Samaritans have their own Bible and in fact their own Ten Commandments with just one difference: one of the commandments is to build an altar on Mount Garizim. It’s facinating to think that if we were all Samaritans then instead of having hundreds of people at the Wailing Wall every day you’d have hundreds of people not so far away at Mount Garizim. Every Passover the head male of each household of the Samaritans sacrifices a goat. Again, if we were all Samaritans then there would, every Passover, be hundreds maybe thousands of goat sacrifices but at Mount Garizim.

There’s a facinating thing about Jewish people and sacrifice which I will talk about in more depth next post.


Biblically No.1

February 8, 2009

I’m currently reading A.J.Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically and I’m also trying to improve my memory. The latter of the two is inspiried by the very sad and unfortunate situation that Terry Pratchett is currently in. For those who don’t know, and I’m pretty sure that everyone does know, but Terry Pratchett recently found out that he has Alzheimers and if you’re interested there’s a really rather good show he’s doing about his search for a cure. Go check it out on iPlayer.

Anyway, I want to write down some stuff about the bible thing I’m reading, interesting stuff, useless facts that you will no doubt never need, but if you find yourself in the odd situation of being on the crystal maze maybe you’ll thank me.

Fact One:
There are 613 Commandments in the bible and that doesn’t include all of the suggestions and parables that are written. These 613 were all given to Moses on top of the mountain which is why he was up there for forty days. Most of these are the Oral Laws which were given by Moses to the Israelites who gave them to their sons and daughters, etcetera. Not all Jews believe in these Oral laws, there is a sect of Jewdaism who call themselves the Karaites who do not believe in the Oral law and only what is written in the bible. Whereas other jewish people follow the Rabbis interpretations of these Oral Laws.

Examples of this are laws like not mixing Wool and Linen, which is very specific and easy to follow, however there are other laws like ‘an Eye for an Eye’ which is where Jewish people need interpretation from the Rabbis. It’s said that it doesn’t actually mean to take and Eye for and Eye, but instead ‘cash for an eye’, typically the attacker pays the victim the monetary value of an eye. Then there are weird laws like ‘You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of it’s mother’ which if you take literally seems very hard to break and almost stupid to state. However, the interpretation of this by Rabbis gives the Jewish people the law whereby they can’t mix milk and meat, thus, no cheeseburgers.

It’s an interesting area and one which is trackled a lot in this book. One of my favourite parts so far is where the author tries to follow the law about not making a graven image of anything on the earth or in the sea. Taken literally it means that when his son askes him to create a Car out of play-doe he instead creates a circle, when asked to create Nemo (becuase his son is a good little protoconsumer) he creates an oval.

It does however get him into trouble now and again, there are a few pages dedicated to how he reacts to touching women. It says in the bible that you are not to touch a woman who is going through her cycle for a week afterwards. This means that he can refrain and pull back from shaking hands and hugging women with the excuse that he might be committing a sin.

More to come, when I remember perhaps.