Philosophy and The Iron Giant


I saw The Iron Giant last night with my kids for the first time. I say first time, because I have a feeling I’ll be watching that movie on and off for the rest of my life.  I certainly need the book. But I experienced a shift.  The kind of shift in your brain when a piece falls into place and one more little chunk of life makes sense.

I was at a party recently and an acquaintance came up to me and said “Reading your blog makes me feel totally inadequate”.  And here’s something that never changes – people never ever see you the way you see yourself.  Blogging I’ve found, is pretty much an exercise in self expression and blind confidence. Every week or thereabouts, making something, talking about it, and showing it so all the world can see. I have no idea if people think what I make is good (and I’m sure except for a few moments of awesomeness, the rest is pretty much shit) I just know that I am compelled to create things to feed the idea machine in my head. And making it, talking about it makes it real for me, sort of like a trail of crumbs through the forest in case I get lost – I’ll know where I was. If I end up as a welder or a box maker, I’ll have a map of how I got there.

It has never been my intention to make other people feel inadequate. I would say instead that I blog to prove to myself that I am not inadequate. People get to where they are based on millions of things that make them who they are, good, or bad, and at every step of the way they make choices based on the best information they have at the time. I had a tough start – definitely not as bad as some, but certainly not as happy as others. The Iron Giant resonated with me on so many levels – it is a beautifully animated cartoon. The underlying messages of choosing good over evil, gun control, prejudice, death and the human soul. All pretty heavy concepts for a kid’s cartoon. At this point some comic humour:  at the part where Hogarth was being interrogated by the government agent, both my sons screamed at the tv saying “if anyone takes me away from my mom I will kick him in the stomach and tell him to fuck off!!” (Ah. The forbidden word! Used in so valiant a way…of course I let it pass and gave reinforcing hugs I’m sure I’ll regret later).

Anyways, the story of the Iron Giant felt close to me – “You are who you choose to be”. Life is tough – it sucks a lot of the time, and people are horrible to each other. I’m throwing it all against the wall, see what sticks, and I really don’t care if people think it’s good or bad, it’s about me and how it makes me feel.  At the end of the movie, the Iron Giant knows what he has to do, and he chooses. Not everyone has the freedom to make the choices they wish they could. Sometimes people can’t even remember who they are. I can’t forget everything, but I can make it smaller. And all the happy things I want to remember are here, soon to be turned into a book. And I will make myself into who I am by making. And maybe you’ll be inspired too.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this weekend I spent a good deal of time on the couch watching cartoons, drinking Starbucks, and basically making nothing. Ok, that’s not totally true, I did bake 8 loaves of whole wheat bread from scratch. Oh, and a giant 11 x 17 carrot cake with a double recipe of cream cheese icing (yeah baby!). Oh! Right, and some chocolate chip cranberry oatmeal cookies. But I was basically inadequate for the most part.

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